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The University of New Hampshire women’s hockey team, ranked No. 4 in both of this week’s national polls, makes its first road trip of the season this weekend with a two-game series at Niagara University on Oct. 11-12. Both games begin at 2 p.m and they will be broadcast online at Yahoo.com. UNH (0-0-1) and Niagara (0-2-0) are looking for their first win of the season.
UNH has an 18-3-0 lifetime record, including 8-2-0 on the road, against Niagara. The Purple Eagle’s three wins all came in the 2002 season with 5-2 and 2-0 victories at NU and a 2-1 win at UNH. Since then, the Wildcats have won 12 straight in the series, and that includes four road games. In the most recent trip to Dwyer Ice Arena (Oct. 2005), the ‘Cats recorded 6-0 and 8-2 victories.
Last year at the Whittemore Center, UNH skated to 6-2 and 11-1 victories. In the series opener, the ‘Cats struck first but the Purple Eagles responded with goals 31 seconds apart to take a 2-1 lead. New Hampshire potted two more goals before the first intermission, however, and cruised to a four-goal victory. The following day, the ‘Cats potted six second-period goals en route to an 11-0 lead.
UNH recorded an 80-39 shot advantage in those two games, went 7-for-11 on the power play and 5 of 7 on the penalty kill. UNH goalie Kayley Herman stopped 32 of 33 shots in 99:56 of action for a .970 save percentage and 0.60 GAA.
THE STATE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE
New Hampshire won its fifth consecutive Hockey East regular-season title and third straight league tournament championship last season, and the Wildcats advanced to the Frozen Four for the second time in three years. Along the way, UNH became the first team to go through a Hockey East season undefeated (20-0-1) and broke six league records.
The ‘08 ‘Cats finished the season with 33 wins to tie the program’s single-season benchmark. UNH finished the year ranked No. 1 in penalty kill (.934) as well as second in offense (4.16 gpg), defense (1.08 gpg) and power play (.265).
The Wildcats return 12 letterwinners, including a Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award Top 10 Finalist (Sam Faber), Hockey East Scoring Champion (Jenn Wakefield) and Hockey East Goaltending Champion (Kayley Herman). Faber (25-24-49) and Wakefield (27-19-46) were the team’s top two point producers in ‘08; the former led the team in both assists and points while the latter led the squad in goals. Herman broke UNH single-season records for both wins (29) and goals-against-average (1.07).
'CATS MAKE HISTORY IN SEASON OPENER
UNH and Boston College skated to a 2-2 tie in the Wildcats’ season opener Oct. 8 at the Whittemore Center, and the ‘Cats made history by defeating the Eagles 1-0 in a shootout to earn a Hockey East league victory. It was the first shootout in league history (the system was implemented this season).
Following the end of 65 minutes, the teams entered a best-of-three rounds for the shootout. UNH goalkeeper Kayley Herman stopped all three Eagles’ shooters, but none of the Wildcats bested BC netminder Molly Schaus. The game then advanced to single sudden-death rounds. Neither team scored in the fourth round, and Herman once again turned away the Eagles in Round 5. UNH senior defenseman and captain Kacey Bellamy lifted the ‘Cats to victory when she lifted a backhander into the right side of the net.
OPENING ACT, PART I
New Hampshire has a 27-3-2 overall record in season openers that includes 12-2-1 at home (4-1-1 at the Whittemore Center) following Wednesday’s 2-2 tie at home vs. Boston College. UNH is 6-0-1 in season openers dating back to a 4-3 loss to Ohio State to start the 2002 season. The Wildcats are 2-0-1 when opening the season against a league opponent. Prior to this season, the ‘Cats upended Maine, 4-1, at home in the 2006 season and UConn, 4-2, on the road in the 2004 season.
OPENING ACT, PART II
UNH has a 25-5-2 record in home openers following the 2-2 tie against Boston College on Oct. 8. The Wildcats are 5-0-2 in the last seven home openers. The last loss was that setback to Ohio State in the ’02 season. New Hampshire is 5-1-2 when the home opener is a league opponent. In Hockey East play, that includes the 2006 season win vs. Maine as well as a 1-1 tie vs. UConn in the ’04 season in addition to Wednesday’s draw.
The Wildcats extended their record Hockey East regular-season unbeaten streak to 39 games (36-0-3) Wednesday against Boston College; including postseason, that streak stands at 43 games (39-0-4). The Eagles were the last league team to defeat the ‘Cats (Nov. 2, 2006; 7-2; at Conte Forum).
HOME ICE ADVANTAGE
UNH is 53-0-8 in home league regular-season games since the inception of Hockey East in the 2003 season. The ‘Cats are also 2-0 in postseason Hockey East home games. The Hockey East teams that have skated to a tie against New Hampshire at the Whittemore Center are Providence (three), UConn (two), Boston College (two) and Maine.
THE OFFICIAL 2008-09 DEBUT
UNH skated to a 2-2 tie – and 1-0 shootout victory – against Boston College in the Oct. 8 season opener at the Whittemore Center. It is officially a tie in the record books, but the Wildcats earned a win in the Hockey East standings by winning the shootout.
Sam Faber netted a shorthanded breakaway goal to give the ‘Cats a 1-0 lead at 11:01 of the first period, but BC scored on that power play 44 seconds to pull even. The Eagles potted another power-play goal at 17:42 to take a 2-1 lead into the first intermission.
Following a scoreless second stanza in which New Hampshire recorded a 9-2 shot advantage, UNH pulled even with 9:05 remaining in regulation on a power-play goal by Micaela Long.
UNH goalie Kayley Herman finished with 19 saves as the ‘Cats recorded a 33-21 shot advantage, including 2-1 in OT. The Wildcats went 1-for-8 on the power play and 7 of 9 on the PK.