GAME HIGHLIGHTS (courtesy of NESN)
Video: Sonny Watrous interviews UNH head coach Brian McCloskey
Video: Sonny Watrous interviews Tournament MVP Kacey Bellamy
UNH Postgame Audio (McCloskey, Bellamy, Birchard, Paton)
DURHAM, N.H. – Led by Tournament MVP Kacey Bellamy (Westfield, Mass.) and All-Tournament Team selections Courtney Birchard (Mississauga, Ontario), Micaela Long (South Boston, Mass.) and Kelly Paton (Woodstock, Ontario), the fifth-ranked University of New Hampshire women’s ice hockey team captured the 2009 Women’s Hockey East Championship Tournament title Sunday afternoon with a 2-1 victory against sixth-ranked Boston College at the Whittemore Center.
UNH, the tourney’s top seed, extended its winning streak to 15 games and its home unbeaten streak to 30 games (26-0-4) to win its fourth consecutive league tournament title and improve to 24-5-5 overall this season. BC, the second seed that entered the championship game with an eight-game unbeaten streak (6-0-2), is now 22-8-5. The Wildcats receive the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA tournament by virtue of the league title while BC awaits an at-large invitation.
Paton extended her point-scoring streak with her second two-assist effort of the weekend. Bellamy and Long both recorded a goal in both tourney games and Birchard had an assist in both games.
UNH goaltender Lindsey Minton (Richardson, Texas) kept the Eagles scoreless for more than 53 minutes before surrendering a goal and made 11 of her 20 saves in the second stanza.
BC goalie Molly Schaus was credited with 20 saves. She and teammate Kelli Stack completed the All-Tournament Team.
Bellamy gave the ‘Cats a 1-0 lead for the second time in as many days when she rifled a shot from the left circle into the net at 10:40 of the first period. Birchard initiated the scoring sequence high on the right wing. She moved the puck to Paton at the right point and shifted to the high slot to receive a return pass. Birchard then sent a pass left to Bellamy, who drifted deeper into the left circle before shooting on goal.
BC was held without a shot for the opening 12:30 of the game, but suddenly produced a dangerous scoring chance when Stack was stoned by Minton at the left doorstep and Allie Thunstrom was also foiled by Minton in front off the rebound.
New Hampshire began a 5-on-3 power play at 13:38 and needed just 22 seconds to capitalize and extend its lead to 2-0. Birchard, on the right side, sent the puck across the slot to Bellamy, whose screened shot caromed off the left post. Sam Faber (Mt. Sinai, N.Y.) corralled the puck and lifted a shot across the goal mouth off the right post. Paton, on the right doorstep, could not push the puck into the open right side but Long charged in to sweep it into the cage to mark the sixth consecutive game in which the ‘Cats have netted a power-play goal.
In the 17th minute, Thunstrom broke in behind the UNH defense down the slot. Bellamy, however, chased Thunsrom down and poke-checked the puck aside before the BC forward could shoot.
UNH carried that 2-0 lead and a 10-2 shot advantage into the first intermission.
Boston College went on its first power play of the game at 2:59 of the second stanza. One minute later, Mary Restuccia’s shot from deep in the left circle was blocked down by Minton. Off the rebound, Meghan Fardelmann’s shot at the left doorstep ricocheted off the UNH goalie high into the slot, where Stack played the puck with a high stick into the net, therefore disallowing the goal.
Near the conclusion of that power play, Stack’s attempt from deep on the right side was turned aside by Minton and, off the rebound, a UNH skater blocked Restuccia’s shot from the slot.
In the seventh minute, UNH generated a 3-on-2 rush in which Paton, with her back to the net, lifted a backhander towards the left post that Schaus stopped with her right leg pad.
With the Wildcats on their third power play of the game, Bellamy sent an indirect pass to spring Faber on a break up the left wing. From the left point, Faber forwarded the puck to Long, who stickhandled across the hash marks of the slot and wristed a close-range shot wide right.
BC pressured late in the stanza (with 2:30 remaining), but Minton preserved New Hampshire’s 2-0 lead with an acrobatic glove save on Restuccia’s bid from the low slot.
Minton stood strong again in the seventh minute of the third period when she stopped Thunstrom at the left doorstep and stood her ground to engulf Restuccia’s attempt off the rebound.
In the 10th minute, the Wildcats generated a dangerous scoring chance when Angela Taylor (Paisley, Scotland) skated onto a loose puck and rocketed a slap shot from the left faceoff dot that was blocked by Schaus’ right shoulder and carried into the right corner.
The Eagles pulled within 2-1 at 13:22 of the final frame when Fardelmann, alone in the high slot, blasted a high shot that hit Minton’s right shoulder and popped in the air behind her to land in the net. Becky Zavisza, with the pass that sent Fardelmann alone into the offensive zone in transition, was credited with an assist.
The Wildcats generated a 1-on-1 breakaway opportunity with 4:20 remaining in the game when Birchard, from her defensive zone, connected on a tape-to-tape pass with Faber at the opposite blue line. Faber skated down the slot, deked Schaus and pushed a shot wide left of the cage.
BC pulled Schaus in favor of an extra skater with one minute to play, but she had to reenter five seconds later when the Eagles were whistled for a hand pass in the offensive zone. She went to the bench again with 44 ticks on the clock, but UNH cleared the puck out of the zone 11 seconds later.
Faber slowly advanced the puck through the neutral zone and, against two defenders, fired a shot from the high slot towards the empty net that was blocked into the left corner with 22 seconds to play.
BC reentered the offensive zone with 15 seconds left. Stack shot wide from the top of the right circle and Thunstrom, at the top of the crease, was denied by Minton in the waning seconds.
UNH is now 4-2 in Hockey East title games and that includes 2-0 vs. Boston College; the Wildcats defeated the Eagles 6-0 in ’06; the ‘Cats are 10-3 overall in Hockey East postseason play. BC is 0-2 in league title games.
New Hampshire is 64-0-9 vs. Hockey East teams at the Whittemore Center since the inception of the league in the 2003 season.
The Wildcats are now 7-0-2 in their last nine games vs. nationally-ranked teams.