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The University of New Hampshire women’s ice hockey team is ranked fourth in the national polls, has a 15-game winning streak and a 24-5-5 overall record. The Wildcats will play host to fifth-ranked University of Minnesota Duluth (25-8-4) in a March 14 (1 p.m.) NCAA quarterfinal game at the Whittemore Center.
Tickets are available at the Whittemore Center Box Office, by calling (603) 868-7300 or by clicking here. The game will be broadcast on the UNH Sports Network and will also be videostreamed online at unhwildcats.tv.
UNH has a 2-3-0 lifetime record vs. Minnesota Duluth in which the home team has won every game. The Bulldogs are the only team that has a winning record vs. the Wildcats.
These teams faced off in a 2008 Women’s Frozen Four semifinal game March 20 at UMD’s DECC and the Bulldogs prevailed 3-2. Jenn Wakefield gave the ‘Cats an early 1-0 lead with an unassisted goal at 4:00 of the first period, but UMD rallied to take a 2-1 lead on goals by Sara O’Toole and Laura Fridfinnson at 9:01 and 12:48, respectively. UNH recorded a 13-0 shot advantage in the second period and leveled the scored, 2-2, with a power-play goal at 13:19. Fridfinnson netted her second power-play goal of the game at 10:27 of the third period. Minutes later, UNH had a 5x3 power play for 50 seconds but did not convert. The ‘Cats also went on the power play with 1:31 remaining and pulled goaltender Kayley Herman for an extra skater with 19 seconds to play, but could not score the equalizer. Herman finished with 12 saves and UMD goalie Kim Martin made double-digit saves all three periods (14-12-15) to finish with 41.
UNH and UMD played two-game series in both the 2000 and 2001 seasons but did not face off again until the ‘08 NCAAs. The Bulldogs recorded 3-0 and 8-1 wins at the DECC in December 2000. The Wildcats were 5-1 and 3-2 victors at the Whittemore Center in February 2000.
McCLOSKEY IS HOCKEY EAST COACH OF THE YEAR
UNH head coach Brian McCloskey was named Hockey East Coach of the Year at last week’s league banquet. It marked the fourth time he received that accolade (2003, 2005, 2006, 2009) in the seven-year history of the league.
Four UNH skaters were given league recognition and that included a league-high three Wildcats on the First Team All-Star. Sam Faber was named to the First Team for the third consecutive year. Jenn Wakefield received that distinction for the second time in as many years. Kacey Bellamy – twice a Second Team selection –was also named to the First Team. Kelly Paton was named a Second Team All-Star.
BELLAMY HONORED AS PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Kacey Bellamy was named TPS Hockey Player of the Week by Hockey East on Monday. Bellamyscored a goal in both the semifinal game vs. Providence and final against Boston College and was named Tournament MVP. Both of her goals gave UNH a 1-0 first-period lead.
HOCKEY EAST TOURNAMENT RECAP
As the top seed and host of the 2009 WHEA Championship Tournament (March 7-8), UNH won its fourth consecutive league tournament title by defeating Providence College, 3-1, in the semifinal and sixth-ranked Boston College, 2-1, in the final.
New Hampshire scored four of its five goals in the first periods and led 2-0 at the first intermission of both games. In fact, the Wildcats surrendered just five first-period shots with a 12-3 shot advantage vs. the Friars and a 10-2 edge against the Eagles.
UNH senior defenseman and captain Kacey Bellamy gave the ‘Cats a 1-0 lead in both games and was voted Tournament MVP; it marked her third selection to the All-Tournament Team. She was joined on the All-Tournament Team by teammates Courtney Birchard Micaela Long and Kelly Paton.
Birchard tallied an assist in both games while Long scored a goal in each game and Paton recorded a pair of two-assist efforts.
UNH goalies Kayley Herman and Lindsey Minton combined to stop 41 of 43 shots for a .953 save percentage and 1.00 GAA. Herman turned aside 21 of 22 shots in the semifinal vs. PC and Minton made 20 saves in the championship game. Both made 11 saves in the second period.
THE STATE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE
New Hampshire’s 15-game winning streak is the longest active unbeaten streak in Division I. Finishing strong in the regular season is nothing new for these ‘Cats. Last year, UNH closed the regular season with 10 consecutive wins as part of a 16-game unbeaten streak (15-0-1). In 2007, UNH went 9-0-2 in the last 11 regular-season games. And in ‘06, the ‘Cats entered the postseason with a 14-game winning streak and 26-game unbeaten streak (25-0-1).
The Wildcats ended the regular season Feb. 21-22 with a home-and-home sweep of then 10th-ranked UConn. The ‘Cats rallied from a 3-1 second-period deficit to record a 4-3 road victory, then built a 4-0 lead in the Senior Day regular-season finale en route to a 4-2 win.
UNH has won six consecutive Hockey East regular-season crowns – the ‘Cats shared the 2005 title and won it outright in ‘04, ‘06, ‘07, ‘08 and ‘09 – and four straight tourney titles.
UNH is 7-0-2 in its last nine games against nationally-ranked teams following last Sunday’s 2-1 victory against sixth-ranked Boston College in the Hockey East title game.
The ‘Cats have won all 14 games in which the PK has not yielded a goal. UNH was a perfect 8-for-8 on the penalty kill in the WHEA tournament and is 16 of 18 (.889) in the last five games.
The ‘Cats are second in the nation in shorthanded goals with 11. Jenn Wakefield (four goals) and Sam Faber (three) have been the top snipers with a teammate in the penalty box. Raylen Dziengelewski has been on the ice for seven of the team’s 11 shorthanded tallies. And Kacey Bellamy has also been on the ice for seven.
UNH has netted 39 power-play goals this season, and Jenn Wakefield, who has scored 12 power-play goals herself, has been on the ice for 28 of them. Kacey Bellamy has been on-ice for 29 of 39 PPG.
PLAYING THE REST OF THE FIELD
UNH compiled a 5-2-1 record against the remainder of the NCAA tournament field. The Wildcats went 3-0-1 against Hockey East league rival Boston College and also defeated ECAC representatives Dartmouth College and St. Lawrence University. Both losses were to top-seeded Wisconsin in a two-game series at Fort Myers, Fla. (Nov. 21-22).
UNH IN THE POSTSEASON
New Hampshire has a 41-20 overall record in postseason play and that includes 2-3 in three NCAA appearances as well as a 11-3 overall mark in quarterfinal games; that quarterfinal breakdown includes 11-2 at home and 2-1 in the NCAAs (all three at home). UNH is 26-3 at home in postseason play.
INSIDE THE WIN STREAK
UNH has posted some impressive numbers during its 15-game winning streak. The Wildcats scored at least three goals in the initial 14 games before recording a 2-1 victory against sixth-ranked Boston College in the Hockey East championship game on March 8. They have outscored the opposition 61-25 and have scored a goal in 36 of 45 periods.
New Hampshire has a .137 shooting percentage (.115 overall this season) and has held the opposition to a .076 shooting percentage (.094 overall). The shot advantage stands at 444-329.
The power play has excelled during this 15-game stretch by converting 21 of 71 opportunities for a .296 percentage (.218 overall this season).
Seven players, led by Kelly Paton (12-16-28) and Jenn Wakefield (17-8-25; 13 games), have recorded double-digit points. Paton has a .235 shooting percentage in this stretch and Wakefield is at .224. Sam Faber (3g, 19a) is next with 22 points, while both Micaela Long (8g, 8a) and Kacey Bellamy (4g, 12a) have 16 points; Angela Taylor is at 3-9-12 and Maggie Joyce has compiled 2-8-10.
Lindsey Minton has nine starts, including a stretch of five consecutive games from Feb. 8 – Feb. 21, in the past 15 games and her numbers include a 1.77 GAA and .915 save percentage. In six starts, Kayley Herman has a 1.50 GAA and .936 save percentage.
SALUTING THE SENIORS
The Class of 2009 enters the NCAA tournament with 118 wins – the highest total by any UNH class – and a .849 winning percentage. Included in that is a 63-3-8 record (.905 win%) at the Whittemore Center and a 73-4-7 mark (.911) in Hockey East that does not include 8-0 in postseason league play.
This class captured both the Hockey East regular-season and tournament crowns all four years. These seniors have participated in four NCAA tournaments and advanced to the Frozen Four twice (2006, 2008).