LONG'S CAREER-HIGH FOUR ASSISTS LIFT #6 WOMEN'S HOCKEY PAST VERMONT, 4-2

MICAELA LONG

DURHAM, N.H.Micaela Long (South Boston, Mass.) recorded a career-high four assists to lift the sixth-ranked University of New Hampshire women’s ice hockey team to Saturday afternoon’s 4-2 victory against the University of Vermont in Hockey East action at the Whittemore Center.

UNH improved to 17-6-5 overall and 11-5-2-0 in Hockey East with its second consecutive victory while UVM fell to 10-19-1, 5-12-1-0.

The four points also tied a personal best for Long, who has seven assists in the past two games. Kelly Paton (Woodstock, Ontario) scored twice and also recorded an assist to finish with three points.

UNH goaltender Lindsey Minton (Richardson, Texas) made 19 saves and UVM counterpart Kristen Olychuck stopped 26 shots, including 12 in the third period.

In the opening minutes of the game, Long redirected a slap shot by Raylen Dziengelewski (Southwick, Mass.) past Olychuck and the puck trickled across the goal line, but she did so with a high stick to nullify the goal and the game remained scoreless.

UVM, which went 2-for-7 on the power play and had 5-on-3 advantages of 26 and 67 seconds, took a 1-0 lead at 13:11. Jackie Thode won possession of the puck along the dashers at the left point and Peggy Wakeham carried the puck through the circle to behind the net. Wakeham slid a pass to the low slot, where Jul Sifers redirected the puck underneath Minton into the net.

The Catamounts gained its second two-skater advantage at 15:22, but Minton kept UNH within one goal by stopping Teddy Fortin at the left doorstep – on both the initial shot and rebound – and then turning aside Brittany Nelson’s one-timer in the low slot.

With five power-play chances in the first period, Vermont took a 1-0 lead and a 7-6 shot advantage into the first intermission.

New Hampshire struck three times in the second period to take a 3-1 lead. UNH went on its second power play of the game at 4:57, but Olychuck preserved UVM’s 1-0 edge by blocking Long’s bid from deep on the right wing and the rebound opportunity in front off the stick of Kristina Lavoie (Fonthill, Ontario).

The Wildcats continued to pressure, however, and pulled into a 1-1 tie at 6:23. Paton’s initial shot from the front doorstep was knocked down by Olychuck and, off the rebound, Dziengelewski’s shot from the high slot sailed wide right of the cage. Paton moved the puck from the corner to Long on the right half-boards and received the return pass and jammed the puck into the net at the right post.

One minute later, UNH’s Sarah Cuthbert (East Falmouth, Mass.) fired a backhander from the slot wide right, and then Emma Clark (East Barre, Vt.) was denied in the slot by Olychuck’s right leg pad.

In the ninth minute, the Catamounts generated a rush in which Hannah Westbrook’s shot from the slot was turned aside by Minton. The rebound went towards the right circle and Celeste Doucet slid a low shot wide of the far post.

UNH responded with immediate pressure and took a 2-1 lead at 9:46. Deep in the defensive zone, Courtney Sheary (Melrose, Mass.) advanced the puck to Long. Long carried the puck through the neutral zone and entered the offensive zone at the left point facing three defenders. She slowed the pace but continued towards the corner and behind the net. Long then stopped and cut in front of the defender to double back to the right doorstep before sending a pass to the slot, where Julie Allen (Brampton, Ontario) snapped a high shot inside the right post.

The Wildcats extended the advantage to 3-1 at 12:44. Long won possession in front of the UNH bench and forwarded the puck into the offensive zone for Paton, who drove from the right point towards the corner. Paton then cut towards the slot and centered the puck for Shannon Sisk (Pipersville, Pa.). Sisk’s low shot ricocheted off the left post into the net.

Vermont scored its second power-play goal of the game at 1:32 of the final frame to pull within 3-2. Doucet, from the left wing, centered the puck for Erin Wente and her shot from the slot sailed inside the right post. Chelsea Furlani was also credited with an assist.

Both teams generated a dangerous scoring chance in the next two minutes. From a scrum in front of the UVM net, Cuthbert lifted a shot that Olychuck knocked down and covered before there was an attempt off the rebound. At the other end of the ice, Thode maneuvered to the top of the crease but was stoned by Minton.

With eight minutes remaining in the game, Doucet had another scoring chance in the slot, but her wrister was snared by Minton’s glove. UVM sustained pressure and Shannon Bellefeuille’s shot from the right point was knocked down by a Wildcat defenseman. Thode corralled the puck and lifted a shot that caromed off the right post.

New Hampshire went on its fourth power play of the game at 16:00, and Olychuck kept the Catamounts’ deficit at one goal when she stopped Long at the right post and Lavoie off the rebound.

The Wildcats took a 4-2 lead with 1:39 remaining in the game. Long attacked in the left circle and her lose range bid was turned aside by Olychuck, but Paton reeled in the puck and lifted a shot into the upper-left corner of the net. Lavoie was credited with an assist to extend her point-scoring streak to 12 games (her goal-scoring streak came to an end at 11 games).

UVM pulled Olychuck in favor of an extra skater with 25 seconds remaining but was unable to get a shot on goal the rest of the way.

New Hampshire and Vermont conclude the two-game series Feb. 14 (2 p.m.) at the Whittemore Center. The Wildcats close regular-season play next weekend with a home-and-home series vs. Boston College. Senior Day at the Whittemore Center is Feb. 20 (2 p.m.).

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