DULUTH, Minn. – Micaela Long (South Boston, Mass.) netted her 48th career goal and Kayley Herman (Weyburn, Saskatchewan) recorded 24 saves, but the seventh-ranked University of New Hampshire women’s ice hockey team was ousted from the 2010 NCAA Women’s Ice Hockey Championship with a 2-1 loss Saturday afternoon to the second-ranked and second-seeded University of Minnesota-Duluth at the DECC.
UNH, which received an at-large bid to make its fifth consecutive trip to the NCAAs, ends its season at 19-9-5. UMD won its seventh consecutive game to improve to 29-8-2 and advance to next weekend’s Frozen Four.
The teams skated to a 1-1 tied through one period of play with both teams scoring early in the stanza. The Bulldogs took a 1-0 lead at 2:42 when Jocelyne Larocque collected Kacy Ambroz’ pass at the left point and fired a shot that ricocheted of Herman’s left leg pad inside the right post.
UNH leveled the score, 1-1, at 5:42. Katie Brock (Marblehead, Mass.) made an indirect pass from the defensive zone off the left boards to Long, who chipped the puck into the offensive zone. Long and Kristina Lavoie (Fonthill, Ontario) went into the corner on an assertive forecheck and Long banged in the loose puck at the left post.
In the 11th minute with UNH on the power play, Courtney Sheary (Melrose, Mass.) snapped a wrist shot from the high slot through traffic that Jennifer Harss (23 saves) snared with her glove.
With 3:40 remaining in the opening stanza, UMD’s Mariia Posa sent a screened knuckler that Herman turned aside with her blocker.
In the closing seconds of the opening stanza, Paton led a rush down the right wing. She centered the puck down low, where Lavoie was denied by Harss off the initial redirection and the rebound.
Early in the second period, an errant UMD pass in the defensive zone was collected by Emma Clark (East Barre, Vt.) in the left circle. She charged towards the net and her low, hard shot was stopped by Harss.
Less than a minute later, Jessica Wong led a 2-on-1 rush the right wing. Her close-range shot was knocked down by Herman and Kristine Horn (Utica, Mich.) cleared the rebound out of the low slot.
With 7:30 remaining in the second period, Kelly Paton (Woodstock, Ontario) carried the puck down the left side and centered a pass to Long, whose wrister was turned aside by Harss’ left leg pad.
Two minutes later, Lavoie fed a centering pass off the right boards that Kelly Cahill (Farmington Hills, Mich.) one-timed onto goal, but Harss’ blocked it away with her right leg pad.
With 3:30 to play in the stanza, Laura Fridfinnson carried the puck into the right corner and threw a pass towards the low slot. The puck ricocheted on goal and Herman made the save, then arched backwards to cover the loose puck in the crease.
In the closing minute of the second period, Brittany Skudder (Plainview, N.Y.) led a 2-on-1 rush down the left side of the slot. She sent the puck across to Paton, whose shot from the hashmarks was enveloped by Harss.
In the third minute of the third period, UMD’s Emmanuelle Blais was denied twice by Herman at the left doorstep.
The Bulldogs went on their third power play of the game moments later, and capitalized on that skater advantage to take a 2-1 lead. Blais circled from the right wing to the corner and continued behind the goal line. Before going behind the net, Blais centered the puck to Wong in the slot and her low shot sailed inside the left post at 3:57.
New Hampshire generated an offensive flurry that caused the Bulldogs to commit a minor penalty and give the ‘Cats their third power-play opportunity of the day at 13:54. UNH sustained pressure and generated two shots, but Harss preserved the one-goal lead.
UNH pulled Herman in favor of an extra skater with 1:24 remaining. The Wildcats were able to keep the puck in the offensive zone, but the Bulldogs were effective at keeping the puck on the perimeter and did allow a shot on goal for the next 70 seconds. Sheary gave the ‘Cats one last chance when she kept the puck in the offensive zone at the right point. She blasted a shot through traffic, but it sailed wide of the far post and then the last three seconds ticked off the clock to end the game and UNH’s season.
The end of the 2010 season also marked the end of UNH careers for seniors Shannon Sisk (Pipersville, Pa.), Cahill, Long and Paton, who is a Top 3 Finalist for the 2010 Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award as the most outstanding player in women’s college hockey.
UNH now has a 2-5 overall record in the NCAA tournament. The Wildcats advanced to the Frozen Four in 2006 and 2008.