WOMEN'S ICE HOCKEY TAKES AIM AT FIFTH STRAIGHT HOCKEY EAST TITLE IN 2009-10
|KELLY PATON, CAPTAIN|
DURHAM, N.H. --
Led by eighth-year head coach Brian McCloskey, the University of
New Hampshire women's ice hockey program returns 12 players from
last year's team that advanced to the NCAA tournament for the
fourth consecutive year and finished with a 24-6-5 overall
And the Wildcats welcome 10 newcomers, including two transfer student-athletes, as they take aim at a seventh consecutive Hockey East regular-season crown and fifth straight league tourney title in 2010.
New Hampshire loses three of its top four scoring forwards from 2009 - two to graduation as well as Jenn Wakefield to the Canadian National team - but a talented core returns.
Kelly Paton (Woodstock, Ontario), a senior captain, ranked second on the team last year in goals (21), power-play goals (eight), assists (26) and points (47); she also had the highest shooting percentage (.202) and ranked third in plus/minus (+21).
Paton garnered Hockey East Second Team All-Start recognition as she ranked third in the league in points, assists and power-play points as well as fourth in goals and fifth in power-play goals.
In the national statistics, Paton ranked 14th in power-play goals, 22nd in points-per game and 24th in both goals-per-game and assists-per-game.
The speedy and elusive Paton is UNH's active career leader in goals (43), assists (68) and points (111).
Micaela Long (South Boston, Mass.) is one of two Wildcats (the graduated Sam Faber is the other) who recorded double digits in both goals and assists each of the past three years. In ‘09, Long tied with Faber for third on the team in goals with a personal best of 13, and she also tallied 13 assists for a total of 26 points; furthermore, she ranked third in shooting percentage and power-play goals as well as fourth in plus/minus.
Long was selected to the 2009 Hockey East All-Tournament Team following a performance in which she scored a goal in both the semifinal and championship games, including the game-winning tally in the title game.
Shannon Sisk (Pipersville, Pa.) saw increased playing time last year as a junior. She played in all 35 games and tallied four points with two goals and two assists.
Kelly Cahill (Farmington Hills, Mich.) is a senior in her second year as a UNH Wildcat. She skated most of last season as a defenseman, but made the switch to forward for the last 13 games of the season. Cahill tallied two goals and four assists in those 13 games (4-8-12 in 33 games overall).
Julie Allen (Brampton, Ontario), a junior, tallied four goals and seven assists for 11 points in her first year as a Wildcat in the 2009 season.
Brittany Skudder (Plainview, N.Y.) was sidelined last year due to a pre-season injury. she was a highly-touted recruit and is expected to make an immediate impact in her first year on the ice.
Six new forwards, including transfer students Emma Clark (East Barre, Vt.; St. Lawrence) and Molly Morrison (So. Burlington, Vt.; Vermont), are welcomed into the program this season.
Clark, a sophomore, skated in 32 games a year ago for SLU and tallied three points, all on goals. Prior to that, she was Culver Academy's leading scorer three consecutive years.
Morrison was a two-year letterwinner at UVM, where she compiled 13 goals (10 power-play goals) and 14 assists for 27 points in 68 games.
That duo will be joined by freshmen Paige Goloubef (Oakville, Ontario), Kristine Horn (Utica, Mich.), Katie Kleinendorst (No. Andover, Mass.) and Kristina Lavoie (Fonthill, Ontario).
UNH's defensive unit is headed by the junior triumvirate of Courtney Birchard (Mississauga, Ontario), Raylen Dziengelewski (Southwick, Mass.) and Courtney Sheary (Melrose, Mass.).
Sheary returned from a redshirt year in ‘08 to bolster the defensive unit last season. In addition to providing solid play in the defensive zone, Sheary contributed six points with one goal and five assists as she skated in all 35 games.
Dziengelewski is another defensive defenseman. She also skated in all 35 games and tallied two goals and seven assists for nine points.
Birchard, in a short period of time (16 games), has proven to be a valuable asset on the blue line with her ability to break the puck out of the defensive zone either by carrying the puck or with a pass; she also added 10 points (5g, 5a). In 35 games, she compiled 23 points (9g, 14a).
Sarah Cuthbert (E. Falmouth, Mass.) was a defenseman prior to her arrival in Durham, but she dressed as a forward for the ‘Cats in the ‘09 season. Cuthbert skated in 34 of 35 games and contributed three points with two goals and one assist. She will see time back at the blue line this season.
Four freshmen - Sarah Adams (Stoney Creek, Ontario), Katie Brock (Marblehead, Mass.), Kailey Chappell (Pickering, Ontario) and Bryanna Farris (Carleton Place, Ontario) - will figure into the mix on the blue line.
New Hampshire has two proven players between the pipes and can rely on both any given day.
Kayley Herman (Weyburn, Saskatchewan) followed her record-setting rookie year with a solid sophomore campaign in ‘09. In 25 games, Herman went 14-6-5 with a 2.29 GAA, .900 save percentage and two shutouts. She had a 7-2-4 record with a 1.93 GAA and .908 save percentage in 13 Hockey East league games.
Herman excelled at home, where she compiled a 10-1-3 record with a 1.48 GAA and .933 save percentage. And during UNH's 15-game winning streak, she registered six wins with a 1.50 GAA and .936 save percentage.
In two years, Herman is 43-9-6 with a 1.58 GAA, .920 save percentage and 11 shutouts.
Lindsey Minton (Richardson, Texas) went a perfect 10-0-0 last year as a freshman with a 1.72 GAA, .916 save percentage and one shutout. She played in 12 games overall and had 10 starts, including one in the Hockey East championship game. Minton stopped 20 of 21 shots she faced, including all 11 in the second period, in that title game vs. Boston College.
In nine league games, Minton was 8-0-0 with a 1.56 GAA and .917 save percentage. She had a 1.23 GAA, .939 save percentage and four wins at the Whittemore Center.
Minton also proved herself against the nation's elite with a 4-0-0 record, 1.96 GAA and .919 save percentage; that included back-to-back road wins against Harvard and UConn.
New Hampshire has a storied history as the winningest women's ice hockey program, and the Wildcats will once again make history January 8, 2010, when they play the first outdoor women's ice hockey game against Northeastern University at Fenway Park, home of MLB's Boston Red Sox.
UNH takes the ice for the first time in the 2009-10 season September 26 (5 p.m.) in an exhibition game against the Durham Lightning.
The ‘Cats officially open the campaign with six consecutive home games. The first to come to town is league rival UConn on Oct. 3, and another school from the Nutmeg State - Quinnipiac University - faces off against the Wildcats the next day. It will be the first meeting between the programs since the 2002-03 season, when both were members of the ECAC Eastern League.
UNH then battles five schools from the Empire State. Colgate, a team that upended the ‘Cats in Hamilton (N.Y.) a year ago, travels to town for an October 9 matchup. Syracuse University, in its second year as a varsity program (with familiar face Paul Flanagan, formerly of St. Lawrence, behind the bench), is the next day's opponent.
Niagara University, with first-year head coach Chris MacKenzie, comes to the Whittemore Center for a two-game series vs. the ‘Cats on Oct. 17-18.
New Hampshire hits the road for the first time with a trip to northern New York to battle Clarkson and St. Lawrence.
UNH concludes October with its second Hockey East game of the season - once again vs. UConn at home.
One day later, the calendar turns to November and features a home game against Maine.
Next on the docket is a home-and-home series vs. Boston University, a team the Wildcats did not defeat last year (0-1-2 with two shootout losses), and the "Battle of the ‘Cats" at Vermont.
UNH then makes a midweek trip to play regional rival Harvard University and plays host to Rensselaer for the first ever meeting vs. the Engineers.
The Whittemore Center will be the site of a stop on Team USA's Qwest Tour, as the national team skates against a Hockey East All-Star Team on November 22.
The Wildcats face league foes Northeastern, Providence and Boston College before concluding the fall semester - and the non-conference portion of the schedule - Dec. 12 at intrastate rival Dartmouth College.
New Hampshire rings in the new year with the landmark game at Fenway Park on January 8 and then turns its focus to a home-and-home series against longtime nemesis PC.
The ‘Cats conclude the month by completing their season series against both Northeastern and Maine.
February opens with a home game against Boston U. and a trip to UConn, and continues with a two-game set against UVM.
Senior Day will be held February 20 against Boston College and the regular season ends the next day with a road game vs. those Eagles.
The 2010 postseason schedule opens February 28 with Hockey East first round games. The league tournament concludes March 6-7 with the semifinal and final games at the site of the highest seed; the league implemented that format last season and UNH was the host as the regular season champion.
The NCAA tournament begins the following weekend with four quarterfinal games on campus sites - UNH has been a host each of the last four years - and the Frozen Four is March 19-21.