January 19, 2011

Game Notes: Women's Hockey Completes Season Series vs. Northeastern on the Road (Jan. 22)

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The Matchup

    The University of New Hampshire women's ice hockey team concludes the season series against ninth-ranked Northeastern University at Matthews Arena on Jan. 22 (2 p.m.).
    UNH has a 76-30-8 lifetime record against Northeastern, but the Huskies prevailed 4-0 (Dec. 1) and 4-2 (Jan. 9) at the Whittemore Center earlier this season. The Wildcats carried a 27-game unbeaten streak (26-0-1) vs. NU into that December matchup.
    New Hampshire has a 31-14-1 road record in this series and has won 12 consecutive games vs. NU at Matthews Arena dating back to Northeastern's 3-2 win on Feb. 2, 2002 (02/02/02).
    In the most recent meeting, the Huskies struck quickly – 3:21 into the game – and took a 3-0 lead into the first intermission. The Wildcats trimmed the deficit to two goals at 4:07 of the second period, then the teams exchanged power-play goals in a 51-second span to push the score to 4-2. NU was whistled for a minor penalty with 2:46 remaining in the game and UNH pulled goaltender Lindsey Minton to gain a two-skater advantage, but the 'Cats did not score. Minton finished with 29 saves while counterpart Leah Sulyma stopped 26 shots.
    In the first meeting of the season, the teams skated to a scoreless tie through two periods with UNH holding an 18-15 shot advantage. Northeastern quickly built a 3-0 lead in the final frame, however, on goals by Rachel Llanes (at 3:18), Julia Marty (5:36) and Katie MacSorley (5:47). Llanes struck again at 11:47 to close the scoring. Florence Schelling made 22 saves while Minton stopped 25 shots. Both teams went 0-for-2 on the power play.
    NU has not won three consecutive games in this series since capturing four straight spanning the 2001-02 seasons.
    This storied rivalry includes a special part of women's hockey history – the first NCAA outdoor women's ice hockey game Jan. 8, 2010 at Fenway Park. The Wildcats scored four times in the third period to overcome a two-goal deficit and prevail 5-3 at the home of the Boston Red Sox.

The State of New Hampshire
    New Hampshire's game scheduled for Jan. 18 at 10th-ranked Quinnipiac was postponed due to inclement weather. The game will be played Tuesday, February 8 (7 p.m.) at the TD Bank Sports Center.
    The Wildcats ended a streak of nine consecutive losses in league play by defeating ninth-ranked Providence College, 2-1, at Schneider Arena on Jan. 15.
    Six of UNH's last 10 regular-season games are against teams ranked in this week's national polls. Northeastern climbed to #9 in the USA Hockey poll but slipped out of the USCHO poll.
    The Wildcats are tied for seventh place (with Vermont) in the Hockey East standings – the top six teams qualify for Hockey East postseason play – with nine league games remaining. UNH and UVM trail Maine by two points for that final playoff spot. New Hampshire has two games remaining against both Maine and UVM.
    In 33 years, UNH has never finished with a losing record. The only non-winning season was 2001, when the 'Cats finished 17-17-0. The record for fewest goals in a season (99) and lowest scoring average (2.96 gpg) was established last season; this year's squad has 35 goals in 20 games for an average of 1.75 gpg.

Skating Strides Against Breast Cancer
    In February 2007, Hockey East debuted its inaugural "Skating Strides Against Breast Cancer". The one-day event was hosted by Hockey East schools as a way to establish a greater fan base, to raise needed funds, and to work with the specific charities to raise awareness for both the league and the specific cause.
    In the initial year, close to $20,000 was donated back to local breast cancer charities (Friends of Mel's Foundation and the American Cancer Society), vastly exceeding expectations. Last year, over $23,000 was raised to bring the four-year total to over $114,000. "Skating Strides" has won two national awards at NACMA in the "Single Day Attendance Promotion" category in 2007 and 2009.
    The fifth annual "Skating Strides Against Breast Cancer" will have an event on every WHEA campus this season, as well as participation by all of the Hockey East men's teams.
    At UNH's Whittemore Center, the dates are Jan. 29 for the men (vs. Providence) and Jan. 30 for the women (vs. Maine). You can support the fight against breast cancer by purchasing a raffle ticket for a team-signed jersey.

'Cat Nips
    Molly Morrison scored her first goal as a UNH Wildcat with a game-winning tally at ninth-ranked Providence on Jan. 15; that game was her 52nd in a UNH jersey. Morrison also recorded an assist that game to mark her first multiple-point effort as a Wildcat.
    Lindsey Minton made 31 saves to backbone New Hampshire to a 2-1 victory at ninth-ranked Providence College on Jan. 15. That total is her second highest of the season (to her personal best of 37 vs. Boston College on Nov. 28).
    Emma Clark has three assists this season, and she has set up both of Sarah Campbell's goals – Nov. 14 at UConn; Jan. 15 at Providence.
    A freshman –Arielle O'Neill – leads the team in goals (eight), points (12), and plus/minus (+5) and sophomore Kristine Horn is atop the assist leaderboard with seven.
    Julie Allen, Kristina Lavoie and Arielle O'Neill are tied for the team lead in Hockey East league scoring with five points apiece. O'Neill has three goals and two assists while Allen and Lavoie both have two goals and three assists.

Wildcats in the Nation
    Here is how UNH stacks up against Northeastern in the national statistics (35 teams; through Jan. 19):
    UNH    NU
Offense (gpg)    29 (1.68)    17 (2.61)
Defense (gpg)    11 (2.14)    13 (2.22)
PP (%)    32 (.079)    17 (.160)
PK (%)    4 (.909)    29 (.814)

What Just Happened?
    UNH is coming off a home-and-home split against ninth-ranked Providence in which the Friars won 2-0 on Friday (at UNH) and the Wildcats prevailed 2-1 on Saturday (at PC).
    With Saturday's game tied 1-1 early in the third period, Molly Morrison netted an unassisted goal at 5:19 and goaltender Lindsey Minton stopped all six shots she faced the rest of the way to preserve the victory. Minton finished with 31 saves and Morrison tallied two points, as she also assisted on Sarah Campbell's first period goal that tied the score at 1.
    In last Friday's game at the Whittemore Center, the 'Cats recorded a 31-19 shot advantage but Providence skated to a 2-0 win.

What's Up Next?
    Following Saturday's game at Northeastern, the Wildcats return to action next weekend for a two-game home series against Maine on Jan. 29-30 (opening faceoff for both games is 2 p.m.). Jan. 29 is "Restore Hockey Drive" day in which fans are encouraged to donate used hockey gear – all donations will go to local youth hockey programs. Then Sunday the 30th is Hockey East's annual Skating Strides Against Breast Cancer fundraising initiative.

Home / Road Splits
    UNH has a .500 record at home (6-6-0) despite being outscored 17-21 in 12 games at the Whittemore Center. After opening with five consecutive home wins, the Wildcats are 1-6-0 in the last seven games in Durham. Kristina Lavoie (4g, 3a in 12 games) and Courtney Birchard (2g, 4a in nine games) are the top point producers at the Whittemore Center. Lindsey Minton is 6-6-0 with a 1.68 GAA, .936 save percentage and four shutouts.
    The Wildcats have a 4-5-0 road record that includes 2-3-0 in Hockey East. Arielle O'Neill (4g, 2a) and Julie Allen (3g, 3a) are the top point producers in road venues. Minton has a 2-3-0 record with a 2.00 GAA and .912 save percentage in five games while Kayley Herman is 2-2-0 with a 3.02 GAA and .885 save percentage in four games.
    UNH is averaging more shots per game on the road (26.3) than at home (23.2). The power play is virtually the same whether at the Whittemore Center or another locale; the 'Cats are 3-for-35 at home and 3-for-34 on the road.

Scoring Breakdown
    New Hampshire has outscored the opposition 13-12 in the second stanza, but the Wildcats have been outscored 14-13 in the first period as well as 20-10 in the third period (including 16-2 in 12 Hockey East league games).
    UNH has not scored more than two goals in a game since defeating St. Lawrence University by a score of 5-3 on Oct. 23 – a stretch of 15 consecutive games with less than three goals. Overall, the 'Cats have scored less than three goals in 19 of 22 games.

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