BURLINGTON, Vt. – Nicole Gifford (Peterborough, Ontario) recorded her first career multiple-point game with a goal and an assist, but the University of New Hampshire women's ice hockey team was edged 4-2 by the University of Vermont in Friday night's Hockey East action at Gutterson Fieldhouse.
UNH is now 13-15-1 overall and 6-12-0 in Hockey East. UVM won its third consecutive game to climb into a tie with New Hampshire for sixth place in the league standings at 4-10-4; the Catamounts improved to 7-14-9 overall.
Juli Sifers (2g, 1a) and Erin Wente (1g, 2a) led UVM with three points apiece and goaltender Roxanne Douville made 26 saves. UNH goalie Kayley Herman (Weyburn, Saskatchewan) stopped 21 of the 24 shots she faced – Vermont scored an empty-net goal with 30 seconds remaining to secure the victory.
The Catamounts skated to a 2-0 lead in the first period on goals by Wente (at 6:40) and Sifers (9:27). Sifers extended the home team's lead to 3-0 at 16:57 of the second stanza.
UNH closed with a flurry in the third period, however, and generated a 14-4 shot advantage in that frame. Gifford, with the assistance of Julie Allen (Brampton, Ontario) and Kristine Horn (Utica, Mich.), netted her fifth goal of the season to lift the Wildcats within 3-1 at 5:47.
Birchard's eighth goal of the season – second in as many games – was scored with Herman on the bench in favor of an extra attacker at 16:30. Gifford and Kristina Lavoie (Fonthill, Ontario) were credited with assists.
Herman was pulled again with 2:16 remaining, but this time Kailey Nash potted the empty-net goal to give UVM a two-goal lead and close the scoring.
New Hampshire and UVM conclude the two-game series Saturday (4 p.m.) at Gutterson Fieldhouse. UNH wraps up the 2011 regular season with next weekend's home-and-home series against Boston College. The Wildcats' Senior Day is Feb. 20 (2 p.m.).