Game Notes: Women's Hockey Concludes Regular Season vs. #7 Boston College

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The Matchup

    The University of New Hampshire women's ice hockey team closes out the 2011 regular season with a home-and-home series against seventh-ranked Boston College. The teams face off Feb. 19 at BC's Conte Forum and play the regular-season finale Feb. 20 at UNH's Whittemore Center. Both games begin at 2 p.m.
    UNH has a 44-4-3 overall record, including this year's 3-1 home loss (Nov. 28), against Boston College. The Wildcats have won five consecutive road games and lost two straight home games vs. the Eagles. UNH, which has a 7-2-1 edge in the last 10 meetings, has a 20-2-2 home record and 23-2-1 road mark against BC.
    Back in November at the Whittemore Center, Brittany Skudder broke a scoreless tie 43 seconds into the second stanza to give the 'Cats a 1-0 lead. Lindsey Minton, who finished with a career-high 37 saves, made that one-goal advantage stand until Kelly Stack scored with 2:48 remaining in regulation to tie the score. Forty-six seconds later, Stack struck again to put the Eagles ahead 2-1. With Minton on the bench in favor of an extra skater, BC's Mary Restuccia added an empty-net goal with five seconds on the clock.
    BC finished the game with a 40-13 shot advantage that included 23-5 in the third period. The Eagles were scoreless on six power-play opportunities (10 shots).

The State of New Hampshire
    New Hampshire is 5-3-1 spanning the last nine games and that includes road wins against three nationally-ranked teams – Jan. 15 at Providence (2-1), Jan. 22 at Northeastern (4-3 in overtime) and Feb. 3 at Boston U., and climbed to a .500 winning percentage for the first time since Dec. 1 with that Feb. 3 win at BU (13-13-0 record).
    UNH has split four consecutive two-game weekend series; the Wildcats lost the opening game three times. The trend started Jan. 14-15 with a home-and-home series vs. Providence (both road teams won) and continued with a home series vs. Maine, home-and-home against Boston U. and a road series at Vermont.
    UNH's penalty kill unit has not surrendered a goal in February spanning 24 shorthanded situations.
    In three consecutive games against top-10 ranked power play units, the Wildcats' penalty kill was a perfect 14 of 14; the 'Cats were 10-for-10 in two games vs. Boston U. and 4 of 4 against Quinnipiac.

Developing the Playoff Picture
    UNH, currently sixth in the Hockey East standings with two games remaining, could finish anywhere from fifth to eighth in the final standings; the top six teams qualify for the league tournament.
    The Wildcats trail fifth-place Northeastern University by two points (NU holds the tiebreaker, therefore the 'Cats would have to outpoint the Huskies by at least three points to climb in the standings).
    UNH is one point ahead of Maine (Maine holds the tiebreaker) and two in front of Vermont (UNH holds the tiebreaker).

'Cat Nips
    Since returning from injury Jan. 22, Kayley Herman has a 4-2-1 record, including two victories against nationally-ranked teams, with a .942 save percentage (213 saves/226 shots). She finished with a school-record 52-save effort Feb. 3 at third-ranked Boston University and had a 40-save effort in a 4-3 overtime win at nationally-ranked Northeastern University (Jan. 22). Herman stopped 24 of 25 shots in the Feb. 8 tie at Quinnipiac University and recorded her first shutout of the season Feb. 12 at Vermont (27 saves; 2-0 victory).
    Nicole Gifford tallied her first career multiple-point game Feb. 11 at Vermont with a goal and assist.
    Kristina Lavoie tallied an assist in both of last weekend's games at Vermont. She has tallied 13 of her 19 points in Hockey East action (19 games).

Saluting the Seniors
    UNH will honor its six seniors – Julie Allen, Courtney Birchard, Raylen Dziengelewski, Kayley Herman, Molly Morrison and Courtney Sheary – prior to opening faceoff of its Feb. 20 regular-season finale at the Whittemore Center.
    This group of players helped lead UNH to back-to-back Hockey East regular-season and tournament titles as well as three consecutive NCAA tournament appearances, including one trip to the Frozen Four.

UNH Records 700th Win
    UNH, now in its 34th year at the varsity level, is the winningest women's college hockey program in the United States with an overall record of 701-190-65 for a .768 winning percentage. The Wildcats attained the most recent century milestone Feb. 3, 2011 with a 4-2 road victory against third-ranked Boston University.
    In 33+ years, the Wildcats have won one national championship (1998; AWCHA), four Hockey East tournament championships, six Hockey East regular-season titles, five ECAC tournament championships and four EAIAW championships. UNH has made five consecutive NCAA tourney appearances (2006-10) with two trips to the Frozen Four in that span.
    The Wildcats became the first to reach the milestone of 600 victories in January 2007. Here is a time line for each century mark:
Mark    Date    Opponent    Result    Game #    Record
1st win    12/03/77    Colby    8-4    1    1-0-0
100    02/02/83    at Dartmouth    7-1    103    100-1-2
200    01/15/89    St. Lawrence    5-2    227    200-20-7
300    11/27/94    vs. Providence    5-2    371    300-55-16
400    11/21/98    at Yale    9-2    506    400-80-26
500    02/02/03    Providence    4-1    668    500-131-37
600    01/13/07    Maine    3-1    806    600-155-51
700    02/03/11    at Boston U.    4-2    953    700-189-64

200 Wins at The Whitt
    New Hampshire recorded its 200th victory at the Whittemore Center with a 4-2 victory Jan. 30 against Maine. Since the Whitt opened in the 1995-96 season, the UNH women's ice hockey team has a 200-43-24 home record, which calculates to a .794 winning percentage.

A History of Winning
    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 lowest single-season win total of 14 was in the 1994 season (14-10-3 record).

Wildcats in the Nation
    Here is how UNH stacks up against Boston College in the national statistics (35 teams; through Feb. 17):
    UNH    BC
Offense (gpg)    27 (1.90)    11 (2.97)
Defense (gpg)    13 (2.17)    7 (1.81)
PP (%)    29 (.095)    11 (.173)
PK (%)    5 (.913)    8 (.883)

What Just Happened?
    UNH split last weekend's series at Vermont (4-2 loss, 2-0 win) in which goaltender Kayley Herman stopped 48 of 52 shots (.923 save percentage), Kristina Lavoie tallied an assist in both games and Nicole Gifford recorded her first career multiple-point game (1g, 1a).
    In the series opener, UVM took a 3-0 lead into the third period. Gifford struck early in the frame and Courtney Birchard netted an extra-attacker goal with 3:30 remaining to lift the Wildcats within 3-2. Herman was pulled again in favor of an extra skater but this time the Catamounts potted an empty-net goal with 30 seconds to play to secure the win.
    The following day, UNH scored in the first and second periods and Herman recorded her first shutout of the season with a 27-save effort. Maggie Hunt's unassisted goal –her second tally of the year – proved to be the game-winning goal.

What's Up Next?
    The 9th Annual Women's Hockey East Association Championship tournament begins next weekend. UNH has advanced to the semifinals (or beyond) each of the previous eight years.

Home / Road Splits
    UNH has a sub-.500 record at home (7-8-0) and has been outscored 29-24 in 15 games at the Whittemore Center. After opening with five consecutive home wins, the Wildcats are 2-8-0 in the last 10 games in Durham. Kristina Lavoie (5g, 5a in 15 games) and Courtney Birchard (3g, 5a in 12 games) are the top point producers at the Whittemore Center. Lindsey Minton is 6-7-0 with a 1.78 GAA, .931 save percentage and four shutouts. Kayley Herman has a 1-1-0 mark with a 2.02 GAA and .925 save percentage.
    The Wildcats have a 7-6-1 road record that includes 5-4-0 in Hockey East. Arielle O'Neill (7g, 5a), Kristine Horn (2g, 6a) and Kristina Lavoie (3g, 5a) are the top point producers in road venues. Herman is 5-3-1 with a 2.33 GAA and .924 save percentage in nine games while Minton has a 2-3-0 record with a 2.00 GAA and .912 save percentage in five games.
    UNH is averaging slightly more shots per game on the road (25.4) than at home (23.1). The power play is slightly better at home (6-for-47) than on the road (4-for-51).

Close Calls
    New Hampshire has a 7-4 record in games decided by one goal and that includes 3-3 in Hockey East as well as 2-1 in overtime. All three games vs. UConn had a one goal margin (1-2 record).

Scoring Breakdown
    New Hampshire has been outscored 27-18 in the third period (including 23-9 in 19 Hockey East league games), but the Wildcats have a slight edge in the second (19-18) period.
    UNH scored four goals three times in a four-game span (in late January) after going a stretch of 15 consecutive games with less than three goals. Prior to that Jan. 22 overtime victory (4-3) at Northeastern, the Wildcats had not scored more than two goals in a game since defeating St. Lawrence University by a score of 5-3 on Oct. 23.
    The Wildcats have won all six games in which they have scored at least three goals, and they are 3-11-0 when surrendering three or more goals.

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