NIAGARA UNIVERSITY, N.Y. – Nicole Gifford (Ennismore, Ontario) and Kristina Lavoie (Fonthill, Ontario) recorded a goal and assist apiece to lead the University of New Hampshire women's ice hockey team to Friday nights' 6-4 non-conference victory against Niagara University in the season opener for both teams at Dwyer Arena.
In addition to Gifford and Lavoie, whose first of two points – a second-period assist – marked her 50th career point, Arielle O'Neill (St. Catharines, Ontario) tallied multiple points with two assists. Caroline Broderick (Marblehead, Mass.), Hannah Armstrong (Newmarket, Ontario), Kristine Horn (Utica, Mich.) and Heather Kashman (Edmonton, Alberta) potted UNH's other goals. In their collegiate debuts, Kashman scored the game's first goal and Kashman scored what proved to be the game-winning goal.
In her collegiate debut, freshman goaltender Jenn Gilligan (Maple Ridge, British Columbia) made 25 saves, including 11 in the first period. Niagara starting goalie Sarah Moses made 21 saves and exited when UNH took a 4-1 lead at 15:55 of the second period. Abby Ryplanski played 23:03 in relief and was charged with the loss in a six-save effort.
UNH generated a 13-11 shot advantage in the first period and took a 1-0 lead into the first intermission on Kashman's unassisted goal at 8:26.
The Wildcats then scored five second-period goals with a 15-4 shot advantage. Gifford, with the assistance of Lavoie and Jenna Lascelle (Cornwall, Ontario), extended the lead to 2-0 at 4:27 and Horn's unassisted goal made it 3-0 at 10:34.
Jenna Hendrikx trimmed the deficit to 3-1 at 11:11, but New Hampshire responded with three goals spanning 2 minutes, 46 seconds to build a 6-1 lead. Lavoie, from Gifford, started the spurt at 15:55 and was followed by Broderick (at 17:41) and Armstrong (18:41). O'Neill tallied an assist on the latter two goals.
The Purple Eagles outscored UNH 3-0 in the final frame with a 9-5 shot advantage. Natasha Fryer scored at 2:27 and Delaney Middlebrook struck at 7:02 to lift Niagara within 6-3. NU went on a power play at 14:27 and gained a two-skater for 90 seconds when a second 'Cat was sent to the penalty box at 14:57, but Gilligan stopped three shots during that span to keep UNH's advantage at three goals.
Kaleigh Chippy pulled the home team within 6-4 at 17:31. Niagara then pulled Ryplanski in favor of an extra skater with 62 seconds remaining, then called time out four seconds later. UNH kept the Purple Eagles at bay, however, and yielded just one more shot on goal.
The six goals marked the highest UNH output since Oct. 18, 2009 against Niagara (6-1 win at the Whittemore Center) and the highest scored by the 'Cats on the road since Feb. 8, 2009 at Vermont (6-2 win).
New Hampshire and Niagara conclude the two-game series Saturday (1 p.m.) at Dwyer Arena. The Wildcats' home opener is Oct. 7 (7 p.m.) against Colgate University and Syracuse University visits the Whittemore Center on Oct. 8 (5 p.m.).