Vaattovaara's 36 Saves Backbones Women's Hockey to 3-1 Win at #2 BC
CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. – Vilma Vaattovaara (Veikkola, Finland) recorded 36 saves and both Nicole Gifford (Ennismore, Ontario) and Sara Carlson (Hutchinson, Minn.) tallied two points apiece to lead the University of New Hampshire women's ice hockey team to Wednesday night's 3-1 victory against second-ranked Boston College at Conte Forum.
UNH extended its unbeaten streak to three games (2-0-1) to improve to 3-2-1 overall and move atop the Hockey East standings at 1-0-1. BC is now 3-1-0, 1-1-0.
Vaattovaara stopped the last 21 shots she faced, including all seven in the second period and all 14 in the third. Gifford finished with a goal and an assist while Carlson tallied a career-high two assists to match her personal best of two points. Arielle O'Neill (St Catharines, Ontario) and Cassandra Vilgrain (Calgary, Alberta) netted UNH's other goals and Alexis Crossley (Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia) was credited with an assist.
BC netminder Corinne Boyles made 24 saves. Haley Skarupa scored for the Eagles.
UNH netted the first two goals of the game to build a 2-0 lead. Vaattovaara stuffed Kristyn Capizzano's two shots on the right doorstep and Lexi Bender in the low slot in the opening 90 seconds of the game and the Wildcats responded with pressure at the other end of the ice. O'Neill dumped the puck in front of the net, where it emerged from a scrum to the left side and she lifted a shot into the open left side at 4:01.
BC went on its first power play at 7:58 but Vaattovaara denied Capizzano in front and Emily Field off the rebound to keep the 'Cats in front 1-0.
New Hampshire converted its first power-play opportunity into a goal and 2-0 advantage at 13:05. Crossley initiated the scoring sequence with a pass from the high slot to Carlson in the right circle. Carlson swung the puck down low to Gifford at the right post and she slid a low shot into the net.
The Eagles gained another power play just 16 seconds later and this time Vaattovaara made three saves to preserve UNH's two-goal lead.
In the last minute of the first period, the 'Cats committed a pair of turnovers that led to a BC goal with four seconds on the clock. Kate Leary stole the puck in the right faceoff circle and skated in alone on Vaattovaara, who made the glove save against a point-blank shot. New Hampshire controlled the ensuing faceoff, but the Eagles gained control on the left halfboards, where Skarupa maneuvered to the faceoff dot. Her shot was redirected and fluttered into the net to lift the Eagles within 2-1.
UNH's second power play at 2:49 of the second period yielded four shots, all of which were stopped by Boyles. Midway through the stanza, Crossley's low shot from the right point sailed through a double screen, but Boyles made the save with her stick and covered the puck. One minute later, UNH generated a dangerous transition opportunity when Crossley snapped a pass out of the defensive zone and Hannah Armstrong (Keswick, Ontario) made a touch pass ahead to Jessica Hitchcock (LaSalle, Ontario). Hitchcock skated down the slot, but a backcheking Eagle prevented a shot.
Boston College quickly advanced the puck to the other end of the ice and with two Eagles alone down low, Taylor Wasylik was stoned by Vaattovaara on the right doorstep.
With UNH on the power play at 13:00, Carlson sidestepped a defender in the right circle and her wrister to the far post was batted away by Boyles. BC then generated a shorthanded bid in which Melissa Bizzari, alone in the slot, shot wide of the left post.
The Wildcats were whistled for hooking at 13:55 to make it 4-on-4 for 25 seconds prior to a BC power play. During that skater advantage, Vaattovaara stopped Skarupa's slapshot from the high slot. Hannah Armstrong exited the penalty box and corralled the puck in the neutral zone to create a 1-on-1 opportunity, and her shot from the slot was gloved by Boyles.
UNH extended its lead to 3-1 with a power-play goal at 18:23. From the right point, Carlson advanced the puck down low to Gifford and her pass across the low slot found Vilgrain alone at the left post for the backdoor goal.
New Hampshire opened the third period with 1:53 remaining on a power play, but then was shorthanded at 3:09. With BC's power play winding down, O'Neill made a brilliant pokecheck in the slot to deny the Eagles' 3-on-1 oddskater rush.
Boston College went back on the power play at 7:12, but this time the Wildcats didn't allow a shot and Crossley created a dangerous shorthanded bid when her shot from the slot ricoched off a defender's legpad and nearly eluded Boyles.
Midway through the final frame, a BC blocked shot continued to the net and the stick of Julie fish alone in the slot, but her low shot from close range was enveloped by Vaattovaara.
BC gained its sixth power play of the game at 17:30 and Meagan Mangen's slapshot from the right point was snared by Vaattovaara. The Eagles pulled Boyles in favor of an extra skater with 1:24 remaining, but the 'Cats kept the home team on the perimeter and Vaattovaara denied Fields in the waning moments of the two-skater advantage.
UNH cleared the puck out into the neutral zone and Boston College was unable to sustain another rush.
New Hampshire returns to action Oct. 26-27 for a two-game series at Penn State University. The Wildcats' next home game is Nov. 1 against Boston University.