GAME NOTES: Women's Ice Hockey "Blue Out the Whitt" vs. Boston U.


The Matchup
    The UNH women's ice hockey team resumes Hockey East league play this weekend with a Blue Out the Whitt game Nov. 24 vs. Boston U. Start time at the Whittemore Center is 2 p.m.
    New Hampshire has a 20-11-3 lifetime record against Boston U. and that includes a 3-1 home loss to the Terriers earlier this month (Nov. 1). Last year, the home team won all three games with the Wildcats winning 4-2 (Nov. 9) and BU defending home ice with 3-2 and 6-0 victories. The home team has won six of the last eight meetings.
    UNH has a 10-4-2 record at home against Boston U., which has the 11-4-3 overall edge since the start of the 2009-10 season.
    In this year's previous matchup, the Wildcats took an early 1-0 lead on Haley Breedlove's goal at 3:29 of the first period. UNH held that one-goal lead until Sarah Lefort struck at 12:12 of the second stanza and the game remained deadlocked until Louise Warren struck at 14:32 of the third period. She added an empty-net goal with 15 seconds remaining to secure BU's victory. UNH goaltender Vilma Vaattovaara finished with 33 saves, including 17 in the second stanza (a personal single-period high). At the other end of the ice, Kerrin Sperry made half of her 22 saves in the first period.

Wilkes Wins Hockey East Defensive Player Award
    Freshman goaltender Ashley Wilkes was named the Women's Hockey East Defensive Player of the Week on Monday, Nov. 18. She made a career-high 27 saves for a .931 save percentage and 2.05 GAA against seventh-ranked Quinnipiac University last Saturday. She shut out the Bobcats in the first period with six saves and followed that with 10 in the second and 11 in the third.

The State of New Hampshire
    New Hampshire enters the weekend with a 6-6-2 overall record that includes 2-2-1 at home and 2-2-2 in Hockey East; in a cross-reference, the Wildcats are 1-1-1 in home league games.
    UNH enters the weekend on a three-game winless streak (0-2-1) following last weekend's road losses to ECAC foes Princeton University (3-1; Nov. 15) and seventh-ranked Quinnipiac University (2-1; Nov. 16).
    The 'Cats had a five-game unbeaten streak (4-0-1) spanning Oct. 4-27. They are 1-4-1 in November.
    In the national statistics, UNH enters the weekend in the middle of the pack in both offense (18th-2.50 gpg) and defense (17th-2.50 gpg). The Wildcats rank seventh in power play (.203) and 15th in penalty kill (.863).
    New Hampshire's penalty kill was a perfect 7-for-7 last weekend.
    The 'Cats went winless in four November road games (0-3-1).
    UNH recorded a season-low eight shots at Quinnipiac last Saturday and that included zero in the third period.

'Cat Nips
    Freshman goaltender Ashley Wilkes recorded a career-high 27 saves in the 2-1 loss at seventh-ranked Quinnipiac University on Nov. 16. It marked just her second career game (both starts) and she now has a 1-1-0 record with a 1.52 GAA and .936 save percentage.
    Senior forward Jessica Hitchcock moved into a tie for the team lead in assists (six) with a helper at Princeton University (Nov. 15).
    Rookie forward Cassandra Vilgrain ranks second on the team in points (nine), third in goals (four) an tied for third in assists (five).

What Just Happened
    UNH, with just 13 skaters and three goalies, traveled to play ECAC foes Princeton and Quinnipiac last weekend and returned home with a 3-1 loss to the Tigers followed by a 2-1 setback against seventh-ranked QU.
    In the game at Princeton, the Wildcats recorded a 6-2 shot advantage in a scoreless first period. It was nearly a scoreless game heading into the second intermission, but the Tigers' Olivia Mucha scored with 1:06 on the clock to take a 1-0 lead. The home team scored twice in the opening minute of the third period to quickly build a 3-0 lead. UNH pulled within 3-1 with 2:53 remaining on a goal by Haley Breedlove and pulled goaltender Vilma Vaattovaara 30 seconds later in favor of an extra skater, but the 'Cats could get no closer. New Hampshire finished with a 25-20 shot advantage, including 14-11 in the third period.
    UNH skated to a 1-0 lead in the opening stanza at Quinnipiac on Arielle O'Neill's fifth goal of the season (at 15:59). Kelly Babstock leveled the score on her own rebound – Ashley Wilkes made a spectacular acrobatic save on the initial shot – at 17:39 of the second period. The game seemed destined for overtime, but Morgan Fritz-Ward gave the Bobcats a 2-1 lead with 2:17 remaining in regulation. The 'Cats  pulled Wilkes in favor of an extra skater with 1:24 to play, but they did not record a shot the rest of the way. Wilkes finished with a career-high 27 saves.

What Happens Next
    Following Sunday's game vs. Boston U., UNH plays host to The Ohio State University for a two-game series Nov. 30 (2 p.m.) and Dec. 1. There will be a "Skate With the 'Cats" following the conclusion of Saturday's game.

That Happened Fast
    UNH entered third period of the Nov. 10 game at Vermont with a 3-0 lead, but the Catamounts scored three times in the opening 4:10 of the final frame to level the score en route to a 3-3 tie.
    In the next game at Princeton (Nov. 15), the Tigers scored three goals in a span of 2:06 to quickly transform a scoreless game into a 3-0 lead. Princeton struck at 18:54 of the second period, then netted goals at 25 and 59 seconds of the third.

Captain of the 'Cats
    Senior forward Nicole Gifford is captain of the 2013-14 Wildcats. She has tallied a point in seven of 14 games as she leads the team in goals (six), power-play goals (three) and points (10). She also ranks second in shots (46).
    Gifford tallied a career-high three assists Oct. 5 vs. Syracuse, and the three points equaled a personal best. She scored the game-winning goal and recorded an assist to lead UNH to a 3-1 win at (then) second-ranked Boston College.
    Junior forward Hannah Armstrong and sophomore defenseman Alexis Crossley are the assistant captains.
    Armstrong matched her personal best of two assists Oct. 26 at Penn State. She recorded an assist in consecutive home games against RIT (Oct. 4) and Syracuse University (Oct. 5) and scored a goal in back-to-back games against Providence College (Nov. 7) and Vermont Nov. 10). Armstrong is tied for third on the team in both assists (five) and points (seven); she is also fourth in shots (39).
    Crossley was a highly decorated freshman in 2012-13 with Hockey East Second Team All-Star, All-Rookie Team, Rookie of the Month and All-Academic Team included among her accolades. Crossley recorded her first points of the 2013-14 season with a two-goal effort vs. Syracuse (Oct. 5) to tie her benchmark for goals in a game; both of those goals were scored on the power play. She tallied an assist in UNH's road win against BC (Oct. 16) and has a total of three points (2g, 1a) in six games; Crossley has missed the past eight games due to injury.

Special Teams
    New Hampshire enters the weekend ranked No. 7 in the nation in power play at .203 (13-for-64); last weekend, the 'Cats were scoreless in six power-play opportunities. UNH went 5-for-8 in the weekend series at Penn State and scored multiple power-play goals three consecutive games (2x5 at BC; 3x5 at PSU; 2x3 at PSU). The Wildcats have scored at least one power-play goal in 7 of 14 games.
    The Wildcats are 15th in penalty kill – 34 teams are ranked – at .863 (63-for-73).
    Nicole Gifford leads all 'Cats with six power-play points (3g, 3a). Sara Carlson (5a) and Cassandra Vilgrain (2g, 2a) are the next top point producers.

Senior Sniper
    Senior forward Jessica Hitchcock is a second-year Wildcat who was also a two-year letterwinner at Niagara University. She scored a goal in her UNH debut and ended the 2012-13 season ranked third in goals (nine) and fifth in points (18). Hitchcock also ranked third in shots.
    This season, Hitchcock has tallied a point in 6 of 14 games with a total of seven points (1g, 6a) – with those stats, she is tied for the lead in assists and tied for third in points. She is also third in plus/minus at +4.

First Blood
    UNH has scored the game's first goal six times in 14 games and is 3-2-1 with wins at St. Lawrence (Sept. 28), at Boston College (Oct. 16) and at Penn State (Oct. 28); the losses were to Boston U. (Nov. 1) and Quinnipiac (Nov. 16). The Wildcats are 3-4-1 when falling behind 1-0.

Playing Catchup
    UNH took a lead into the first intermission for the first time this season – the sixth game of 2013-14 – when the Wildcats held a 2-1 advantage at Boston College (Oct. 16). The 'Cats are 2-2-1 when leading through 20 minutes and 2-0-2 when taking a lead into the third period.
    The Wildcats have trailed at the first intermission five times (2-2-1 record) and at the second intermission four times (1-3-0).

Color Me Blue
    Senior Arielle O'Neill had never skated as a defenseman until taking the blue line Oct. 27 at Penn State. In her debut at the position, O'Neill still contributed offensively with a pair of power-play goals in the third period to propel UNH to an 8-5 victory; the two goals matched her career high. O'Neill also scored the next day in the Wildcats' 3-1 win at PSU. She was honored as Hockey East co-Player of the Week on Oct. 28 for her efforts vs. the Nittany Lions.
    In 14 games this season (F-6, D-8), she has netted five goals to rank second on the team; her goal at Quinnipiac last Saturday gave the 'Cats a 1-0 first period lead. O'Neill is also atop the leaderboard in shots with 52.
    Before making the transition to the blue line, O'Neill was the top 'Cat in the faceoff circle. She won 20 of 25 faceoffs vs. Maine and has a .690 faceoff win percentage (74 of 107) this season. Last year, O'Neill led UNH and ranked second in Hockey East with a .645 win percentage.
    O'Neill tallied her first point of the 2013-14 season when she scored a first-period goal to give the Wildcats a 1-0 lead at second-ranked Boston College (Oct. 16) and that proved to be the game-winning goal. She also made a key defensive play in the third period when a her pokecheck thwarted a 3-on-1 rush and preserved UNH's 3-1 lead.
Against the Best
    UNH has a 1-1-0 record against nationally-ranked teams. In its first  game against a nationally-ranked team this season, the Wildcats were 3-1 road victors against (then) No. 2 Boston College on Oct. 16. Most recently, the 'Cats led 1-0 midway through the game at No. 7 Quinnipiac, but the Bobcats netted goals late in both the second and third periods to record a 2-1 victory.
    Last year, the Wildcats were 3-7-1 in 11 games against nationally-ranked opponents with home wins against BC (4-3) and Boston University (4-2) as well as a 3-1 road win against Northeastern University and a 2-2 tie at home vs. Harvard University.

Setting The Table
    Sara Carlson, who was equal finisher, equal playmaker last year as a freshman with seven goals and seven assists for 14 points, leads the 2013-14 Wildcats in assists with six. She also has one goal for a total of seven points, which is tied for third on the team.
    Carlson recorded a career-high two assists in the 3-1 win at (then) No. 2 Boston College (Oct. 16) and tallied one assist in the weekend series at Penn State.
    In the opening weekend of the season at St. Lawrence, Carlson tallied an assist in the first game (Sept. 27) and scored the game-winning goal the next day vs. the Saints.

Kashing In
    Heather Kashman (sophomore) returns from a redshirt season in 2012-13. Injury sidelined Kashman last year after recording 10 points (7g, 3a) as a freshman in 2011-12.
    Kashman has tallied a point in 4 of 14 games this season and is tied for fourth in goals (three).
    The forward has matched her career high of two points twice this season, most recently with a goal and an assist at Penn State on Oct. 26. Kashman also finished with 1g, 1a against Maine (Oct. 13).
    In the faceoff circle, Kashman has won 65 of 142 draws (.458). She has taken the second most faceoffs on the team (behind Nicole Gifford 314).

The Puck Stops Here
    The Wildcats have three goaltenders on the 2013-14 roster with two returning netminders (two sophomores) and one freshman.
    Vilma Vaattovaara had a strong start to the season with a 4-0-1 record, 2.16 GAA and .928 save percentage through October. In two Hockey East league games, she went 2-0-0 with a 1.44 GAA and .946 save percentage.
    In 10 games overall (all starts), Vaattovaara is 5-3-2 with a 2.37 GAA and .919 save percentage. In six Hockey East games, she is 2-2-2 with a 2.12 GAA and .928 save percentage.
    Vaattovaara was honored as Hockey East co-Player of the Week following her career-high 41-save effort in a 2-1 win at St. Lawrence (Sept. 28). She made 36 saves to lead UNH to a 3-1 victory at second-ranked BC (Oct. 16) and was honored as Hockey East Defensive Player of the Week.
    Marie-Eve Jean is 0-2-0 with a 3.55 GAA and .860 save percentage in two games (both starts) this season. She made a season-high 27 saves in the Sept. 27 season opener at SLU (4-2 loss).
    Ashley Wilkes made her collegiate debut with the Oct. 28 start at Penn State University and earned her first career win, 3-1, with a 17-save effort. She blanked the Nittany Lions in both the first and third periods with five and 10 saves, respectively. The only goal allowed was on a PSU two-skater advantage.
    Wilkes was honored as Hockey East Defensive Player of the Week on Nov. 18 following a 27-save effort against seventh-ranked Quinnipiac University. She held the Bobcats scoreless in the first period (six saves) and followed that with 10 saves in the second and 11 in the third.

She's Positive
    Junior forward Kayla Mork leads the all Wildcats (alongside Haley Breedlove) in plus/minus rating at +5. She recorded a career-high three points with one goal and two assists Oct. 26 at Penn State; the two assists matched a personal best. Mork also finished with multiple points (1g, 1a) in the Nov. 7 win against Providence. In 14 games, Mork has a total of seven points (2g, 5a) to tie for third on the team in both assists and points. Last weekend, she tallied an assist at Princeton.
    Sophomore forward Haley Breedlove was out the opening weekend at SLU but skated in each of the last 12 games. She tallied her first point of the season with a goal at home against Boston U. (Nov. 1), and netted a third-period goal last Friday at Princeton.

Blue Line
    Juniors Caroline Broderick and Jess Ryan as well as sophomore Megan Armstrong are logging a lot of minutes for UNH's defense, which has been hit by injury to Alexis Crossley and Kate Haslett.
    Broderick has also contributed four points (2g, 2a). She recorded her first career multiple-point game with a goal and an assist Oct. 26 at Penn State. She tallied her first point of the season with a goal Sept. 28 at St. Lawrence and was credited with an assist vs. Maine (Oct. 13).
    Ryan scored her first career goal and finished the game with two goals – both on the power play – to lift UNH to 3-1 win at Penn State (Oct. 27). She opened the game scoring and then struck again to give the 'Cats a 2-0 lead. Ryan also netted the game-winning goal against Providence (Nov. 7) when she gave the 'Cats a 3-2 lead. In 14 games, Ryan has tallied five points, including an assist last Saturday vs. nationally-ranked Quinnipiac. She leads all defensemen and is fourth overall in plus/minus at +3.
    Armstrong has four points, all on assists. She recorded three of her points the Nov. 7-10 weekend against Providence (1a) and Vermont (2a). The two assists against the Catamounts matched her personal best.

Working Overtime
    Including this season's pair of OT games, each of UNH's last six regular-season overtime games have ended in a tie – the Wildcats were defeated in OT of the 2013 Hockey East quarterfinal (5-4 at home by Providence College) after all four regular-season overtime games were ties.
    The most recent UNH win or loss in a regular-season OT game was a 4-3 loss at Maine (Feb. 18, 2012). Earlier in the season, the 'Cats prevailed 3-2 in overtime against Union College on Nov. 29, 2011.

The McCloskey File
    Brian McCloskey (Dartmouth '77), who recorded his 200th career victory Dec. 8, 2009 at Boston College (4-0 win), is in his 12th year at the helm of the Wildcats. He is a four-time Hockey East Coach of the Year recipient (2003, 2005, 2006, 2009) and was runner-up in both the 2003 and 2006 national Coach of the Year balloting. He has directed UNH to the NCAA Women's Ice Hockey Championship five consecutive years (2006-10) with four consecutive Hockey East tournament titles (2006-09) and six straight league regular-season crowns (2004-09). The 'Cats advanced to the Frozen Four in '06 and '08.
    A Wildcat was honored as Player of the Year each of the first four years of Hockey East's existence. In addition, the ITECH Goaltending Champion award was presented to a UNH goalie each of the first six years and the Scoring Champion has five times been a Wildcat.
    McCloskey has compiled a 252-110-40 overall record, including a 153-54-23 mark in Hockey East, with 20+ wins each of the initial seven seasons.
    In his first year (2003) as head coach of the program, he led the 'Cats to a 27-7-2 record, which is now the fifth-best single-season win mark behind those established in 2006 & 2008 (33), 1998 (31) and 2007 (28).
    Under his tutelage, five players have received a total of six All-America honors and five have been honored as a Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award Top 10 Finalist.
    Coach McCloskey's predecessors at UNH also exceeded 200 victories. Russ McCurdy compiled a 264-36-10 record from 1978-92 and Karen Kay went 215-90-25 from 1993-2002.

Lights. Camera. Action!
    The UNH women's ice hockey team will have four home games broadcast on television – two on the Live Well Network (sister station of WBIN-TV) and two on Fox College Sports. Here is the schedule:
 Sat. Oct. 5    Syracuse    Live Well Network    3-2 win
 Sun. Dec. 1    Ohio State    Live Well Network    1 pm
 Sun. Feb. 9    UConn    Fox College Sports    2 pm
 Sat. Feb. 15    Vermont    Fox College Sports    2 pm

On The Air
     A total of nine games will be broadcast on the Wildcats Sports Radio Network – Fox Sports WPKX-AM 930 (Dover-Portsmouth-Rochester) and WGIR-AM 610 (Manchester). Here is that schedule:
 Sun. Oct. 13    Maine    2-2 tie
 Thur. Nov. 7    Providence    4-2 win
 Sun. Dec. 1    Ohio State    12:45 pm
 Sun. Dec. 8    Dartmouth    1:45 pm
 Fri. Jan. 10    Providence    6:45 pm
 Sun. Jan. 19    UConn    1:45 pm
 Sun. Feb. 9    UConn    1:45 pm
 Sat. Feb. 15    Vermont    1:45 pm
 Sun. Feb. 23    Northeastern    1:45 pm

Scouting the Terriers
    Boston University, ranked No. 9 in the nation, enters the weekend with a 10-2-1 overall record that includes 6-0-0 in Hockey East and 4-1-1 on the road; the Terriers are 2-0-0 in league road games. BU faces off against Harvard on Friday before traveling to Durham to play UNH.
    Last weekend, BU made the trek to Vail, Colo., and returned home with a 2-0 win against St. Cloud State and 5-0 loss to Wisconsin. That loss ended an eight-game win streak that included a 3-1 victory at UNH on Nov. 1.
    BU enters the weekend ranked No. 9 in the nation in offense (3.15 gpg) and No. 6 in defense (1.77 gpg) as well as 21st in power play (.146) and third in penalty kill (.917).
    Senior forward Louise Warren leads the team in both goals (eight) and points (13); she ranks 11th in the nation in goals per game. Sophomore forward Sarah Lefort ranks second in goals (seven) and is tied for the lead in points. Freshman forward Maddie Elia had a team-high eight assists and is third in points (11). Both sophomore forward Rebecca Russo (5-5-10) and freshman forward Samantha Sutherland (3-7-10) have also reached double digits in points.
    Senior goaltender Kerrin Sperry has started 11 of 13 games. She has a 9-1-1 record with a 1.52 GAA and .947 save percentage with one shutout.
    Boston U. has been shut out in both of its losses (also 3-0 at Robert  Morris; Oct. 19). The Terriers are 8-0-1 when scoring the first goal and 2-2 when falling behind 1-0. BU has won all three games decided by one goal, and that includes an overtime win at Northeastern.

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