GAME NOTES: Women's Hockey Travels to Maine For Two Games (Feb. 1-2)


The Matchup
    The University of New Hampshire women's ice hockey team travels to Orono, Maine for a two-game series against the University of Maine at Alfond Arena on Feb. 1-2. Both games begin at 3 p.m.
    UNH has a 36-6-5 lifetime record, including a 2-2 tie at the Whittemore Center (Oct. 13, 2013), against Maine. The Wildcats have a 16-2-2 road record and prevailed 2-1 in the only game at Alfond Arena last season (Nov. 17, 2012).
    Prior to UNH's current four-game unbeaten streak (2-0-2) in the series, Maine had won five of the previous six meeting and that included a season-series sweep in 2011-12.
    Back in October, the 'Cats recorded a 52-19 shot advantage as the teams skated to a 2-2 draw. Maine took a 1-0 lead into the first intermission despite being outshot 17-5. UNH took a 2-1 lead in the second stanza when Cassandra Vilgrain and Heather Kashman scored goals 2:45 apart. The Black Bears called time out at 16:24 of the third period and netted an extra attacker goal at 17:37 to tie the score and send the game into overtime. UM goalie Meghann Treacy earned the First Star award with 50 saves, including four in OT. UNH's Vilma Vaattovaara stopped 17 shots.

Skating Strides Against Breast Cancer
    The Hockey East Skating Strides Against Breast Cancer program is in its eighth season. UNH is part of two Skating Strides events this season with Boston University holding the event Feb. 8 and then the Wildcats raise funds in the Feb. 9 home game vs. UConn.
    The Skating Strides program has raised nearly $230,000 for various breast cancer charities and given student-athletes the opportunity to give back to the communities in which they study and play hockey.

The State of New Hampshire
    New Hampshire enters the weekend with a 9-14-2 overall record that includes 5-6-1 at home, 4-8-1 on the road and 4-7-2 in Hockey East; those numbers include 3-3-1 in league home games and 1-4-1 in league road games.
    UNH has not won two games in a weekend since sweeping the two-game series at Penn State (Oct. 26-27).
    The Wildcats have lost six straight road games as part of an eight-game winless road stretch (0-7-1); the last road win was Oct. 27 at Penn State (3-1).
    Last Saturday's (Jan. 25) 5-3 loss at seventh-ranked Boston College marked the first time this season the Wildcats did not win when scoring three or more goals in a game (7-1-1 record).
    The four goals scored in the 4-1 win Jan. 10 vs. Providence marked the team's highest total since also scoring four goals against those same Friars on Nov. 7. In between, the 'Cats scored a total of 10 goals in eight games. The four goals is bested this season only by eight goals at Penn State (Oct. 26).
    In the national statistics, UNH is ranked No. 22 in offense (2.16 gpg) and No. 19 in defense (2.64 gpg). The Wildcats are slightly below the middle of the pack in power play (19th- .143) and near the top 10 in penalty kill (14th- .868).

'Cat Nips
    Freshman forward Cassandra Vilgrain and junior defenseman Jess Ryan share the team's longest active point-scoring streak of three games. Vilgrain, who scored a career-high two goals Jan. 25 at seventh-ranked Boston College, has four points (3g, 1a) and Ryan has tallied three points (1g, 2a) during this span, which began Jan. 19 vs. UConn.
    Junior forward Kayla Mork recorded a point in both of last weekend's games against seventh-ranked Boston College (Jan. 25-26). She tallied an assist in the first game at Conte Forum and scored a goal in the rematch at the Whittemore Center.
    Senior forward Jessica Hitchcock extended her point streak to six games with a goal Jan. 25 at seventh-ranked BC, but she was held off the scoresheet Jan. 26 by those Eagles. She tallied eight points (5g, 3a) in that six-game stretch.
    Senior forward and captain Nicole Gifford saw her five-game point streak ended by the BC Eagles last Saturday (Jan. 25). Gifford compiled a total of six points (2g, 4a) during the streak, which began Dec. 8 (vs. Dartmouth) with an assist in four consecutive games.
    Junior defenseman Caroline Broderick leads the team and is second in Hockey East in blocked shots with 51. Broderick blocked five shots in both of last weekend's games against seventh-ranked Boston College.

Conference Call
    In 13 Hockey East league games, Nicole Gifford (5g, 5a) and Cassandra Vilgrain (6g, 4a) lead the UNH Wildcats with 10 points apiece. Jessica Hitchcock (4g, 4a) is next with eight points. Vilma Vaattovaara has a 3-3-2 record, 2.22 GAA and .922 save percentage in eight Hockey East games.

It's a Paradox
    UNH has recorded a +46 shot advantage (246-200) in the first period but has been outscored 23-11. That shot total is just nine less than UNH's highest (2nd- 255) but is the lowest goal total in comparison to 21 in the second and 22 in the third.

What Just Happened
    UNH was swept by seventh-ranked Boston College in last weekend's home-and-home series; the Eagles prevailed 5-3 at Conte Forum (Sat., Jan. 25) and then skated to a 3-2 victory at the Whittemore Center (Jan. 26).
    In the series opener, BC struck three times in the latter half of the first period to build a 3-0 lead. The Wildcats netted the only second-period goal, but BC pulled away with tallies in the third and fourth minutes of the final frame. Cassandra Vilgrain scored goals nearly six minutes apart to pull the 'Cats within 5-3 with 6:07 remaining. UNH goalie Ashley Wilkes finished with 26 saves and BC counterpart Corinne Boyles stopped 29 shots. The Eagles had not allowed more than two goals in a game the previous 11 games.
    One day later, UNH struck first on a Kayla Mork goal 1:46 into the game. The Eagles tied the score three minutes later, but the Wildcats took a 2-1 lead into the locker room when Jess Ryan netted a power-play goal with 21 seconds on the clock. BC scored early in the second period and again with 1:56 remaining in regulation to rally for the win despite UNH's 33-23 shot advantage. Vilma Vaattovaara was credited with 20 saves; Boyles made 31 saves.

What Happens Next
    Following the weekend series at Maine, UNH travels to Boston U. (Feb. 8) and then plays host to the University of Connecticut on Feb. 9 to begin a three-game homestand.

Race to Three
    UNH has a 7-1-1 record when scoring three (or more) goals in a game – the only loss was last weekend (Jan. 25) at No. 7 Boston College, 5-3 – and is 1-11-1 when allowing three-plus goals. On the flip side, the Wildcats are 2-12-1 when scoring less than three goals and have an 8-3-1 mark when holding the opposition to two goals or less.

Captain of the 'Cats
    Senior forward Nicole Gifford is captain of the 2013-14 Wildcats. She has tallied a point in 14 of 25 games and had a five-game point streak spanning Dec. 8 to Jan. 19 with six points (2g, 4a).
    Gifford leads the team in goals (eight), power-play goals (three), assists (10) and points (18). She also ranks third in shots (85). In 13 Hockey East league games, Gifford has tallied 10 points (5g, 5a).
    In the faceoff circle, Gifford has taken 553 draws (she has won 279 of them; 50.5%) – the next highest overall total is 277 by Heather Kashman.
    In the January series vs. UConn, Gifford tallied an assist on the team's only goal at Freitas Ice Forum (Jan. 18) and then scored 14 seconds into the game to help the 'Cats record a 3-2 win at the Whittemore Center (Jan. 19).
    In the Jan. 10-11 series vs. Providence College, Gifford tallied three points with a goal and two assists; that included a goal and an assist in the 4-1 win at the Whitt on Jan. 10.
    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. Gifford netted a goal in back-to-back games vs. Providence (Nov. 7) and UVM (Nov. 10).
    Junior forward Hannah Armstrong and sophomore defenseman Alexis Crossley are the assistant captains.
    Armstrong ranks fourth in points (12), tied for fourth in goals (five) and tied for fifth in assists (seven); she has the team's only shorthanded goal of the season and is fourth in shots (68). She scored all five goals in a nine-game span (Nov. 7 to Dec. 8) with goals in consecutive games against Providence and UVM as well as Boston U. and Ohio State.
    Armstrong ended the 2013 calendar year with a goal vs. Dartmouth College (Dec. 8). She 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).
    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 missed nine consecutive games (Oct. 26 to Nov. 24) due to injury before returning to the lineup Nov. 30 against Ohio State; she has recorded one point (Jan. 18 goal at UConn) in 10 games since returning to the lineup.
    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 four points (3g, 1a) in 16 games.

Special Teams
    A pair of special teams streaks ended in the Jan. 25-26 series against seventh-ranked Boston College. UNH ended a stretch of nine consecutive games with nary a power-play goal when the 'Cats scored an extra skater goal in the first period of the Jan. 26 game; that Jess Ryan power-play goal ended an 0-for-36 stretch that dated back to the third period of the Nov. 24 game vs. Boston U.
    New Hampshire's streak of successful penalty kills also came to an end when BC netted a power-play goal in the third period of the Jan. 25 game at Conte Forum. The Wildcats' PK had been perfect the previous four games and a total of 16 consecutive shorthanded situations.
    New Hampshire entered Thanksgiving weekend ranked No. 6 nation in power play (20.3%). Since then, the Wildcats are 1-for-36 (2.8%) spanning 10 games.
    UNH scored on 5 of 8 power plays in the weekend series at Penn State as part of three consecutive games with multiple power-play tallies (2x5 at BC; 3x5 at PSU; 2x3 at PSU). The Wildcats have scored at least one power-play goal in 9 of 25 games and are 15-for-105 (.143) overall.
    The Wildcats are 14th in penalty kill at .868 (92-for-106). UNH's PK has not yielded a goal in 13 of 25 games and has allowed multiple power-play goals twice – two by St. Lawrence in the Sept. 27 season opener and two by Penn State on Oct. 26.
    Nicole Gifford leads all 'Cats with seven power-play points (3g, 4a). Sara Carlson (6a), Jess Ryan (3g, 2a) 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 13 of 25 games with a total of 16 points (7g, 9a) – with those stats, she is second in goals, assists and points. She leads the Wildcats in both plus/minus rating (+8) and shots (91).
     Hitchcock recorded a six-game point streak spanning Dec. 8 (vs. Dartmouth) to Jan. 25 (at Boston College) in which she tallied eight points (5g, 3a).
    She matched her career highs in both goals (two) and points (three) Jan. 10 in the 4-1 win vs. Providence at the Whittemore Center. Hitchcock finished that two-game series vs. PC with four points (3g, 1a) to garner the Warrior Player of the Week award from Hockey East.
    Hitchcock recorded one other multiple-point game this season with two assists Oct. 26 at Penn State.

First Blood
    UNH has scored the game's first goal nine times in 25 games and is 5-3-1 when taking a 1-0 lead; on the road, the Wildcats are 3-1-1 when scoring first. The Wildcats are 4-11-1 when falling behind 1-0 and that includes 1-7-0 on the road.
    The team that scored first was victorious in five of six January games.

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 have led at the first intermission just seven times in 25 games with a 3-3-1 record. UNH has trailed at the first intermission 13 times (3-9-1 record).
    At the second intermission, New Hampshire has led five times (3-0-2 record) and trailed 10 times (1-9-0); the game has been tied through 40 minutes 10 times (5-5-0 record).

Color Me Blue
    Senior Arielle O'Neill had never skated as a defenseman until taking the blue line Oct. 26 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 25 games this season (F-6, D-19), she has netted five goals to rank tied for fourth on the team – she scored four of those goals as a defenseman – and has two assists for a total of seven points. O'Neill was atop the leaderboard in shots a majority of the season, but slipped to second following last Sunday's game vs. BC; she has 91 shots overall.
    O'Neill was flipped forward to center during the Jan. 26 game against Boston College (because of an injury to Jonna Curtis).
    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 (Oct. 13) and has a .683 faceoff win percentage (86 of 126) 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. A stretch of 10 consecutive games without a point ended Jan. 26 with an assist vs. BC.

Against the Best
    UNH has a 1-5-0 record against nationally-ranked teams. In their 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. The 'Cats led 1-0 midway through the Nov. 16 game at No. 7 Quinnipiac, but the Bobcats netted a goal late in both the second and third periods to record a 2-1 victory.
    UNH and ninth-ranked BU were deadlocked 1-1 through two periods, but the visiting Terriers struck midway through the final frame to record a 2-1 victory (Nov. 24). Harvard skated to a 5-0 victory at Bright Hockey Center on Dec. 6. Most recently, the 'Cats were swept by No. 7 BC in a Jan. 25-26 home-and-home series.
    Last year, the Wildcats were 3-7-1 in 11 games against nationally-ranked opponents.

Forward Thinking
    Junior forward Kayla Mork ranks fourth on the team in assists (eight) and is fifth in points (11) – both those numbers are personal single-season highs. Mork tallied a point in two games last weekend vs. No. 7 BC with an assist Jan. 25 at Conte Forum and a goal Jan. 26 at Whittemore Center. She has skated in 24 of 25 games; she was not in the lineup Jan. 11 game at Providence.
    Mork 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. She closed the 2013 calendar year with an assist vs. Dartmouth College (Dec. 8).

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    2-0 loss
 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    2-0 loss
  Sun. Dec. 8    Dartmouth    2-1 win
  Fri. Jan. 10    Providence    4-1 win
  Sun. Jan. 19    UConn    3-2 win
  Sun. Feb. 9    UConn    1:45 pm
  Sat. Feb. 15    Vermont    1:45 pm
  Sun. Feb. 23    Northeastern    1:45 pm

The Puck Stops Here
    The Wildcats have three goaltenders on the 2013-14 roster with two returning netminders (both sophomores) and one freshman.
    Vilma Vaattovaara had a strong start to her sophomore 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.
    Vaattovaara returned to action Jan. 19 vs. UConn with a 24-save effort that backboned the Wildcats to a 3-2 victory; she was sidelined nine games by injury and had not seen game action since Nov. 15 at Princeton.
    Last Sunday versus seventh-ranked Boston College, Vaattovaara made 20 saves in a 3-2 loss at the Whittemore Center.
    In 12 games overall (all starts), Vaattovaara is 6-4-2 with a 2.40 GAA and .916 save percentage. In eight Hockey East games, she is 3-3-2 with a 2.22 GAA and .922 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.
    Ashley Wilkes started nine consecutive games spanning Nov. 16 (at Quinnipiac) through Jan. 18 (at UConn). She recorded a personal-best 27 saves in back-to-back games vs. BU (Nov. 24) and Quinnipiac (Nov. 16) – both were 2-1 losses for the 'Cats.
    Wilkes also finished with 27 saves, including a single-period high of 13 in the third period, Jan. 18 at UConn (3-2 loss). Also of note, she recorded 26 saves Jan. 25 at Boston College (5-3 loss) and she stopped 22 of 23 shots in UNH's 4-1 win against Providence College on Jan. 10.
    In 11 games (all starts), Wilkes is 3-8-0 with a 2.67 GAA and .899 save percentage.
    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.
    Marie-Eve Jean is 0-2-0 with a 3.50 GAA and .852 save percentage in three games (two starts) this season. She made a season-high 27 saves in the Sept. 27 season opener at SLU (4-2 loss). Jean entered the Jan. 11 game at Providence at the start of the third period and stopped three of the four shots she faced; that appearance ended a stretch of 17 consecutive games in which she did not play (dating back to Oct. 4 vs. RIT).

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. Crossley missed nine consecutive games before returning to the ice Nov. 30, while Haslett has been sidelined since the third game of the season.
    Ryan, who didn't record a point as a freshman and tallied three points last year, already has 10 points (4g, 6a) in 25 games this season to lead UNH defensemen in points. She has tallied a point each of the last three games (1g, 2a) and recorded an assist three consecutive games vs. Quinnipiac (Nov. 16), BU (Nov. 24) and Ohio State (Nov. 30). She leads all defensemen and is third overall in plus/minus at +1.
    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.
    Broderick has contributed eight points (2g, 6a)  –she has four assists the past eight games – and leads the team in blocked shots with 51. 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). Broderick recorded an assist Dec. 8 vs. Dartmouth and set up a goal in UNH's 4-1 win vs. Providence College on Jan. 10.
    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.

One For Me, One For You
    A handful of Wildcats have almost even career totals in goals and assists. In 124 career games, Jessica Hitchcock has tallied 34 goals and 35 assists. The career breakdown for Hannah Armstrong is almost even at 20 goals and 22 assists. Arielle O'Neill (27g, 25a) isn't far off from an even split. Freshman Cassandra Vilgrain has been equal finisher and distributor with seven goals and seven assists.

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, is tied for second this season in assists with nine. She also has one goal for a total of 10 points, which is tied for sixth on the team. Carlson has one assist each of the last three weekends, including a tally on the game-winning goal vs. UConn on Jan. 19.
    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.

Working Overtime
    Including this season's pair of OT games (Oct. 13 vs. Maine; Nov. 10 at Vermont), 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.

Scouting the Black Bears
    The University of Maine enters the weekend with a 3-16-5 overall record that includes 2-5-3 at home and 1-10-3 in Hockey East – 1-3-2 in league home games. Last weekend at Northeastern University, the Black Bears were defeated 4-3 in overtime and 8-2. In their most recent home game (Sunday, Jan. 19), the Black Bears defeated Providence College, 1-0.
    Maine went 1-3-0 in January following a 2-1-1 stretch in December.
    In the national rankings, Maine is No. 29 in offense (1.75 gpg) and last (34th) in defense (3.71 gpg) as well as 30th in power play (.100) and 32nd in penalty kill (.757).
    Maine's offense has been evenly distributed between the first, second and third periods with 13, 14 and 15 goals, respectively. Seventeen skaters have scored a goal this season, but only Audra Richards (nine) and Brianne Kilgour (six) have more than three. Kilgour leads the Black Bears in points with 12 and Richards is next at 11. Kelly McDonald (3g, 7a) is the other skater who has reached double digits in points.
    Meghann Treacy has played in 19 of 24 games with 18 starts; she is 1-14-4 with a 3.57 GAA and .896 save percentage, as well as one shutout.
    The first period has been the strongest for Maine, which has surrendered only 17 first-period goals in 24 games. In comparison, opponents have scored 34 in the second period and 37 in the third.
    The Black Bears are 0-1-5 in games decided by overtime.

View: Mobile | Desktop