GAME NOTES: Women's Hockey Faces UConn In Home-And-Home Series (Jan. 18-19); Free Ski Passes For First 100 Fans (Jan. 19)


The Matchup
    The University of New Hampshire women's ice hockey team plays a home-and-home series this weekend against Hockey East rival University of Connecticut. UConn's Freitas Ice Forum is the site of the Jan. 18 game, then the teams face off at UNH's Whittemore Center on Jan. 19. Both games begin at 2 p.m. and Sunday's game will be broadcast on the Wildcat Sports Radio Network.
    UNH has a 36-6-4 lifetime record against UConn. Last season, the Wildcats swept the three-game series by an aggregate score of 9-1 that included two shutout victories. Entering the weekend, New Hampshire has blanked the Huskies for a total of 122 minutes, 39 seconds.
    Prior to the 2012-13 season, UConn had won three of the previous five meetings and captured the 2010-11 season series; the Huskies' most recent win was Feb. 5, 2012 (6-3 at Freitas Ice Forum).
    UNH has a 16-3-2 road record and that includes 3-1 and 2-0 victories last January.

Hitchcock Named Warrior Player of the Week
    Senior forward Jessica Hitchcock was named Warrior Player of the Week by Hockey East on Monday, Jan. 13. Hitchcock factored in four of the team's five goals  with three goals and an assist in the two-game series against Providence College. She matched her career highs in both goals (two) and points (three) in UNH's 4-1 win on Jan. 10; she broke a 1-1 tie at 2:50 of the third period and struck again with 32 seconds remaining to secure the victory.

Ski for Free
    The first 100 fans in attendance at Sunday's game vs. UConn will receive a free ski pass to Shawnee Peak Ski Resort.

Skate With The 'Cats
    The UNH men's and women's ice hockey teams will hold the annual Skate with the 'Cats on Monday, Jan. 20 at the Whittemore Center. Registration begins at 9 a.m. and the event is from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. Admission is free for Kids' Club Members. All kids attending receive a voucher for one free ticket to any UNH athletic event.

The State of New Hampshire
    New Hampshire enters the weekend with an 8-11-2 overall record that includes 4-5-1 at home, 4-6-1 on the road and 3-4-2 in Hockey East; those numbers include 2-2-1 in league home games and 1-2-1 in league road games.
    The Wildcats are in the midst of 14 consecutive Hockey East league games; the stretch began last week against Providence. Of the remaining 12 games on the schedule, there is an even split of six home and six road games.
    New Hampshire is ranked third in Hockey East in scoring defense at 2.52 goals allowed per game.
    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 (2.14 gpg) and No. 16 in defense (2.52 gpg). The Wildcats are in the middle of the pack in both power play (19th- .147) and penalty kill (16th- .859).
    New Hampshire entered Thanksgiving weekend ranked No. 6 in the nation in power play (20.3%). Since then, the Wildcats are 0-for-26 spanning six games. And in the last nine games, the 'Cats are 1-for-37 (2.7%) on the power play.
    The Wildcats had a five-game unbeaten streak (4-0-1) spanning Oct. 4-27. They went 1-6-1 in November and 1-2-0 in December.

'Cat Nips
    Senior forward and captain Nicole Gifford has recorded an assist each of the last three games and has a total of four points (1g, 3a) in that span.
    Senior forward Jessica Hitchcock has tallied a point in three consecutive games with a total of five points (4g, 1a) in that stretch.
    Freshman goaltender Ashley Wilkes stopped 22 of 23 shots in UNH's 4-1 win against Providence College last Friday (Jan. 10).
    Sophomore goalie Marie-Eve Jean played the third period at Providence on Jan. 11. She made three saves and allowed one goal in her first appearance since Oct. 4.
    Junior forward and assistant captain Hannah Armstrong has scored all five of her goals the past 11 games.
    Junior defenseman Caroline Broderick leads the team and is second in Hockey East in blocked shots with 39.
    Junior forward Brenna Boulanger joined the team as a walk-on in mid-December and made her collegiate debut Jan. 11 at Providence.

It's a Paradox
    UNH has recorded a 206-169 shot advantage in the first period – UNH's highest and opponent's lowest period totals – but has been outscored 18-8, which is the opponent's high and Wildcats' low period totals.

Sister Act
    UNH sophomore goaltender Vilma Vaattovaara and UConn freshman  forward/defenseman Viivi Vaattovaara are sisters who will be on opposite benches this weekend.

What Just Happened
    UNH and Providence split a home-and-home series last weekend with both teams recording a 4-1 victory on home ice. The Wildcats prevailed  Jan. 10 behind the offense of Jessica Hitchcock (2g, 1a) and Nicole Gifford (1g, 1a), and Ashley Wilkes' 22-save effort. In that game, the teams skated to a scoreless first period and 1-1 tie through 40 minutes; UNH potted goals at 2:50, 13:02 and 19:28 of the final frame.
    One day later at Schneider Arena, the Friars scored 28 seconds into the game and struck 3:14 apart in the latter half of the second period to extend the advantage to 3-0; PC pushed the lead to four goals 34 seconds into the third period. The Friars recorded a 25-16 shot advantage.

What Happens Next
    Following the weekend series against UConn, the Wildcats play a home-and-home series against seventh-ranked Boston College. The teams face off at BC's Conte Forum, where UNH was a 3-1 victor Oct. 16, on Saturday, Jan. 25 and conclude the season series Jan. 26 at UNH's Whittemore Center. Both games begin at 2 p.m.

Race to Three
    UNH has a 6-0-1 record when scoring three (or more) goals in a game and is 1-7-1 when allowing three-plus goals. On the flip side, the Wildcats are 2-10-1 when scoring less than three goals and have a 7-3-1 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 carries a three-game point streak (1g, 3a) into the weekend and has tallied a point in 12 of 21 games. Gifford leads the team in goals (seven), power-play goals (three), assists (nine) and points (16). She also ranks second in shots (68).
    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).
    In the faceoff circle, Gifford has taken 464 draws (she has won 238 of them; 51.3%) – the next highest overall total is 219 by Heather Kashman.
    Junior forward Hannah Armstrong and sophomore defenseman Alexis Crossley are the assistant captains.
    Armstrong ranks third in points (11), tied for third in goals (five) and tied for fifth in assists (five); she has the team's only shorthanded goal of the season and ranks fourth in shots (59). 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 not recorded a point in six 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 three points (2g, 1a) in 12 games.

Special Teams
    New Hampshire entered Thanksgiving weekend ranked No. 6 in the nation in power play (20.3%). Since then, the Wildcats are 0-for-26 spanning six games to drop to No. 19 (.147 overall). And in the last nine games (dating back to Nov. 15), the 'Cats are 1-for-37 (2.7%) on the power play.
    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 8 of 21 games.
    The Wildcats are 16th in penalty kill – 34 teams are ranked – at .859 (79-for-92). UNH's PK was perfect (3-for-3) last weekend vs. Providence. The penalty kill has not yielded a goal in 10 of 21 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 (5a), Cassandra Vilgrain (2g, 2a) and Jess Ryan (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 10 of 21 games with a total of 13 points (6g, 7a) – with those stats, she is second in both goals and points as well as tied for second in assists. She leads the Wildcats in plus/minus rating (+6) and is third in shots (65).
     Hitchcock carries a three-game goal-scoring streak into the weekend series vs. UConn. 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 Warrior Player of the Week from Hockey East.

First Blood
    UNH has scored the game's first goal seven times in 21 games and is 4-2-1 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 4-9-1 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 have led at the first intermission just five times in 21 games with a 2-2-1 record. UNH has trailed at the first intermission 11 times (3-7-1 record).
    At the second intermission, New Hampshire has led four times (2-0-2 record) and trailed eight times (1-7-0); the game has been tied through 40 minutes nine times (5-4-0 record).

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 21 games this season (F-6, D-15), she has netted five goals to rank tied for third on the team; her goal at Quinnipiac (Nov. 16) gave the 'Cats a 1-0 first period lead. O'Neill is atop the leaderboard in shots with 77.
    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 .683 faceoff win percentage (82 of 120) 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.

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 seven. She also has one goal for a total of eight points, which is sixth on the team. Carlson ended a seven-game pointless streak with an assist Jan. 10 vs. Providence.
    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.

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    1:45 pm
  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 (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. She has not seen game action since Nov. 15 at Princeton (3-1 loss; 17 saves).
    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 has been the starter each of the last eight games (the streak began Nov. 16 at Quinnipiac). 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. In nine games (all starts), she is 3-6-0 with a 2.35 GAA and .908 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.
    Broderick has also contributed six points (2g, 4a) and leads the team in blocked shots with 39. 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.
    Ryan, who didn't record a point as a freshman and tallied three points last year, already has seven points (3g, 4a) in 21 games this season, and she recorded an assist three consecutive games vs. Quinnipiac (Nov. 16), BU (Nov. 24) and Ohio State (Nov. 30). She leads all defensemen and is tied for second overall in plus/minus at +3.
    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.
    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
    In 120 career games, Jessica Hitchcock has the same number of goals and assists – 33. The career breakdown for Hannah Armstrong is almost even at 20 goals and 21 assists. Arielle O'Neill (27g, 24a) isn't far off from a 50-50 split.

Kashing In
    Heather Kashman 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 scored three goals and also has three assists for a total of six points. 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 99 of 219 draws (.452). She has taken the second most faceoffs on the team (behind Nicole Gifford's 464).

She's Positive
    Junior forward Kayla Mork is tied for second on the team in plus/minus rating at +3; she is tied for second in assists (seven) and is fifth in points (nine) – both those numbers are personal single-season highs.
    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) and missed last Saturday's game at Providence.

UNH Records 700th Win
    UNH, now in its 37th year at the varsity level, is the winningest women's college hockey program in the United States with an overall record of 733-241-75 for a .735 winning percentage. The Wildcats attained the most recent century milestone Feb. 3, 2011 with a 4-2 road victory against third-ranked Boston University.

200 Wins at The Whitt
    New Hampshire recorded its 200th victory at the Whittemore Center with a 4-2 victory Jan. 30, 2011 against Maine. UNH has an overall record of 209-60-28 (.751 win percentage) at The Whitt since the venue opened in Fall 1995.

Scouting the Huskies
    The University of Connecticut, under the direction of first-year head coach Chris McKenzie, enters the week with a 5-14-2 overall record that includes 2-5-1 in Hockey East, 4-5-0 at home and 1-7-2 on the road. UConn plays host to Northeastern University on Wednesday before facing off against UNH this weekend.
    Last weekend at Vermont, UConn lost 3-0 on Friday to see its losing streak pushed to eight games but then responded with a 2-0 victory Saturday to end a nine-game winless streak (0-8-1). Five of the eight losses were by one goal, and that included two in overtime.
    Sarah MacDonnell and Michela Cava have both recorded six goals and 11 assists for 17 points. Kayla Campero leads the team in goals (seven) and is third in points (13). Emily Snodgrass is the other skater who has recorded double-digit points with 10 (4g, 6a).
    Elaine Chuli (12 games) and Sarah Moses (10 games) have split the goaltending duties. Chuli is 3-8-1 with a 3.04 GAA, .915 save percentage  and one shutout while Moses has a 2-6-1 record, 3.49 GAA and .906 save percentage.
    Chuli has started each of the last four games with 30+ saves every game; she made 32 saves to shut out UVM and stopped 30 shots in the loss one day earlier to the Catamounts; Chuli made 31 saves in a 2-1 loss to Harvard and 33 in the 1-0 overtime loss at Princeton.
    Moses' most recent action was Jan. 2 at Princeton and she made 30 saves in a 4-1 loss.
    In the national statistics, UConn is ranked No. 25 in offense (1.95 gpg), No. 30 in defense (3.33), 21st in power play (.143) and 15th in penalty kill (.862).

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