DURHAM, N.H. – Cassandra Vilgrain (Calgary, Alberta) gave the University of New Hampshire women's ice hockey team a 1-0 lead in the first period, but the University of Connecticut rallied for a 3-1 victory in Sunday afternoon's Hockey East action at the Whittemore Center.
UNH, which recorded a 39-23 shot advantage, is now 9-18-2 overall and 4-11-2 in Hockey East. The 39 shots marked the second-highest total of the season for UNH, which recorded 38 shots in Saturday's 7-4 loss at Boston University. UConn, which won the rubber match to capture the season series at 2-1-0, improved to 9-19-2, 6-10-1.
Vilgrain extended her point streak to three games with her ninth goal of the season; that total is tied for the team lead and the rookie now has as point in 6 of 7. UNH goaltender Ashley Wilkes (North Pole, Alaska) made 20 saves.
UConn netminder Elaine Chuli, who recorded 45 saves Saturday to shut out Boston College, made double-digit saves all three periods (16-12-10) to finish with 38. Michela Cava (one goal, one assist) and Rachel Farrel (two assists) led the offense.
Farrel generated the first dangerous scoring opportunity at 9:30 of the first period when she stole the puck in the high slot for a breakaway. She advanced to the low slot before firing a shot that Wilkes kicked aside with her right leg pad.
The Wildcats took a 1-0 lead at 11:21 of the opening stanza. The initial shot from the slot by Jess Ryan (Cloquet, Minn.) was stopped by Chuli, but Vilgrain swept into the slot and tucked the puck inside the right post. Heather Kashman (Edmonton, Alberta) was also credited with an assist.
One minute later, Nicole Gifford (Ennismore, Ontario) snapped a one-timer from the inner-left circle that Chuli blocked aside.
The 'Cats took that one-goal advantage and 17-6 edge in shots into the first intermission.
UNH went on a power play at 1:13 of the second stanza and, in the waning moments of the skater advantage, Ryan's blast from the high slot was redirected by Hannah Armstrong (Keswick, Ontario) but steered away by Chuli.
UConn leveled the score, 1-1, at 4:31. Kayla Campero's outlet pass from the defensive zone was corralled by Emily Snodgrass on the left wing. Snodgrass carried the puck into the circle and her shot was cleared by Wilkes' right leg pad. The rebound was directed to the low slot and Brittany Berisoff chipped the puck high into the net.
In the eighth minute, Vilgrain gained possession behind the net and her attempted wraparound at the right post was stopped by Chuli, who also knocked down the rebound. The persistent Vilgrain poke a third shot past Chuli, but the puck caromed off the left post.
The Huskies went on their third power play of the game at 18:38 and scored a goal against UNH's penalty kill, which entered the game ranked eighth in the nation, to take a 2-1 lead at 19:23. Sarah MacDonnell initiated the scoring sequence with a pass from the high slot to Cava on the left wing. MacDonnell received a return pass and slipped a pass to the right circle, where Farrel sent the puck across the low slot to the left boards. MacDonnell regained possession at the point, skated behind Cava and sent a screened shot from the left circle that sailed into the cage.
UConn extended the advantage to 3-1 at 7:39 of the third period when Kiana Nauheim's slap shot from the left point was tipped in front by Cava. Farrel, who won the faceoff back to Nauheim, was also credited with an assist.
UNH called time out at 18:42 with a faceoff just outside the offensive zone and pulled Wilkes in favor of an extra skater. The Huskies gained possession, however, and Farrel's shot from the left point trickled wide of the near post. Chuli denied Megan Armstrong (Edina, Minn.) in the closing seconds to secure the win.
New Hampshire returns to action Feb. 15-16 for a two-game series at the Whittemore Center against the University of Vermont. Both games begin at 2 p.m. and tickets are available at the box office or by calling (603) 862-4000.