DURHAM, N.H. – The fourth-ranked University of New Hampshire women’s ice hockey team recorded a 54-17 shot advantage and held a pair of one-goal leads, but skated to a 2-2 draw with 10th-ranked University of Connecticut on Sunday afternoon before 1,209 fans for UNH’s Senior Day at the Whittemore Center. UNH, which had already secured its fourth consecutive regular-season title, extended its overall unbeaten streak to eight games (6-0-2) and Hockey East unbeaten mark to 14 games (12-0-2). The Wildcats are now 23-3-5 overall and 15-1-2 in league play. UConn, which secured a league tourney berth with the combination of the tie and Boston University’s 3-2 loss at Maine, is now 17-12-3, 12-5-2.
After a scoreless first period, the Wildcats took a 1-0 lead at 8:18 of the middle stanza when Lindsey Caleo (Clinton Township, Mich.) scored on a wraparound shot at the right post. Shannon Clement (Sault Ste Marie, Ontario) was credited with an assist.
The Huskies responded just 21 seconds later, however, to tie the score 1-1. Michelle Binning, with the assistance of Natalie Vibert and Cristin Allen, scored off a rebound in front. UNH went back in front, 2-1, at 17:55 on a goal by Kelly Paton (Woodstock, Ontario) in the low slot. Jennifer Hitchcock (LaSalle, Ontario) and Sam Faber (Mt. Sinai, N.Y.) set up the tally. The ‘Cats led by that one goal margin after generating a 22-4 shot advantage in the second period.
The Wildcats cycled the puck to control possession early in the third period, but UConn was opportunistic on its second power-play opportunity of the game to tie the score at 13:05. Jaclyn Hawkins’ initial shot was turned aside by UNH goalie Melissa Bourdon (Ile Bizard, Quebec), but an unmarked Vibert scored off the rebound from the slot. UNH regained momentum and nearly regained the lead when a shot from the slot by Micaela Long (South Boston, Mass.) caromed off the right post. The ‘Cats closed with a flurry in the offensive zone in the final two minutes but could not break the deadlock. UConn goaltender Brittany Wilson, who turned aside 20 shots in the final frame, recorded three saves in the five-minute overtime session to preserve the tie. Bourdon recorded seven of her 15 saves in the first period; she stopped two shots in OT. UNH is now unbeaten in seven overtime games this season at 2-0-5 and in eight straight OT games overall (2-0-6). The ‘Cats are also within one of tying the program’s single-season records for both overtime games played and ties. The 1,209 fans marked the second time this season that UNH topped 1,000 as well as the highest attendance at the Whittemore Center for a women’s hockey game since Jan. 11, 2003, when 1,498 fans watched UNH defeat Northeastern University.
New Hampshire returns to action Feb. 21 (7 p.m.) at Boston University and concludes the regular season next weekend at the University of Vermont (Feb. 24-25).
UNH is host of the 2007 Women’s Hockey East Championships on March 3-4. Saturday’s semifinal games are 12 and 3 pm and the championship game is Sunday as 12:30 p.m. Tickets are available now at the Whittemore Center box office, by calling 1-866-WILDCAT or going online at www.unhwildcats.com.