DURHAM, N.H. – The fourth-ranked University of New Hampshire women’s ice hockey team was defeated by fifth-ranked St. Lawrence University, 6-2, at the Whittemore Center on Saturday afternoon in a regional game of the 2007 NCAA Women’s Ice Hockey Championship.
The Saints advance to their fourth consecutive Frozen Four with the win and improve their record on the season to 29-7-3. UNH finishes its season at 28-4-5 with its second straight NCAA tournament appearance.
“UNH had a great season and it’s tough we give them a lot of credit,” St. Lawrence head coach Paul Flanagan said. “Great game for my kids today, I think from start to finish, I could see the determination and it helped that we that we got on the board first and our kids really rallied around that, it was real important. We could feel it on our bench and I think our kids settled down, that was big, getting a good start. I am sure New Hampshire is frustrated, but I think it was our kids efforts defensively, did a great job adapting to the neutral zone and they rallied around each other extremely well.”
St. Lawrence got on the scoreboard first with a power-play goal at 7:46 of the first period by Marianna Locke. Less than 30 seconds later, the Wildcats evened the scored, 1-1, with a goal from sophomore forward Sam Faber (Mt. Sinai, N.Y.) at 8:14. Faber was assisted by Micaela Long (South Boston, Mass.) and Kelly Paton (Woodstock, Ontario).
Annie Guay notched a goal to put St. Lawrence back on top, 2-1, at 13:14 of the first period. Lisa Batchelor passed the puck to Guay, who was positioned above the left circle. Guay fired a slapshot that beat UNH goaltender Melissa Bourdon (Ile Bizard, Quebec; 15 saves). The Saints extended their lead to two goals, 3-1, on a breakaway goal by Chelsea Grills with just four seconds remaining in the opening frame. That marked SLU’s 13th period this season with three or more goals.
The ‘Cats got their chance with 11:40 to play in the middle frame when Long received a pass charging down the slot, but the puck hit the left shoulder of SLU goalie Meaghan Guckian (26 saves). The Saints took a 4-1 lead at 8:55 of the second on a goal by Carson Duggan that was set up by Sabrina Harbec and Chelsea Grills.
The Wildcats decreased the deficit to two goals, 4-2, with a goal from Faber, her second of the game at 13:41 of the second period. Faber got the puck from Paton in the right circle and lifted the puck top-shelf past Guckian. Steph Holmes (Rye, N.Y.) also earned an assist on the Wildcats’ second goal.
With 4:56 remaining in the second period, the Saints went on the power play and it led to Duggan’s second goal of the period with 3:12 left to play in the second. In the game, the Saints went 2-for-3 on the power-play.
With 11 minutes left to play, the Saints added another goal to put the game out of reach for the Wildcats. The goal scored by Harbec made it a 6-2 final. The assists on the goal went to Grills, her third of the game, and Duggan of the Saints’ first line. The first line trio totaled four of the Saints’ six goals in the game.
“A lot of good, I have had a great four years here, you never want or expect it to end,” senior captain Nicole Hekle stated. “When it does it just hits you in the face, I have taken a lot of great friendships and respect for the game. We did everything as a team, we won as a team and we lost as a team. We are going to walk out of here with our heads raised high and be proud of what we have done.”
“It’s a very disappointing loss, but we certainly didn’t put our best foot forward today,” UNH head coach Brian McCloskey said. “On the other side, I think St. Lawrence played a really smart game and executed exceptionally well and we didn’t. They beat us in special teams, they were very patient and we couldn’t settle down. St. Lawrence has some very clever forwards.”
St. Lawrence will play the winner of the No. 1 seed University of Wisconsin vs. No. 8 seed Harvard University matchup in a March 16 (5 p.m.) Frozen Four semifinal at the Olympic Center in Lake Placid, N.Y.
“It was always in the back of my mind today, but I think we just stayed as a team and came out the full 60 minutes and never gave up,” Grills said about playing at home for the Frozen Four. “We wanted to be there and we are really excited about it and it should be a fun experience for us.”