DURHAM, N.H. - Courtney Birchard (Mississauga, Ontario) and Angela Taylor (Paisley, Scotland) each scored a goal and Kayley Herman (Weyburn, Saskatchewan) stopped all 12 shots she faced to lead the fifth-ranked University of New Hampshire women's ice hockey team to Wednesday night's 2-0 victory against Northestern University in Hockey East action at the Whittemore Center.
UNH, with its 22nd consecutive win in the series against NU (71-28-7 all-time record), improved to 8-3-3 overall and 4-1-2 in Hockey East. Northeastern lost its third consecutive game to fall to 6-4-2, 3-2-0.
It was Herman's first shutout of the season and 10th of her career. NU goaltender Florence Schelling made 34 saves, including 18 in the second period. She held the Wildcats scoreless on six power-play opportunities despite facing 16 shots.
The tandem of Micaela Long (South Boston, Mass.) and Birchard combined to produce UNH's sixth shorthanded goal of the season and give the 'Cats a 1-0 lead at 11:47 of the second period. Long intercepted a pass along the left boards in the neutral zone and made a tape-to-tape pass that sprung Birchard behind the defense for a breakaway. Birchard skated down the slot and, from the top of the crease, pulled the puck back to lift a shot under the crossbar.
UNH gained a 5x3 power play for 1:35 with 91 seconds remaining in the middle stanza. The 'Cats peppered Schelling with seven shots in those 91 seconds but they did not extend the one-goal advantage.
In the opening minute of the third period - shortly after the successful kills - NU nearly capitalized on a UNH turnover. Kristi Kehoe gained possession in the low slot but fired a wrist shot high of the cage.
The Huskies had a 5-on-3 advantage for 27 seconds at 5:48 of the third period, but New Hampshire's penalty kill did not allow a shot. Moments later, NU had a 5x3 power play for a span of 86 seconds. The visitors generated half of its eight third-period shots in that span, and Herman was sharp to stop Alyssa Wohlfeiler's screened shot from the high slot and then deny Kehoe off the rebound at the right doorstep.
Taylor, UNH's assist leader, potted her second goal of the season to give UNH a 2-0 lead at 17:48. Jenn Wakefield (Pickering, Ontario) won the puck in the left corner for Taylor, who maneuvered from deep in the left circle towards the goal and lifted a shot into the net.
NU called time out with 1:28 to play, but was unable to advance the puck into the offensive zone the rest of the way.
The Wildcats created a number of dangerous scoring opportunities in the opening minutes of the game. First, a shot by Birchard from the left circle was redirected into the net, but it was waved off by virtue of a high stick. In the fifth minute, Schelling denied two shots by Sam Faber (Mt. Sinai, N.Y.) in a 2-on-2 rush, then less than a minute later she again turned aside Faber from close range.
Kehoe nearly gave NU the lead in the 14th minute when she executed a toe-drag to break free to the low slot, but she was stopped by Herman. The puck caromed off Kehoe wide of the left post.
UNH's power play generated a couple of dangerous chances early in the second period. Wakefield, positioned in the slot, redirected a shot towards the upper-right corner of the net that Schelling snared with her glove. Schelling then made a strong save when Birchard's shot from the high slot caromed off a defenseman, and Schelling also stopped Long's bid off the rebound.
Northeastern went on the power play midway through the stanza. UNH generated a 3-on-1 shorthanded rush in which Taylor blasted a shot from the inner-left circle that Schelling turned aside with her blocker. Less than a minute later, however, Birchard struck to give the 'Cats the 1-0 lead.
New Hampshire returns to action Nov. 29 (2 p.m.) at Colgate University. The Wildcats' next home game is Dec. 5 (7 p.m.) against ninth-ranked Harvard University. Visit www.unhwildcats.com for information on tickets and Operation Hat Trick, a UNH athletics endeavor that will be featured in the game vs. the Crimson.