DURHAM, N.H. - Danielle Ward recorded two goals and an assist to propel the University of Maine women's ice hockey team to Saturday afternoon's 3-2 comeback victory against the University of New Hampshire at the Whittemore Center.
UNH, which entered the game with back-to-back wins against nationally-ranked teams, is now 11-13-0 overall, 4-10-0 Hockey East. Maine, which also defeated the Wildcats back in November, ended a five-game losing streak and claimed sole possession of sixth place in the league standings by improving to 10-13-4, 4-9-2.
New Hampshire took a 1-0 lead into the first intermission on a power-play goal by Courtney Birchard (Mississauga, Ontario) at 15:54. Courtney Sheary (Melrose, Mass.) settled a pass from Arielle O'Neill (St. Catharines, Ontario) at the right point and centered the puck to the high slot, where Birchard's low shot through traffic found the back of the net.
The 'Cats extended the advantage to 2-0 at 8:41 of the second stanza with its second power-play goal of the game. Raylen Dziengelewski (Southwick, Mass.) initiated the scoring sequence with a pass from the left point to Maggie Hunt (Naperville, Ill.) and her slap shot ricocheted off the stick of Hannah Armstrong (Aurora, Ontario) into the cage.
Maine responded with power-play goals 21 seconds apart - both by Ward - to tie the score, 2-2. Ward pulled the visitors within one goal at 14:55 when she scored off a rebound in the low slot. Chloe Tinkler, with the initial shot from the slot, was credited with an assist. Ward, positioned off the left post, redirected Dawn Sullivan's shot from the right circle into the open near side of the net to level the score.
UNH began the third period with 1:41 remaining on its fourth power-play opportunity of the game. O'Neill corralled a pass low on the right side and maneuvered to the top of the crease, where her backhanded attempt was stopped by Maine goaltender Brittany Ott (21 saves).
With 8:15 remaining in regulation, Ott made another big save when she denied Birchard, who had swept unseen from the backside to the low slot and snapped a quick wrist shot on goal.
Back-to-back icings against UNH forced the Wildcats to call time out at 17:12, but Maine controlled the ensuing face off and took its first lead of the game, 3-2, just 12 seconds later. Missy Denk's initial shot from the left circle was stopped by UNH goalie Lindsey Minton (Richardson, Texas) but Myriam Croussette, who was denied by the right post three minutes into the game, gathered the rebound deep on the right side and deposited a shot inside the right post at 17:24. Ward was also credited with an assist.
The 'Cats pulled Minton in favor of an extra skater with 79 seconds on the clock but Ott stopped both shots in the closing minute to preserve the lead.
New Hampshire and Maine conclude the two-game weekend series Jan. 30 (2 p.m.) at the Whittemore Center. The game is part of Hockey East's 5th Annual Skating Strides Against Breast Cancer fundraising initiative.