DURHAM, N.H. - Nicole Gifford (Ennismore, Ontario) scored her second goal in as many days, but the University of New Hampshire women's ice hockey team was defeated 5-1 by the University of Vermont in Sunday afternoon's Hockey East action at the Whittemore Center.
UNH, which recorded a 39-23 shot advantage to match its third-highest shot total of the season, is now 9-20-2 overall and 4-13-2 in Hockey East. UVM completed the weekend sweep of the Battle of the 'Cats to improve to 15-13-4, 11-7-1.
Gifford potted her team-leading 11th goal of the season to give the Wildcats a 1-0 lead at 9:28 of the first period. Marie-Eve Jean (Gatineau, Quebec), in just her third start of the season and first since Oct. 4, made 18 saves in goal.
Brittany Zuback (one goal, two assists) and Amanda Pelkey (1g, 1a) led UVM's offense while Roxanne Douville recorded double-digit saves all three periods (12-14-12) to finish with 38.
Gifford netted her power-play goal when her shot from the left point ricocheted off a UVM skater into the cage. Arielle O'Neill (St. Catharines, Ontario) initiated the scoring sequence with a pass to Gifford, who then moved the puck to and received a return pass from Alexis Crossley (Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia).
UVM, which trailed by scores of 3-0 and 2-0 in the previous two meetings this season (but rallied to tie and win, respectively), leveled the score 1-1 just 93 seconds later on Pelkey's goal. Zuback and Sarah Campbell were credited with assists.
The Catamounts went on their first power play at 18:04 of the first period and scored with six seconds remaining in the opening stanza to take a 2-1 lead into the locker room. From a scrum at the top of the crease, Zuback pushed the puck toward the left post, where Victoria Andreakos swept a shot into the open near side of the net. Pelkey also set up the tally.
The teams skated to a scoreless second stanza in which UNH recorded a 14-6 shot advantage to increase the overall edge to 27-15. The best of New Hampshire's quality scoring chances in the period came with just under two minutes on the clock, when a flurry of shots included a Hannah Armstrong (Keswick, Ontario) bid from the right doorstep that was stopped by Douville and then Armstrong poked the rebound past the netminder, but it glided across the crease and caromed off the left post.
In the fifth minute of the third period, Douville once again preserved the visitor's 2-1 lead when she stopped O'Neill's shot from the slot and stoned Cassandra Vilgrain (Calgary, Alberta) off the rebound at the left post.
UVM scored goals 56 seconds apart to quickly build a 4-1 lead. Greer Vogl's shot from the left point deflected off a UNH skater in front of the net and into the net to extend the advantage to 3-1 at 11:08. Sarah Kelly began the sequence with a pass from behind the net along the left boards. Sarah Kelly won the battle for possession on the half-boards and tapped the puck to Vogl.
Zuback netted an unassisted goal at 12:04 when she stole the puck on the left half-boards and skated to the slot before firing a shot past Jean. Dayna Colang capped the scoring with an unassisted shorthanded goal at 18:02. She also won the puck on the left half-boards, advanced toward the near post and then dangled to the low slot for the goal.
UNH recorded a 12-8 shot advantage in the final frame, but was outscored 3-0. The Wildcats finished 1-for-6 on the power play with 12 shots while UVM was 1 of 3 on five shots.
New Hampshire concludes the regular season next weekend with a home-and-home series against Northeastern University. The teams face off Feb. 22 at NU's Matthews Arena and UNH's Senior Day is Feb. 23 at the Whitt. Start time for both games is 2 p.m.