DURHAM - Redshirt junior Ava Boutilier (Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island) stopped all 31 shots as No. 8 seed University of New Hampshire defeated No. 9 seed College of the Holy Cross, 3-0, in Thursday night's opening round of the 2021 Women's Hockey East Championship at the Whittemore Center.
UNH is now 7-13-1 and the Wildcats advance to the next round, a Feb. 28 quarterfinal matchup at top-seeded Northeastern University. Game time is 7 p.m. on NESN.
Boutilier, who made 16 of her 31 saves in the second period, recorded her fifth shutout of the season, second in the postseason, and 12th of her career.
Freshman Nicole Kelly (Brantford, Ontario) scored two of the Wildcats' goals, including one in late in the third period to secure the win; the two goals and two points matched her career high. Classmate Chavonne Truter (Uxbridge, Ontario) also matched her high of two points with a goal and an assist.
Holy Cross goalie Jada Brenon stopped 29 of 32 shots. The Crusaders end the season at 4-15-1.
- New Hampshire recorded a 14-6 shot advantage and scored the only goal in the opening 20 minutes.
- Freshman Brianna Brooks (Whitby, Ontario) led a 2-on-1 into the left circle and centered the puck to Truter, who finished at 8:30 for her fifth goal of the season. Freshman Charli Kettyle (Perth, Ontario), with the stretch pass from the defensive zone to Brooks, was credited with the secondary assist.
- Kelly stepped into the passing lane high in the defensive zone and scored on a breakaway at 12:18 by snapping a rising wrister into the net to give UNH a 2-0 lead.
- The Wildcats recorded 13 blocked shots in the first period.
- Holy Cross outshot UNH 16-6 in the scoreless second 20 minutes to generate a 22-20 advantage through the first two periods.
- HC's Bryn Saarela lead a 2-on-1 15 seconds into the stanza, but junior Emily Rickwood (Brantford, Ontario) slid out to block the shot and deny a potential scoring opportunity.
- At 1:20, the Crusaders' Katie MacCuaig had a breakway chance stopped by Boutilier with a glove save.
- Brenon stopped all six of UNH's second-period shots, including a strong opportunity by sophomore Tamara Thiérus (Saint-Jérôme,Quebec) at 4:20.
- Both teams had a brief power play with checking penalties 33 seconds apart. Each team was held to one shot on the power play.
- Redshirt junior Paige Rynne (Ancaster, Ontario) stole the puck at the right post and her shot through traffic rang off the far post. Brooks' rebound attempt at the left doorstep was also saved by Brenon as she came out of her crease.
- Brenon keep the UNH lead 2-0 as she denied Brooks on a breakaway down the slot with a glove save.
- Holy Cross went on its second power play at 5:34. The Wildcat's penalty kill blocked a couple of shots and limited the Crusaders to one shot on goal, which was stopped by Boutilier to preserve the two-goal advantage.
- UNH extended its lead to 3-0 at 15:11 when Kelly redirected Truter's centering pass into an open net for her second goal of the game. Kelly initiated the 2-on-1 breakout by collecting a loose puck in the neutral zone and passing it ahead to Truter on the left wing.
- Boutilier stopped all nine shots in the final 20 minutes.
- Senior Maddie Truax (Gardner, Mass.) finished with a game-high six blocks.
- Rickwood was credited with four blocks.
- Kelly has a pair of two-goal games this season; both came in home games against Holy Cross.
- Kelly leads UNH in points (14) and assists (nine); she moved into a tie for second in goals with her fourth and fifth of the season.
- Truter's other two-point effort was in the Dec. 23 home win vs. the Crusaders.
- Kettyle now has six assists, which is tied for third on the team. Her nine points is tied for third overall as well as for tops among UNH defensemen.
- All six of UNH's points (three goals, three assists) were recorded by freshmen.
- Boutilier recorded 30+ saves for the fourth consecutive game and eighth time this season.
- Boutilier increased her career saves total to 2,334, which ranks second in program history. Jen Huggon holds the benchmark of 2,851.
- Boutilier is No. 4 in career minutes at 5044:13; third on the list is Alicia Roberts at 6526:33.
- Holy Cross won 10 of 17 faceoffs in both the first and third periods and finished with a 30-25 advantage in the faceoff circle.
- UNH had a 12-9 shot advantage in the third period to finish with a 32-31 overall edge.
- The Wildcats' penalty kill was 2-for-2. Their power play went 0-for-1.
- UNH improves to 9-1-0 lifetime against Holy Cross.
- This was the first postseason meeting between the programs.
- Holy Cross recorded its first win against UNH on Dec. 30 with a 5-2 victory in Worcester, Mass.
- The Wildcats won the first eight meetings of the series.