Women's Hockey: Losses keep coming for 'Cats

By Max Sullivan
On February 18, 2014

The UNH women's hockey team lost back-to-back home games to Vermont his weekend, bringing its record to 9-20-2, 4-13-2 in WHEA, and extending their losing streak to eight games.

Junior forward and alternate captain Hannah Armstrong said the Wildcats were ready to forget about the weekend as soon as the clocked ticked to zero on Sunday.

"As of right now, it's out of all our heads," Armstrong said. "We're focusing on next weekend and not really looking back on what happened."

In the first game on Saturday afternoon, the Wildcats lost 3-2 in a game that secured the Catamounts home ice in the first round of the Hockey East tournament. UNH senior forward and captain Nicole Gifford and sophomore forward Heather Kashman both scored Saturday, while UNH sophomore goaltender Vilma Vaattovaara stopped 28 of 31 shots on net. 

The players entered the second intermission Saturday with a 2-2 tie after a scrap over cheap shots by the Catamounts, setting the stage for a thrilling final period. After a hard fought third by the Wildcats, though, Vermont forward Casey Leveillee scored the game-winning goal with 3:36 remaining in the game. Vaattovaara made a pad stop on one shot from the left side, but Leveillee skated in from the left and knocked the puck into the back of the net. The play was reviewed to determine whether or not the puck was kicked in by the Catamount, but the call stood, making the score 3-2 Vermont.

Neither team scored in an evenly matched first period, but the Wildcats scored two consecutive goals in the second to make it 2-0, first on a pass by UNH senior forward Jenna Lascelle's  to Kashman from behind the Vermont net, making it 1-0.  5:42 later, UNH junior forward Hannah Armstrong passed from behind the Vermont net to Gifford in almost identical fashion as the first goal. Gifford tapped the puck past Vermont goaltender Roxanne Douville to make the score 2-0.

Momentum shifted 58 seconds later when Vermont scored the first of its own pair of consecutive goals. After Catamount forward Amanda Pelkey failed to score on a breakaway, Vermont forward Victoria Andreakos gained possession of the rebound on the right side of the zone and passed it back to her teammate, forward Megan Dalbec, who shot the puck past Vaattovaara's glove side to make it 2-1.

13:51 into the second period, Pelkey got her second point of the game by receiving a pass from Vermont defenseman Sarah Campbell and carrying the puck into the UNH zone. She shot from the right faceoff circle and put the puck past Vaattovaara's glove side, making the score 2-2.

Each of the three Wildcat lines played well for much of the third period. They all took several shots and were able to penetrate the Vermont zone effectively. Playing some of the best hockey of their season, it appeared the Wildcats might score again. They took 19 shots on goal in the third period.

The loss stung for the Wildcats. Vaattovaara struggled to find a bright spot in the afternoon's highly competitive match.

"It sucks," Vaattovaara said. "I hate losing."

Sunday's game started out in UNH's favor, as Gifford scored the first goal of the day at 9:28 on the power play, but Vermont scored three consecutive goals in the third period, cementing a 5-1 Wildcat loss. 

Catamount defenseman Greer Vogl scored the first third period goal with a wrist shot from the high slot in the UNH zone, just outside the left faceoff circle, through UNH goaltender Marie-Eve Jean's five hole, making the score 3-1. At 12:04 in the third, Zuback stole the puck just outside her offensive zone with no one in front of her. She skated in, slowed down as she approached Jean and easily put the puck past her stick side, making the score 4-1. Then, with only 1:58 remaining in the game, Vermont forward Dayna Colang made the final score of 5-1 when she skated to the slot in front of Jean between two Wildcat defenders and ripped a shot past the goalie's stick side.

The Wildcats nearly scored roughly eight minutes into the second period of Sunday's game when senior forward Jessica Hitchcock stole a puck on a penalty kill and carried it into the Vermont end. On her second shot of the play, Hitchcock whacked hard and jammed the puck through Douville's legs, but the puck trickled past the right post, missing the goal. At the next whistle, Hitchcock skated to the bench shaking her head, frustrated.

"I thought it was going to go in, but you know those are the bounces," Hitchcock said. "I was pretty upset."

The Wildcats outshot Vermont 86-54 this weekend, but Douville, who entered Saturday with the second best goals against average in WHEA (2.19 before Saturday, now 2.13), said after the first game that many of their shots were from the point, making it easy for her to track them. She stopped 45 shots Saturday afternoon, 38 the next day.

"They had some good chances, but most of the time they were shooting from the point, and I could see it," Douville said. "As long as you can see it, you can stop it."

Vermont head coach Jim Plumer said the amount of shots on Saturday were startling, not knowing the next day he'd again see his team outshot by 16.

"That's certainly the most shots we've given up in a long time," Plumer said.

UNH co-head coach Jamie Wood said Sunday that much of the weekend's results came down to Vermont's hot goaltender.

"They've got a great goalie, Douville," Wood said, "And, you know, we put a lot of shots on her this weekend, but we still were unable to score, and I think that is our challenge moving forward."

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