Jan. 19, 2014
DURHAM, N.H. – The UConn women’s hockey team (6-16-2, 3-7-1 WHEA) got a pair of third period goals from Sarah MacDonnell (Quispamsis, New Brunswick) to erase a two-goal deficit, but fell, 3-2, to New Hampshire (9-12-2, 4-5-2 WHEA) on Sunday afternoon at the Whittemore Center.
The goals from MacDonnell were her second and third of the week after tallying vs. Northeastern on Jan. 15, and she now leads UConn with nine goals this season. Elaine Chuli (Waterford, Ontario) made 30 saves for UConn, marking the seventh straight game she has stopped at least 30 shots, but allowed more than two goals for the first time since Nov. 30. UConn was 0-for-7 on the power play and was out-shot 33-26 on the afternoon.
Mere seconds after the puck was dropped, UNH took a 1-0 lead with Nicole Gifford following up her own rebound to get the Wildcats on the board 14 seconds into the first. UNH killed off a UConn power play that began 2:35 into the opening stanza, with the best chance for the Huskies coming from a snap shot off the stick of Rachel Farrel (Cheshire, Conn.).
Michela Cava (Thunder Bay, Ontario) made a bid to get UConn on the board 11:22 into the first, but UNH's Vilma Vaattovaara snared her top-shelf attempt. Chuli turned aside a Gifford shot in the final five minutes of the opening stanza, before Vaattaovaara returned the favor to stop a breakaway chance from Stephanie Raithby (London, Ontario). The first period ended with UNH still up 1-0, despite an even 11-11 mark in shots on goal.
The Huskies opened the second period with 1:12 of power play remaining from a call late in the first, but two saves from Vaattovaara on Kelly Harris (Canton, Mich.) shots kept UConn off the board. UNH’s Arielle O’Neill was called for tripping 9:03 into the second period, but midway through the UConn power play Harris was whistled for interference and the Wildcats got their fourth straight kill. During the ensuing 4-on-4, Cassandra Vilgrain made it 2-0 UNH with a rebound score, the goal coming at 10:59 of the second.
After a bevy of penalties late in the second period didn’t net a goal for either side despite multiple power play chances, the contest went to the second intermission with UNH leading, 2-0. The Wildcats out-shot the Huskies 15-8 in period number two, and Chuli made 14 saves in the frame to keep it a two-goal game.
The Huskies cut the UNH lead to one early in the third period, scoring 1:48 into the frame. Taking a feed from Kiana Nauheim (Fairbanks, Alaska), Farrel fired a shot on goal that was stopped by Vaattovaara. MacDonnell was there for the rebound, and after her first bid was stuffed she fired again and buried her eighth of the year to make it a 2-1 game.
MacDonnell didn’t wait long to equalize with her second goal of the day, scoring again 1:43 after her first tally. Taking a feed from Cava, MacDonnell soared in to beat Vaattovaara at 3:31 and make it a 2-2 game.
UNH responded to go back on top with under five minutes to go in the third period. Sara Carlson made a heady play behind the net to feed Jonna Curtis, who snuck a shot past Chuli at 15:19 to make it 3-2 Wildcats.
Chris MacKenzie called timeout for UConn with 2:15 to play in regulation, and then pulled Chuli for the extra skater. UNH was called for checking with 1:40 remaining, giving the Huskies a 6-on-4 advantage. Connecticut couldn’t connect, and New Hampshire held on for a 3-2 victory.
Up next, UConn plays another key Hockey East home-and-home series, facing Providence next weekend. The Friars will visit Freitas Ice Forum on Saturday, Jan. 25, before the Huskies travel to PC on Sunday, Jan. 26. Both contests will get underway at 2 p.m.