DURHAM, N.H. - The UConn women's hockey team got 45 saves from Elaine Chuli and erased an early two-goal deficit in a 2-2 draw at New Hampshire on Sunday afternoon at the Whittemore Center. The result moves the Huskies to 7-16-7 on the year and 3-10-4 in Hockey East play, while the Wildcats are now 8-19-2 overall and 5-11-1 in league action.
After UConn fell behind 2-0 in the first period, Rebecca Fleming (Newton, Mass.) and Margaret Zimmer (St. Charles, Ill.) scored in the second frame to level the contest and support the strong goaltending of Chuli (Waterford, Ontario). New Hampshire held a 47-22 advantage in shots on goal and a 37-33 edge in the face-off dot, while neither team converted on a combined nine power play chances. The Husky penalty kill was sharp with six kills and Connecticut blocked 11 shots in the tie.
The Wildcats broke into the score column at 6:49 of the opening period when Kayla Mork followed a Jonna Curtis shot off the crossbar with a rebound goal to make it 1-0 UNH. During a period of 4-on-4 later in the first, Cassandra Vilgrain made it 2-0 with a goal at 12:52. The Wildcats took that lead to the first intermission, thanks in part to an 18-7 edge in shots on goal during the first stanza.
The Huskies cut the New Hampshire lead in half, scoring at 5:15 of the second frame to make it a 2-1 game. After a feed from Kelly Harris (Canton, Mich.), Fleming flew into the UNH zone and fired a hard and low shot from the right circle past Vaattovaara on the far post for her sixth goal of the season.
UConn struck again late in the second to level the contest at two-all. A breakout pass from Leah Lum (Richmond, British Columbia) allowed Zimmer and Reese Maccario (Marblehead, Mass.) to gain the UNH zone in a 2-on-1 rush, and Zimmer fed Maccario for a shot in front that was saved. Not to be denied, Zimmer dove to the ice and backhanded home the rebound for her sixth of the year at 18:25 of the period.
The Huskies killed a UNH power play in the last five minutes of the third, and Chuli stood tall on another swarm of Wildcat chances in the final two minutes. Harris nearly gave the Huskies a winner in the final minute, but couldn't handle a rebound of her own shot in front before the net came off its post. With less than 10 seconds remaining in the third, Chuli laid out and snagged a Vilgrain shot from point-blank range and the contest went to overtime.
After an even start to overtime, UConn took a penalty with 1:21 remaining to disrupt a New Hampshire break on goal. Chuli saved all three shots she faced during the abbreviated power play, keeping the Wildcats off the board and securing the tie.
Up next, UConn concludes its regular-season home schedule with two games against Northeastern at Freitas Ice Forum. The Huskies in National Flag Blue and White and the Huskies in Red and Black will face off on Feb. 14 and Feb. 15 for a pair of 3 p.m. puck drops.
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