STORRS, Conn. – Despite many scoring chances, including three power plays and a pair of shots rattling off the post, the UConn women’s ice hockey team could not capitalize on Friday night – falling to New Hampshire, 3-0, at the Mark Edward Freitas Ice Forum.
The Huskies (4-7-7, 0-6-4 WHEA) were led by senior Leah Lum with a game-high six shots, including one off the inner-part of the post late in the third period, but UNH goalie Kyra Smith held firm with a 27-save shutout in Hockey East action.
In the final game before a three-week winter break, UConn hung tough with Hockey East’s third-place team – facing just a 1-0 deficit heading into the third period. The Wildcats tacked on two more, including an empty-netter, for the 3-0 win.
“It was just another hard-fought battle. I liked the effort and competitiveness of our team,” said head coach Chris MacKenzie. “I feel like at this point, we’re just finding ways to not get it done. It’s been going on for a while.”
Sophomore goalie Morgan Fisher made 27 saves between the pipes in her sixth start of the season. She made two saves in a matter of seconds early in the first period when UNH’s Grace Middleton and Amy Schlagel fired close-range shots – keeping the game scoreless.
The Huskies were outshot, 30-27, but held a 10-7 advantage in the third period while playing the better part of the final three minutes with six skaters. Senior Justine Fredette and freshman Natalie Snodgrass each had four shots in the contest.
— UConn Women's Hockey (@UConnWHOC) December 9, 2017
“Maybe right now the break is a good thing for us; it gives us a chance to reset and treat the second half as a different season,” said MacKenzie. “Hopefully we are at that place mentally where we can come back for a great second half.”
UNH seemingly drew first blood at the 7:16 mark of the second period on a breakaway goal, but MacKenzie asked for a review and it was determined the UNH scorer was offside – resulting in a clean slate on the scoreboard.
Little more than three minutes later, Schlagel scored for UNH on a power play after junior Jaime Fox was called for roughing – making it 1-0. UConn killed the Wildcats’ three other power plays on the night, which included a 3-on-5 situation in the second period.
The Wildcats tacked on a pair of goals in the final four minutes, including an empty-netter at 19:13, putting the game out of reach. UConn’s best chance came on a rip from Lum, which bounced off the post and across the goalie crease.
“Reflection. We need to look at ourselves as individuals and as a team,” said MacKenzie. “We need to try to find things that help us improve – that’s what we’re trying to do all the time.”
The Huskies now have winter break for final exams and the holidays; they return to action on Dec. 31 with a game at Dartmouth. Puck drop is scheduled for 3 p.m.
UConn women’s ice hockey hopes all of UConn Nation has a happy and healthy holiday season!