BOSTON, Mass. (March 12, 2005) Senior Tiffany Owens (Novi, Mich.) netted the game-winning goal 10:27 into overtime as 10th-ranked University of Connecticut womens hockey team defeated No. 8 University of Hampshire, 5-4, in the second semifinal game of the Hockey East Tournament on Saturday afternoon in Boston, Mass. The victory sends the No. 3 seed Huskies to their first-ever appearance in the conference championship game where they will face top-seeded Providence College, who defeated Boston College in the first semifinal.
The win also extends UConns unbeaten streak to nine games, and improves its overall record to 16-11-8. The Wildcats fall to 21-8-6.
After a scoreless first period in which the Wildcats out-shot UConn 12-2, the Huskies bounced back in the second, opening the scoring just 1:55 into the period. Senior Megan McLeod (Livonia, Mich.) fired two shots on goal with UNH netminder Melissa Bourdon saving both. Fellow senior Angie Wallace (Mullett Lake, Mich.) then picked up the second rebound and fed it over to sophomore Leslie Hurlburt (Markham, Ont.), whose shot trickled past Bourdon to give the Huskies a 1-0 lead.
The lead was then doubled at 12:25, when Owens netted her fifth power play goal of the year. Hockey East Rookie of the Year Jaclyn Hawkins (Manotick, Ont.) passed the puck across the slot to junior Alicia Ramolla (Barrie, Ont.), who then centered it to Owens. She flicked it in the goal to put the Huskies up 2-0.
The Wildcats answered though, with two goals in the last 6:19 to knot the score at 2-2 going into the second intermission. Leah Craig scored at 13:41 and Becky Peters followed at 18:43 to put UNH on the board. Both teams registered seven shots on goal in the second period.
UConn regained the lead within the first minute of the third stanza, with sophomore Natalie Vibert (Thunder Bay, Ont.) notching her eighth goal of the season. The defenseman scored on a slap shot fired from the top of the left circle, with the pass coming from senior Jacquelyn McGuire (Glenview, Ill.). The power play goal moved the Huskies ahead 3-2.
The lead was not safe again though, as New Hampshire tied the game once more at 4:04 on a goal by Lindsey Caleo. The Wildcats then went ahead for the first time in the game just 44 seconds later on a goal by Jennifer Hitchcock to move the score to 4-3 in favor of UNH.
With the game winding down, the Huskies drove the puck into the New Hampshire zone and crashed the net. Vibert fired a shot on goal, and Hawkins picked up the rebound and tucked it in for her 25th goal of the season. The lamplighter tied the game at 4-4 and sent it into a 20-minute overtime.
Both teams had quality scoring opportunities in the overtime session, but neither was able to get anything in, until the Huskies went on a power play. UConn forced the puck up the ice from their own zone, with Hawkins feeding fellow freshman Liz Gallinaro (Amherst, Mass.) who passed the puck over to Owens, streaming down the right side. Owens then fired a slap shot that beat the UNH goaltender and rattled into the back of the net giving Connecticut its first Hockey East semifinal victory.
For the game, the Huskies were out-shot 36-22 by New Hampshire. But the difference was in the special team performance, as UConn went 3-for-8 on the power play and held UNH scoreless with the man-advantage with a perfect 6-for-6 execution on the penalty kill.
Junior goaltender Kaitlyn Shain (Calgary, Alberta) collected her 12th win of the season, with 32 saves. Brittany Busa, who replaced Bourdon in the third period, got the loss for the Wildcats.
The Hockey East Championship game will be broadcast on NESN beginning at 1:00 p.m. in most areas. Some Massachusetts and Vermont counties may be airing the game on tape-delay due scheduling conflicts, with the broadcast beginning at 4:00 p.m. There will also be live audio broadcast via the US College Hockey Online website (www.uscho.com). Their coverage of the championship game will begin at 12:50 p.m., with the link to the game on the .