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Young players fuel three-point weekend for UNH


The Wildcats played two road games this weekend where they defeated the Boston College Eagles 3-0 and tied the Merrimack Warriors 2-2. Sophomore goalie Ava Boutilier returned to action and made 32 saves for her fifth shutout this season and then made 31 saves against Merrimack. First year forwards Tamara Thierus and Jada Christian led the way offensively with the two combining for six points on the weekend, each one scoring two goals. 

Thierus was awarded Hockey East Rookie of the Week for her four-point weekend (two goals and two assists). Her 19 points (six goals, 13 assists) are tied for second on the team with senior captain and forward Taylor Wenczkowski, who also has six goals and 13 assists on the year.  

The Wildcats got off to a good start and put on a lot of pressure. The Wildcats were first on the board, scoring nine minutes into the game. The play started with junior defensewoman Maddie Truax blocking a shot, senior forward Meghara McManus picked up the loose puck and sent it over to Thierus who took the puck all the way down on the rush. She beat the lone defender and roofed the shot bar down for her fifth goal of the season.  

Just a few minutes later at 12:05 into the period, the Wildcats struck on the powerplay to gain a two-goal lead. Christian scored her seventh of the season off the rebound of a shot from senior captain, forward Carlee Turner. Thierus also assisted on the goal.  

In the second period the Wildcats had four power plays but failed to convert on any of those, to extend their lead. They were one for seven on the power play and only generated five shots on goal.  

The Eagles came out hard in the third period, outshooting the Wildcats by a margin of 17-9. Boutilier was relied on to make a lot of tough saves but got some help from her team, who blocked eight shots in the third period alone, 15 through the entire game. Truax led the team with four blocked shots in the game.  

The Wildcats were able to weather the storm long enough for Thierus to score her second goal of the game with a little over three minutes left to go in the game, with assists coming from senior defensewoman and captain Tori Howran and first year forward Annie Berry. Howran started the rush by skating the puck up herself and left the puck for Thierus to walk in and wrist a shot top left corner to put the ‘Cats up by three.  

UNH followed up the performance by picking up a point in a 2-2 tie at Merrimack College. Special teams were important in this game as three of the game’s goals, and both of Merrimack’s goals, came on power plays.  

The Wildcats struck first with McManus scoring on a powerplay from Truax and sophomore defensewoman Talli Warren with five minutes left in the first period. Truax put a shot on net that McManus got her stick on to put it past the goalie for her team leading 16th goal this season.  

Halfway through the second the Warriors responded with a power play goal of their own when junior forward Kate Bukolska tipped in a shot from sophomore defensewoman Julia Maclean, with the secondary assist coming from junior forward Megan Fergusson.  

The Warriors powerplay struck again with just five minutes left in the second period. Sophomore forward Gabby Jones scored off a shot from a bad angle from senior forward Mikayla Grant-Mentis.  

That lead would not last long as Christian came through for the Wildcats with yet another important goal just one minute later. Sophomore forward Lauren Martin won a faceoff to Thierus who took it around the net and centered a pass to Christian as she finished the shot for her third goal this season that held up as a game tying goal. It was her eighth of the season and gave her goals in back to back games. 

Although the scoring was finished by the second period the chances were not, especially late in the game. The Wildcats took a penalty with 33 seconds left in regulation but held on to go to overtime, just to take another penalty a mere 13 seconds in. Despite Merrimack having a massive opportunity to close the game on a five on three chance, the Wildcats held on to tie the game and secure another very important point in the conference. Boutilier’s save percentage increased to a .937, which is third in the conference. Her 1.93 goals against average is fourth in the conference.  

The Wildcats currently sit sixth in Hockey East with 25 points, just one behind UConn and Providence who are tied for fourth with 26 points. They are also three points ahead of rival Maine who sit in seventh with 22 points. Their record is 11-10-3 in conference and 15-12-4 overall. 

They will be back in action with a home and home against the Boston University Terriers who are second in Hockey East with 31 points, 11 behind the Northeastern Huskies for first. Saturday February 15 will be at home then Sunday will be in Boston. There are only three games left in the regular season before playoffs so every point will be important for playoff positioning.  

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