By Melissa Proulx, Staff Writer
UNH’s women’s hockey coach Hilary Witt had only one focus after Thursday night’s 2-0 loss to Northeastern University.
“I told the team, that’s the prerequisite is the effort,” Witt said in the postgame press conference. “That’s the thing we have to know is going to happen every time, and now we have to be able to put pucks in the net. You’re not going to win if you don’t score.”
UNH drops to 2-7-3 overall and are 0-3 in Hockey East. Northeastern improves to 2-3-3 overall and are 1-1 in the conference.
In the second period, Northeastern sophomore left wing Hayley Scammura scored the first goal of the game within the first minute and half of the period. Scammura caught a rebound and was able to sink a backhand shot into the net past UNH junior netminder Vilma Vaattovaara.
In the third period, Northeastern captain and center Kendall Coyne was able to get the puck past the right post following a failed clear by UNH defenseman Haley Breedlove. Coyne stole the puck and found her way to the crease with little resistance from the UNH defense, giving the Huskies a 2-0 lead.
Despite the two slips, Vaattovaara was able to block 17 other shots on the goal.
“First goal, on a good day, a great day, I would have had that. It kind of slipped through. I noticed that (Scammura) had some time, so it was kind of mental like that,” Vaattovaara said. “Second goal, Coyne, obviously she’s a very good player. Both team got opportunities, sometimes you get them, sometimes you don’t.”
UNH was also maintained the advantage of attempts on goals throughout the entire game, with the final total being 28 to 19. Witt pulled Vaattovaara from the net with the Wildcats on the power play to give them a six-on-four advantage with 2:30 remaining in the third.
Part of the challenge for the team was the strategy Northeastern used. The team used 2-3 fore-check play, in which, when the puck was in UNH’s zone, three players stayed back towards the net while two stayed more towards the middle to pressure the puck. This defensive strategy became apparent during the last couple of periods of the game, according to Witt.
“It’s a great system and I think they do it pretty well. But like anything, it can be exposed just like what we do could be exposed, depending on what the team is trying to do,” she said. “They play their style and they’re committed to it, they make it difficult to play against them. But our kids did a great job defending against them and fore-checking it.”
Even with this loss, Witt believes that the team has made significant improvements since their last game and will only continue to do so going forward. The team will hit the ice on Sunday at No. 6 Boston University.
“We have a couple days to go before we play BU and we’ll do some things to work on scoring, that’s for sure,” Witt said. “But we’re getting better every day, and that’s been our goal, and that’s what we’re going to keep doing. Besides not scoring, I thought we played real well and that’s a very good hockey team we played tonight.”