By MARK GARBINO
The Wildcats were handed two straight losses by No. 2 Boston College in a home-and-home series over the weekend. BC took the first game with relative ease, skating to a 6-1 win on Friday in Chestnut Hill, before a much tighter 3-0 battle Saturday afternoon at the Whittemore Center.
UNH now possesses an overall record of 2-11 on the season.
Coming off of her first career win, freshman goalie Kyra Smith got the start between the pipes in both contests. Smith was named Hockey East Defensive Player of the Week on Nov. 9 for her 21-save performance at the University of Connecticut. She stopped a career-high 34 shots on Friday and 24 on Saturday.
Head coach Hilary Witt is pleased with what she has seen out of Smith through her first four games.
“[Smith] has just given us the best chance right now,” said Witt. “She’s getting confident, and we like what she is doing, we like her approach, so she deserved the opportunity.”
Smith may be inexperienced, but her approach to facing the undefeated Eagles exhibited her maturity and poise.
“They are the No. 1 team, but I still have the same job to do as I do against any other team in the league,” she said. “I’ve felt good, but I think I can do better. Every day you just get stronger.”
Saturday’s tilt saw the Wildcats play a complete effort that made BC work for every inch of the ice.
The game got off to an even start, with both teams putting together stretches of offensive zonetime.
Two Wildcat penalties on the same play gave the Eagles a full two-minute 5-on-3 power play midway through the first period, and BC made them pay for their mistakes. BC captain Alex Carpenter lifted a wrist shot far side under the cross bar to break the scoreless tie. Just 49 seconds later, a shot from the point was tipped in, and the Wildcats suddenly found themselves with a 2-0 deficit.
BC added another goal in the second period, when a dominant shift ended with a shot being blown over Smith’s blocker, putting the Eagles up 3-0.
The Wildcats made a strong push in the third period, but could not beat goaltender Katie Burt. UNH outshot BC 11-7 in the final frame and generated numerous quality scoring chances, including a couple on a long 5-on-3 advantage. Final shots in the game were 27-24 in favor of BC.
Despite the loss, Witt felt that her team played a strong game, after allowing only one even-strength goal to a team whose offense tends to have its way with its opponents.
“We just went out and played the game, and because of that, we were able to compete pretty well with a great team,” said Witt. “We’re getting better and better.”
Friday afternoon’s matchup at BC was a bit of a different story.
The Eagles put the Wildcats on their heels by scoring two goals in just over six minutes to begin the game.
An early second period goal put BC up 3-0, but center Amy Boucher tried to pull UNH back into the game when she buried her fourth goal of the season. This pulled the Wildcats within two, but they could not build on their score, as the Eagles kept momentum on their side. BC tacked on another two goals late in the period to hold a 5-1 lead, and a 32-13 shot advantage through two periods.
A late power play goal finished off BC’s convincing victory.
The Wildcats have a short break before their next game. They will head to Harvard University on Wednesday, looking to break the Crimson’s five-game winning streak.
Eagles soar past 'Cats in doubleheader
By MARK GARBINO