With major playoff implications on the line, the University of Vermont dealt the Wildcats two heartbreaking losses this weekend at the Whittemore Center.
The top four seeds in Hockey East get home ice advantage in the opening round of the playoffs, and UNH entered the weekend just three points behind the fourth place University of Connecticut Huskies, with the possibility of gaining ground or passing them in the standings. Instead, the Catamounts took all four points and are now tied with the Wildcats at 14 points, though they have played in one more game.
According to sophomore defenseman Amy Schlagel, the importance of these games makes the losses more upsetting, but the team must put it behind them.
“It’s tough,” she said. “This was a big weekend for us, but you just have to move on. You can’t do anything now, so just look forward to next weekend.”
The Wildcats’ overall record fell to 10-19-1, including 7-13-0 in Hockey East play.
Third periods were an issue for the Wildcats in both games, with both game-winning goals coming in the final frame. On Friday night, UVM scored with 1:12 remaining in the game to break a 1-1 tie and clinch the win in dramatic fashion. The following evening, UNH entered the third period with a 2-1 lead, but two goals in the final 20 minutes sealed a two-game sweep for the Catamounts.
Team captain Sara Carlson said that the team may have underestimated UVM, which entered the weekend with a 6-21-2 record.
“I think that we maybe came out there a little bit too confident,” she said.
Head coach Hilary Witt saw plenty of areas in which her team needs to improve for the remainder of the season.
“We’ve got to be willing to play tougher,” she said. “We’ve got to do the hard things. We’ve got to win battles, we’ve got to get pucks to the net and go for rebounds.”
Senior forward Margo Lund picked up a goal and an assist on the weekend and has scored two goals and two assists in the past five games. Her gorgeous goal on Saturday was the highlight of the weekend for UNH. At 6:29 of the second period, during a scoreless tie, Lund toe-dragged her way by a defender before firing a shot on goal and jamming in her rebound. The White Bear Lake, Minnesota native earned her fourth goal of the season with the impressive effort.
After picking up an assist on Nicoline Jensen’s power play goal in game two, Schlagel now has five points in the past five games. She is third on the team with 17 points this season, behind Jonna Curtis and Amy Boucher, making her UNH’s highest scoring defenseman.
The Wildcats are down to their final four games of the regular season, as teams continue to jockey for playoff positioning. They face off against Boston University on Feb. 13-14 in a home-and-home series.