That is a wrap on the 2015-2016 season.
With a pair of losses to the University of Connecticut, the Wildcats were eliminated from the Hockey East playoffs in the quarterfinals for the fifth straight season. UConn took game one by a score of 3-2, and game two, 4-3, in a triple overtime thriller.
Ending the season in such heartbreaking fashion will sting for quite some time, but head coach Hilary Witt said she liked the competitiveness that her team displayed.
“I am very proud of this team,” she said. “I wish it would have ended differently for the seniors. We have a bright future, but that certainly doesn’t make this hurt any less.”
It is no secret that UConn’s goaltender, Elaine Chuli, is one of the best in Hockey East. She finished the regular season ranked second in the conference with a .943 save percentage, and third with a 2.21 goals against average. Coach Witt described Chuli as “outstanding,” and she proved to be just that. The senior net minder stole the show in both games, stopping an incredible 113 of 118 shots faced on the weekend.
The opening period of Friday’s game was a quick indicator of how difficult the series would be. UNH outshot UConn 19-8 in the first, but found itself trailing 1-0. The Wildcats ended up in a 3-0 hole about 13 minutes into the middle frame, and Witt made the decision to swap goalies. Senior Vilma Vaattovaara was inserted into the game in relief of freshman Kyra Smith, who allowed three goals on 16 shots.
Following the change in net, UNH made a strong push to erase the significant deficit, receiving goals from Julia Fedeski and Kate Haslett, but it was too little too late. The comeback fell short, despite a lopsided 46-25 shot advantage.
Game two saw the roles reversed, with the Huskies fighting to close a gap in the third period. Freshman forward Taylor Wenczkowski scored her second goal of the night at 2:09 of the final frame, giving the ‘Cats a 3-1 cushion. It was their game to lose.
UConn put a shot past Vaattovaara just over five minutes later to cut the lead to one, putting all of the pressure on UNH to preserve its lead. The Wildcats held on until the final minute, when the Huskies pulled their goalie in favor of an extra attacker, and buried the tying goal with 41 seconds remaining.
Overtime was controlled by the ‘Cats, but Chuli stood tall, and turned away everything thrown her way. Nearly four hours after puck drop, UConn scored early in triple overtime to cap off a gut-wrenching loss for UNH. The Wildcats held a 72-39 shot advantage in the game, including 38-14 in overtime.
Despite ending the season with two tough losses, Witt said she was pleased with her team’s performance.
“I could not be more proud of the way we battled,” she said.

Executive Editor