Less than a week after the team’s first practice of the 2016-17 season, the UNH women’s ice hockey team took the ice against the Whitby Jr. Wolves in a 2-0 exhibition win at the Whittemore Center Friday evening.
“I thought we looked like a team that hasn’t played in a long time,” head coach Hilary Witt said. “Early on, with a lot of young players, there’s a lot of little details that you don’t figure out until you play. I thought by the third period we started to do some things that we really wanted to do.”
By the third period, the ‘Cats were rolling, and junior forward Carlee Toews kept them going.
On the power-play as a result of an interference, UNH went on the attack. Junior defensemen Amy Schlagel carried the puck on the blue line and sent a cross-ice pass to Jenna Rheault. Rheault sent a wrist shot toward traffic in front of the net, where Toews was able to redirect the puck past Whitby goaltender Rachel McQuigge at 2:49 in the third period.
“It was kind of a weak shot to be honest,” Witt said. “But when you do the right things in front of the net and your stick is in the right spot, they go in.”
UNH came out strong early in Friday’s exhibition. Their quick play and dominant offensive time on attack had the Wolves on their heels, which led to two power-plays for interference and tripping.
The Wildcats found the back of the net late in the first period with a goal from Schlagel to take the 1-0 lead..
Schlagel dangled her way around the Wolves’ defenders and into the slot. She then rifled a shot that redirected off the boards and back on her stick near the right post, where she snuck the puck past Whitby goaltender Makenzy Arsenault at 17:48.
“Schlagel’s [goal] was good, because she kept going,” Witt said. “She didn’t stop after she shot, she followed her shot, put it away.”
With her goal on Friday, Schlagel continued her offensive success from last season. Schlagel, along with fellow junior defensemen Julia Fedeski, were two of UNH’s leading point producers with double-digit numbers. Schlagel led all Wildcat blue liners and finished third in points with 21, coming from nine goals and 12 assists.
The Wildcats will now focus their attention toward a two-game series on the road against Colgate University.
But for Witt, there’s still work to be done even after a shutout exhibition win.
“We’re going to have to play a lot better than we did today,” Witt said. “We’re rusty, they’re rusty. We’re both going to be going into our first weekend. I like our team. I like our feistiness. I thought our goalies – they didn’t get tested much – but they looked sharp. We’ll be ready to go for the weekend.”
The ‘Cats will play in Colgate’s homecoming weekend on Oct. 1-2. As Colgate opens its season at home, the team and Witt are ready for the challenge.
“We’re excited about it,” Witt said. “We haven’t played Colgate, so it’s a little bit of the unknown. We’re opening their rink so it should be an exciting weekend. We’ll be ready to go by then.”