The Wildcats continued their Hockey East campaign this weekend, and came out with a split.
On Saturday, the ‘Cats passed their first test with a victory against the Providence College Friars, 4-3 on the road. The same could not be said for Sunday, as overtime determined the UConn Huskies the winner by a 2-1 final score.
“I thought [Saturday] was an interesting game,” head coach Hilary Witt said. “There were some bouncy type of goals both ways.”
At 3:39 in the first period, Ali Praus put the ‘Cats up 1-0, but the Friars responded quickly themselves with a goal from Cassidy MacPherson at 4:06.
However, the ‘Cats stayed on the offensive, finding ways to keep themselves in the matchup. Jonna Curtis, the Wildcat’s leading goal-scorer and point producer, gave the ‘Cats the lead again with an unassisted goal at 17:47 of the first period to make it 2-1, UNH.
Carlee Toews had the game-winning goal for the ‘Cats on Saturday. Toews’ goal came just 23 seconds into the third period, with Curtis once again getting in the mix of a goal with an assist to give New Hampshire the 4-3 win.
Meghara McManus gave UNH their third goal of the evening. Tied at 2-2, McManus helped UNH respond and put them up 3-2 at 8:02 in the period. Toews was credited with an assist on McManus’ third goal of the season.
Curtis, McManus and Toews, scored two points each to propel the Wildcats to victory.
“We grinded it out,” Witt said. “I thought we played really solid, especially at the end. We had to kill a penalty with Curtis in the box, who is one of our best penalty killers. I thought we did a good job [Saturday], I was happy with the game.”
On Sunday, the ‘Cats battled UConn for nearly four periods, ending in a close overtime victory for the visiting Huskies. UConn struck first on the power play. They started from the point, dishing the puck back and forth with the ‘Cats on their heels. Leah Lum eventually put the Huskies on top 1-0 at 6:33 in the second period.
But much like what the ‘Cats did on Saturday, they responded. A familiar goal-scorer tied the game for UNH.
At 5:47 in the third period, Curtis came through with a goal to tie the game up at 1-1. With traffic in the crease, Curtis managed to find a loose puck in close, where she typically finds her goals, and beat UConn’s Annie Belanger glove-side high – a goal that shows the Wildcats were confident in their abilities.
“They’re starting to realize when we play with confidence we start to see results,” Witt said.
After a tough second frame, the Wildcats came roaring back in the third to force a decisive overtime against the Huskies.
“UConn definitely brought it to us during the second [period],” Smith said. “I thought we bounced back pretty quickly and played really well in the third.”
The overtime brought the best out of both teams. Both goaltenders put their teams in a position to win with pace and pressure.
With 34.5 seconds remaining in the overtime frame, UConn’s Lindsay Roethke beat Smith, who finished with 24 saves, en route to a 2-1 overtime win.
“I thought that UConn played really well, disciplined,” Witt said. “I didn’t think we had the energy we needed to have against them in the first two periods. I thought in the third, we played the way we can play.”
“There was a lot of traffic in front,” Smith said regarding the game-winning goal. “It was a quick shot. I wasn’t really expecting it, but you’ve got to do what you can.”
The Wildcats are back in action on Friday, Nov. 11. They’ll take on the No. 4 Boston College Eagles at 7 p.m.