On the biggest weekend of the year for UNH women’s ice hockey, the biggest star had a career weekend.
Led by senior Jonna Curtis, UNH escaped the weekend series against UConn with two pivotal wins, both by the score of 4-1.
“I thought we played with a lot of guts and I thought we worked really hard,” head coach Hilary Witt said. “Kids stepped up big this weekend.”
Friday night’s win was especially significant for Curtis, as she recorded her 100th career point.
Curtis entered the night with 97 points, and after recording two assists, her third-period goal at 5:32 solidified the milestone, and the win.
“That was great,” Witt said on Curtis’ achievement. “The kid deserves it so much. Everybody was just so happy for her, to see her get to that mark.”
Schlagel’s first goal put the ‘Cats on the board and tied the game at 1-1 at 14:16 of the second period. Her second goal resulted from a 5-on-3 power-play at 4:15 of the third period.
Seventy-seven seconds later, Curtis netted her milestone goal and capped off the scoring. Curtis’ goal was also scored on the power-play, as UNH ended Friday night’s win with three goals in total on the man advantage.
“We responded well and scored a couple power-play goals, which we needed,” Witt said. “We just kept putting pressure on [UConn] and we were successful at putting pucks in the net.”
Saturday “was a battle,” according to Witt, but Curtis’ success continued as she and goaltender Hilary Cashin lifted the Wildcats to another win over UConn and ended the weekend with four points gained in the Hockey East standings.
Curtis scored two goals and added an assist to the win, putting UNH on the board first on Saturday afternoon. Curtis’ first goal was a shorthanded goal at 11:46 of the second period. The shorthanded goal marked Curtis’ second in February alone.
“We had just killed a 5-on-3,” Witt said. “And [Curtis] came out of the penalty box and we found her out in the neutral zone and she scored a beautiful goal, and that was just a big lift.”
Curtis ended the game with an unassisted empty-net goal with 1:36 remaining in the third period, with goals also coming from Carlee Toews and Carlee Turner.
Cashin’s performance was yet another key factor in UNH’s success this weekend. On Saturday, Cashin made 29 saves on 30 shots, while on Friday night the goaltender made 27 saves on 28 shots faced.
“[Cashin] really played an amazing game [on Saturday],” Witt said.
Saturday’s win places UNH in sole possession of the sixth seed in the Hockey East standings and improves its record to 13-17-2 overall on the season.
The playoffs begin next week for the league tournament with a best-of-three quarterfinal series at Boston University.
UNH will take on third ranked Terriers in Boston on Saturday, Feb. 25 at 3 p.m., and for Witt, it’s all about confidence.
“I think we’re going into the playoffs with a good mindset,” Witt said. “I think we believe we can beat anyone. I think we’ll go in with a ton of confidence.”