Women’s hockey went 1-1 on the weekend with a 5-2 road loss to Boston College and a 3-0 home win against Holy Cross. Senior forward Nicole Dunbar had a goal in each game along with three points on the weekend and first year forward Tamara Thierus scored the first goal of her career.
Friday’s game against BC got off to a rocky start. The Eagles drove play and dominated the shot battle with a 16-3 advantage after the first period. They left the period with a 2-0 lead, both goals by sophomore forward Kelly Browne. She ended up with four of BC’s five goals.
The Wildcats cut the lead to one three minutes into the second period. Dunbar entered the zone one on one with a defender, created some space for herself and put a slapshot just under the goalie’s glove. Sophomore forward Lauren Martin and senior captain, forward Taylor Wenzcowski picked up the assists on the goal.
The Eagles put two more goals on the board, both from Browne and it sparked the Wildcats to pull sophomore goaltender Ava Boutilier who stopped 22 of the 26 shots she faced. She was replaced by first year goalie Nikki Harnett, who stopped 10 of the 11 shots she faced in her second career appearance.
The Eagles scored their fifth goal of the game 6:22 into the period. The Wildcats tried to fight back with Thierus’ goal late in the third, but it ended up as the last goal of the game. Thierus took a hard angle shot from the side of the net and banked it in off of the goalie’s back, senior forward Meghara McManus picked up the lone assist on the goal.
“We had a really tough first period,” said Head Coach Hillary Witt. “We battled back and gave ourselves some really good opportunities in the second and third and we never quit. I think scoring late was proof of that.”
The Wildcats fared much better in Sunday’s game against Holy Cross. They got off to a stronger start, driving the majority of the play early on. They outshot the Crusaders 15-2 in the first and won most of the puck battles. The Wildcats had a few really good chances in the first period, including a tip from Wenzcowski and a backhander from just in front of the net that nearly sailed in over the goalie’s head, but the first period was scoreless.
The Wildcats opened the scoring just 1:46 into the second period with Wenzcowski and Dunbar going into the zone two on one. Wenzcowski caught a stretch pass from senior captain, defensewoman Tori Howran, then ripped a shot off the goalie’s pads right over to Dunbar who finished off the rebound. The Wildcats had plenty of other really good chances, including three shots that rang off the posts.
McManus nearly made it 2-0 two minutes into the final period, but the goal was ruled off for after the net came off. Senior captain, forward Carlee Turner was going to the front of the net but got taken down by a defender as they both fell into the goalie, Turner fell into the net and knocked it off right as McManus cut to the middle of the ice, seeing the goalie out of position and slipped the puck in. The referee waved the goal off, saying the net came off first.
“I think getting to the net hard makes it difficult for the goalie and I think it opened up some things later,” said Head Coach Hillary Witt after the game.
McManus would end up scoring her own goal off a very impressive individual play. She took a pass from Thierus after a turnover then skated around the offensive zone for a while before finally shaking off the defender. McManus then cut to net at the bottom of the faceoff circle and slipped the puck in between the goalie’s legs to give the ‘Cats a two goal lead. It was her sixth goal of the season and gave her the team lead in goals. The third and final goal came while the Wildcats were on the powerplay with three minutes left in the game. Dunbar passed it to Martin, who sent a cross ice pass to Wenzcowski, who was wide open on the backdoor and sunk the shot just below the cross bar. It was Wenzcowski’s 12th point of the season and gave her the team lead.
“I had the puck on the offside, passed it to (Martin) and she made an unbelievable pass to (Wenzcowski), and she snuck it in, it was super nice,” said Dunbar, who picked up the secondary assist on that goal.
The Wildcats were in control for most of the game with the Crusaders and outshot them 44-15. Holy Cross goaltender, sophomore Jada Brennon stood on her head with 41 saves to keep the game close until the end. Even Coach Witt praised her play. Saying that some of the shots the team took would usually be goals, but credited Brennon for some her saves.
“She was making some awesome saves, I was proud of our team for not getting frustrated, they kinda kept playing and kept plugging away, kept being patient and we were rewarded at the end. They just kept playing it was really fun to see on the bench.”
Sophomore goalie Ava Boutilier had a quiet game for the Wildcats, only seeing 15 shots but she saved them all and picked up her third shutout of the season. She did not see much action but was sharp in the second period when she needed to be to keep the Wildcats in the lead.
“I thought we started fast and played with a lot of confidence,” Coach Witt said after the game. “I think they were very focused, and they prepared well to be ready to play.”
“It was a really big team effort coming off of BC. It was a tough game for us and then we definitely came together, worked as a team,” said Dunbar. “We had a couple team conversations to put a fire under our belly and I think we definitely came together today.”
The Wildcats will look to build off their win with two home games against University of Vermont on Nov. 8 at 6 p.m. then again, the next day at 3pm. The two teams tied 3-3 in their last matchup on October 18 in Vermont, with UNH surging after being down 3-0.