DURHAM, N.H. – All bad things must come to an end. This was the case for the University of New Hampshire (UNH) Wildcats (1-5-1, 1-5-1) this past Friday. The Wildcats finally found their first win of the season when they hosted the University of Maine Black Bears (2-6-0, 0-3-0). Senior Goalie Ava Boutilier helped secure the win for the ‘Cats by recording 30 saves, including 12 in the third period for a .968 save rate. The final score in the Whittemore Center was 4-1.  

The Wildcats started off hot in the first period with two consecutive goals 20 seconds apart. This was their fastest start of the season thanks to senior forward Paige Rynne assisted by junior forward Tamara Thierus in the sixth minute. First-year forward Kira Juodikis was assisted by sophomore forward Brianna Brooks and sophomore defender Charli Kettyle in the seventh.  

UNH head coach Hilary Witt was happy with her team taking a strong lead early in the game.  

“Getting the lead early on was key,” Coach Witt explained. “It is really hard to score at this level where there is a lot of good goaltending and defense. So, you really do have to score early to have success in this league.” 

Midway into the second period, Brooks scored her first goal of the day in the ninth minute with help from Thierus and senior defender Maddie Traux. This gave the ‘Cats a 3-0 lead.  

Witt explained that the third goal before the Black Bears could get into their net was crucial to the team’s confidence and overall performance.  

That had been UNH’s largest lead of the season to that point. It stayed that way until the 12th minute in the second period when senior forward Ally Johnson got on the board with a power-play goal, thinning Maine’s deficit to two goals.  

The Wildcats have been very close to perfection when it comes to the penalty kill so this goal might have come as a surprise to many. Out of the 20 penalties that have been called on UNH, only three of them have been converted into goals.  

The Black Bears pulled their goalie in the 16th minute of the final frame, leaving an open opportunity for Kettyle to get her first goal of the season.  

Boutilier made two saves following the goal to clinch the win for the ‘Cats.  

“Ava [Boutilier] really made some big stops in the second and third for us but it was honestly an all-around great team effort,” said Witt. “In the first few games we had plenty of opportunities to score but we just didn’t finish. Luckily in this game we found the back of the net.”  

The Wildcats next game will be this Sunday at 2 p.m. on Halloween when they host the College of Holy Cross (1-7, 0-4) at the Whittemore Center. 

Photo courtesy of China Wong