UNH women’s hockey: Witt remains confident after UConn’s two-game sweep of the Wildcats



Spencer Marks, Sports Writer

STORRS, CONN. – It’s a new year with similar results for the University of New Hampshire (UNH) Wildcats (8-14-2, 6-10-1). The Wildcats traveled to Storrs, Conn. for a two-game road series against the dominant UConn Huskies (19-5-2, 13-4-2).  

Head coach Hilary Witt said that her New Year’s resolution for her hockey team is to play more like a team. She mentioned that if it wasn’t about the score, she thinks the team is playing well overall.  

The ‘Cats went into the series with a bit of confidence after tallying two wins over the Providence Friars a couple weeks back. That confidence seems like it may have had some time settle, however, after their last series was postponed. 

UConn bested UNH in both games bringing them back down to earth on their way back up to Durham.  

Witt mentioned that the team’s lack of winning could be a cause of not getting their shots past blockers and not finishing off rebounds.  

Game number one ended in favor of the Huskies. They maintained control throughout most of the opening 20 minutes recording a 15-4 shot advantage over the Wildcats.  

The 15 shots led to two goals for UConn. This was UNH junior goaltender Nicky Harnett’s third consecutive start of 2022. After racking up two wins, Harnett received a wakeup call.  

According to Witt, the disappearance of senior goalie Ava Boutilier is solely to, “give Nicky an opportunity. She played really well against Providence, so we kept rolling with her. But you’ll see both of them playing because we need them both in this tough league.” 

Going into the second period the ‘Cats were down by two and looked to make an impressive comeback.  

They started the second frame by recording a 6-4 shot advantage over the Huskies and first-year forward Kira Juodikis scored her 11th goal of the season in the 11th minute of the period. She was assisted by sophomore forward Nicole Kelly. This was the lone goal of the period which brought the deficit to just one goal heading into the final period.  

UNH had a 6-5 shot advantage in the third period, but the score still did not end up in their favor.  

The Huskies picked up their second power-play of the game midway through the period which led to graduate student forward Summer-Rae Dobson scoring the game-sealing goal. The UConn forward scored off a rebound from Harnett’s pads to secure the 3-1 win. 

Tuesday’s game was no different. UConn controlled the score from the puck drop in the first period to the triple zeros in the third period.  

The only two goals of the game were scored amidst a 14-9 shot advantage in the opening 20 minutes.  

Goal number one was scored during a power-play by graduate-student forward Natalie Snodgrass who was assisted by Dobson in the 17th minute.  

With just about three seconds left in the period UNH let up a goal to UConn’s junior forward Amy Landry.

The final score from Storrs was 2-0 in favor of the Huskies. Through the final two periods Harnett managed to save 24 shots.  

After going 2-3 so far in 2022, Witt spoke about different ways that she plans on helping her team jump above .500.  

“We need to get consistent goaltending,” said Witt. “We’ve let in a lot of goals, and we are better than that. We’ve been through a lot in the last few weeks with Covid, but we stuck together and ultimately we need to play more like a team.” 

The ‘Cats continue their road trip on Friday, Jan. 29 when they look to bounce back against the Merrimack College Warriors (5-18-1, 4-14-1) at 6 p.m. The three-game series comes to a rubber match after each team recorded a win back in early November.  

“I know this team and I really like where we are at,” explained Witt. “I really think people need to take us seriously or they’re going to be in trouble.” 

Photo courtesy of Tari Pecevich