UNH Women’s Hockey: Wildcats Sweep Holy Cross

Luca Villeneuve, Sports Writer

Durham N.H. – The University of New Hampshire (UNH) Wildcats faced the Holy Cross Crusaders this past weekend in a crucial two-game home and home Hockey East matchup. The Wildcats swept the Crusaders, improving their record to (4-7-0), (3-5-0). 

On Friday in Worcester, senior goaltender Nicky Harnett started in goal for the ‘Cats to open the weekend Hart Center Arena. Harnett stopped all 13 shots thrown her way, resulting in her first shutout of the year and the fourth in her career.  

Junior forward Brianna Brooks continued to increase her point total with two assists in the contest, coming in the first and second period. 

UNH was the first team on the board when Brooks won the faceoff and passed to senior defenseman Rae Breton who scored at 18:47 in the first period.  

The Wildcats extended their lead early in the start of the second with another successful scoring opportunity by senior forward Tamara Thierus. Breton found her teammate in the neutral zone and passed to Thierus who turned it over to Breton at left point. Brooks was able to respond, returning it back to Thierus who scored at 7:05 in the second finding an open slot and making it a two-nothing game.  

Harnett held onto the lead even after the Crusaders pulled their goalie, Madison Beck with a little over a minute left in the third. The Wildcats wrapped up the third unscathed and pulled out the two to nothing  victory on the road. 

The week prior UNH fell to Providence College, however, Head Coach Hilary Witt says despite the loss, they played well and were able to continue the found rhythm and bring it to their matchup against Holy Cross.  

On Saturday, the Wildcats took the home-ice advantage as they faced the Crusaders at the Whittemore Center. 

It didn’t take long for the Wildcats to get on the board as junior forward Brianna Brooks scored 1:43 into the first period. Junior defenseman Charli Kettyle passed through the neutral zone and found her teammate junior forward Nicole Kelly at the right point, allowing Kelly to gain possession of the puck and took the opportunity to rip a slap shot on target. Brooks then was able to control the rebound off Holy Cross first-year goaltender Brooke Loranger’s pads on the left and scored, putting the ‘Cats in the lead early on.  

Head coach Hilary Witt said she has confidence in their lines and seems impressed with her top line, Brooks, Kelly, and Thierus. She goes on to say they are an experienced line who work well together, and they are the ones that have continuously stepped up with offensive play.  

It didn’t take long for UNH to put the puck in the net after their first goal. Senior forward Annie Berry had her first goal of the season scoring at 10:36 in the first period. Sophomore forward Shea Verrier passed from the slot to result in the Berry power-play goal. 

The team continued to make strides throughout the game when junior defenseman Kayla Bent took another incredible scoring opportunity and made magic happen in the second period. ‘Cats had an advantage as they started the second period with a 5-on-3, took that advantage allowing Bent to score 43 seconds into the start. Graduate student Emily Pinto passed the puck to Bent who then took her first opportunity to fire a shot into the left top shelf, allowing graduate student Lauren Martin to gain possession off the rebound and pass the puck across to Bent who later received a return pass from Pinto allowing for the puck to find the back of the net making a three-nothing game.   

According to Witt, Bent has excelled tremendously with offensive play, especially on power-play goals. In comparison to last year, Witt believes they have improved on power plays and Bent has been one who has been extremely effective and has stood out during those plays.  

The team wasn’t stopping there as another scoring opportunity was followed through by graduate student Gabby Jones. At 2:11 Jones put the ‘Cats on the board for the fourth time after firing a shot into the bottom left corner making it a four-goal game for the Wildcats.  

After four unanswered goals, Holy Cross Crusaders senior forward, Sofia Smithson scored on a power-play goal at 12:54 making the score 4-1.  

Bent now leads the team in goals this season with four after scoring the power-play goal and Brooks’ goal in the first and Pinto’s assist in the second now tie them for total points this season with a total of eight; seven assists and one goal.  

Coach Witt said they need to approach next week’s game against Northeastern with confidence and consistency and she’s seen a lot of reciprocation from Brooks, Kelly, and Thierus that have allowed them to step up and excel to result in successful play. She also mentions their main priority for the rest of the season is “to be consistent and play our game while sticking to who we are and build one shift at a time”. Witt also reiterated that it is not the opponent but who we are and that’s the most important.  

UNH hopes to better their numbers as they return to action on Friday, November 4th as they will host the #7 Northeastern Huskies (8-1-1, 6-1-1) at 6 p.m.