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Curtis in the clutch









With the game on the line, head coach Hilary Witt looked to a familiar face in senior forward Jonna Curtis, but it wasn’t the ideal situation.

Trailing 3-2 on the road against Vermont on Friday night, the ‘Cats were desperate to stay close with the Catamounts in Hockey East standings.

With less than two minutes to play, UNH was shorthanded and on the verge of losing the game. Curtis made a historic play to save the game for UNH.

Junior Julia Fedeski dished the puck from deep in UNH’s defensive zone to a speeding Carlee Toews who found Curtis in the neutral zone for a breakaway down the left wing with the game on her stick.

Curtis finished sliding the puck in the back of the net for her 17th goal of the season and 50th of her career to end Friday’s tout in a 3-3 tie.

“I thought we played a good game,” Witt said. “We were down by two twice and battled back. I really liked our resilience and fight. It was a well earned point.”

That point, which kept UNH and Vermont neck-and-neck in the standings at the time, was made possible by the efforts of the ‘Cats’ top weapon in Curtis.

“It was great for [Curtis] and her personal success,” said Witt on Curtis’ milestone goal. “But for us in the game, it was a shorthanded goal with under five minutes to go and tie it – that’s just what she does. She’s a very good hockey player and makes big plays for us.”

Unfortunately for the ‘Cats on Saturday while finishing up a two-game series at Vermont, Curtis couldn’t prevent a 3-1 loss, leaving UNH in a three-way tie for fourth in the Hockey East standings.

Saturday’s loss bumps Vermont up to third in Hockey East standing with 22 points, while UNH is tied at 20 points in fourth with Providence College and Boston University.

“I thought we played great,” said Witt. “Their goalie played phenomenal, give her credit. She’s the star of the game. She stopped everything except for one. We had a lot of shots – quality shots, quality chances. She just had a great game today.”

The Catamounts’ goaltender, Madison Litchfield, indeed had a game Saturday night. Litchfield had nearly shut the Wildcats out until Jenna Rheault ended the drought at 14:07 of the third period.

Rheault netted her second goal of the season while posting UNH’s lone goal on Saturday. Her only other goal came back in late October, also against Vermont.

UNH’s downfall occurred in the second period, allowing two goals in 16 seconds. UNH goaltender Kyra Smith allowed all three goals on just 4 faced shots.

Moving on, UNH has just four games left on the season for a chance at the playoffs. For coach Witt, it’s only positive thinking.

“If we play the way we played [Saturday] and get a couple more stops, we’re going to be successful,” she said.

UNH will next play Friday night at 7 p.m. at the Whittemore Center for senior night against Boston University.

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