Fall weather may be in full effect, but it was an even colder start to Hockey East play for the UConn women’s ice hockey team (2-3-1, 1-3-0 Hockey East), who split their two-game home series against the University of New Hampshire (4-3-1, 2-1-1 Hockey East).
On Friday night, the Huskies sought to bounce back from consecutive losses last weekend in a home-and-home battle against Boston College.
In the first period, Connecticut outshot the Wildcats 11-4, knocking on the door multiple times to break the scoreless tie.
Once the second period got underway, New Hampshire went to work on offense.
Forward Brooke Hammer scored her first goal of the season two minutes into the period. The junior from Commerce Township, Michigan, whose goal ricocheted off UConn goaltender Tia Chan’s back, scored only one goal last year in 18 games, but has already found the back of the net early on this season.
With seven minutes remaining in the second period, forward Kira Juodikis took advantage of the Wildcats’ third power play and got the puck past Chan for the junior’s fifth goal of the season and her first in 19 days.
The Huskies and Wildcats each put up six shots on goal, but Chan only made four saves in the second period.
The offensive pressure favored UConn in the third period with a 10-7 shot advantage, but could not get past New Hampshire goaltender Sedona Blair. The freshman from Eden Prairie, Minnesota made 27 saves in a 2-0 shutout win.
Overall, the Huskies outshot the Wildcats 27-17, but that didn’t matter in the end on Friday night.
“Just shoot it, get past [Blair],” UConn head coach Chris Mackenzie spoke to UCTV Sports after the game. “[New Hampshire’s] goalie came up big and that’s what happens sometimes so we just have to regroup and [Saturday] is a new day.”
Saturday indeed was a new day for the Huskies, who made a change in the crease as junior Megan Warrener got her first start of the season.
Connecticut wasted no time on offense with the first goal coming six minutes into the game. Forward Christina Walker had a wide open net for her second goal of the season, set up by graduate student Coryn Tormala, who passed the puck across the crease.
The 1-0 lead for the Huskies was doubled just two minutes later as forward Ashley Allard fought in front of the net and used her strength to find the back of the net. The freshman from Ottawa, Ontario already has two goals in her young collegiate career.
In the second period, New Hampshire had a chance to cut into the Huskies’ two-goal lead on a power play. However, a blocked shot resulted in forward Megan Woodworth going on a breakaway, where she faked the shot and let senior Kathryn Stockdale score the shorthanded goal.
With a three-goal lead, UConn still kept their foot on the gas in the final frame, with senior Jada Habisch scoring the Huskies’ second shorthanded goal.
In her first start of the season, Warrener played well with 26 saves. She secured a shutout victory, with the final score being 4-0.
Mackenzie raved about his two goaltenders following the win on Saturday night. “[We] have a strong tandem of goaltenders. Tia Chan and Megan Warrener are very good and are both capable of pitching shutouts as you saw tonight.”
Connecticut didn’t have the advantage in shots, as New Hampshire outshot them 26-24.
UConn is used to New Hampshire having the upper hand. In the overall series, the Wildcats lead 46-24-5, but the Huskies have now won their first game against the Wildcats in the past nine seasons.
Despite the win on Saturday, UConn still has work to do as they’re tied for fifth place in the Hockey East standings, while New Hampshire is a game behind first place Boston College.
Connecticut will only have one game next weekend when they host Providence College on Friday night at Toscano Family Ice Forum. New Hampshire will travel to Burlington to face No. 12 Vermont next weekend.