Women’s hockey swept by New Hampshire after 2-1 loss

Juliana Nikac

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Photo: Liz Flynn

Photo: Liz Flynn

The Quinnipiac women’s ice hockey team (13-13-2 overall, 9-7-0 ECAC Hockey) fell to the University of New Hampshire Wildcats (13-10-6 overall, 8-7-4 Hockey East) on Saturday afternoon, 2-1.

“This weekend is an important weekend for us, a lot of things that we need to be better with in order for us to accomplish what we want in the ECAC,” head coach Cassandra Turner said after the game. Heading into the game, one of those things Quinnipiac needed to be better with was their power play, and they got it going around nine minutes into the game.

After both teams seemed to be cautious at first, Quinnipiac was given a power play thanks to a bodychecking minor. The powerplay started out shaky until the puck hit Kate MacKenzie’s stick. After Anna Kilponen fed her from the top of the offensive zone, MacKenzie fired a rocket that Wildcats goaltender Ava Boutilier couldn’t stop, and the Bobcats took a 1-0 lead.

“The puck just came to me, and being able to utilize my one-timer sometimes is good, and I had a good screen in front,” MacKenzie said about her third goal this season.

Despite the early strike, UNH took over the game with an increasingly aggressive style of play. Just minutes later, the Wildcats were rewarded when Devan Taylor ripped home a loose puck in front of the net for the tying goal. Most of the work on the play was done by Taylor Wenczkowski, and she was credited with the assist. After scoring the first goal, the Bobcats seemed taken aback by UNH’s aggressive counterattack. However, despite sloppy overall play, two Wildcat shots hitting the post, and a brutal power play to end the period, the Bobcats went to the locker room still tied at one.

The second frame started as the first one ended, with UNH looking far superior to their Bobcat counterparts, and it only took 40 seconds for their dominance to finally register on the scoreboard. Kate Haslett put a second puck past Quinnipiac goaltender Allison Small, and the Wildcats took their first lead of the game. Once they got into a hole, Quinnipiac finally had a solid stretch of puck control, but they still struggled to find chances.

The woman responsible for stopping those chances, Ava Boutilier, did not have a lot of hard work for long stretches in this game, thanks to an aggressive defense in front of her. Small, on the other hand, faced constant pressure all afternoon, and she finished up with an impressive 35 saves.

“I thought she worked into the game,” Turner noted, adding that Small “started to really gain some composure and made some good plays for us.”

After the exciting start to the period, the action died down, and UNH took their 2-1 advantage into the third.

Each team looked revitalized to open the final period, and there were higher quality chances for both squads. Small was forced to play big once again, as a close-range blocker save highlighted a flurry of stops early in the third to keep Quinnipiac in the game. After playing relaxed for the first part of the third, the Bobcats finally went for broke in the last 10 minutes of the game. Quinnipiac started to make made more aggressive plays with the puck, pinched defensively, and forced countless turnovers. UNH struggled to even get the puck out of their zone as the pressure mounted.

Two glorious Bobcat opportunities would be the story of the game’s conclusion. With four minutes left, Quinnipiac’s Alicia Barry was left all alone in the slot, but her slap shot went right into Boutilier’s chest. With about a minute left, Barry got yet another chance, but it rang off the outside of the post.

“I’m gonna think about that for a long time,” Barry said.

Quinnipiac never got another quality chance after committing a late penalty, and the Wildcats hung on for the one-goal victory. UNH outshot Quinnipiac 37-28 en route to the win.

Up next for Quinnipiac is a matchup at Rensselaer on Saturday (8-15-5 overall, 5-9-2 ECAC Hockey).