STORRS, Conn. — With their regular season Womens Hockey East Association championship already in the books, their spot in the NCAA tournament was a foregone conclusion.
Even so, the University of New Hampshire added a little more luster to the season Sunday by capturing its third WHEA tournament title with a 1-0 win over Providence College before 432 at UConns Freitas Ice Forum.
Sam Fabers first period tally was all the support needed by freshman goaltender Kayley Herman, who recorded 17 saves for her ninth shutout as a Wildcat.
New Hampshire, ranked No. 2 in the country, was pressed to the limit and then some by the Friars, whos only hope for a bid to the NCAAs was by beating the Wildcats and earning the WHEAs automatic slot.
I think we needed this kind of game, said Faber. Obviously it was (quite) and atmosphere with the fans, and the aggression on the ice. We struggled a little bit in the third. But of course we have Hermie, and she saved us again.
It took the Wildcats three foiled breakaways before Faber finally solved PC net minder Danielle Ciarletta (21 stops), at 16:43 of the opening period.
Faber had two of those earlier opportunities, with the first coming at 2:25, when she rolled in unabated, but was thwarted at point blank range by Ciarletta. But after teammate Courtney Birchard pilfered an errant Friar clearing attempt, Faber was set up in the slot, then swiveled to the right post before finding space between Ciarlettas pads.
Birch just made a good forecheck, said Faber, who now has 25 goals for the season. She it to me past the defenseman, and I just tried to go five-hole. For the second time. And luckily this time, I didnt get stopped.
Faber said that staying calm was the critical to having polished off this chance.
There was a little pressing, she said. But I try not to get too frustrated. I was just a little more patient.
Providence rebounded in the second stanza, and generated a handful of scoring chances.
The most dangerous of those came at 5:29, when Sarah Feldman had a clean shot from the left side, which was knocked away by Herman. Late in the period, the Friars had a power play for the final 4:12 (minus four seconds), including an extended 5-on-3 advantage.
But they were stymied by the UNH penalty killers, who allowed just three harmless shots in that span.
We hadnt had many power plays, said Providence coach Bob Deraney. Then all of a sudden they came in a row. Thats sometimes a bad thing, too, because youre using the same players over and over again. I have to give credit to UNH, because they had a strategy, and it worked.
The best chance for the Friars after that came at 8:05 of the third, when Danielle Tangredi had the left half of the net open to her. But Herman slid across and made a stellar kick save on Tangredis 15-foot slap shot.
The puck got stuck in the slot area, said Tangredi. Then I got free from my defender, then I came around. I thought Id catch Herman out of position, but she made a tremendous kick save.
Said Herman, I couldnt really see and then she kind of waited. I just got my leg out there in time. It was just a big adrenalin rush.
The Friars continued to press, but were unable to net the tying goal.