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College Hockey:
Hitchcock, Gilligan help lift New Hampshire over Quinnipiac

— New Hampshire defeated Quinnipiac 5-2 Tuesday night on the strength of two goals from Jessica Hitchcock and 30 saves from goaltender Jenn Gilligan for her second win of the season.

UNH coach Brian McCloskey was impressed with his netminder.

“[Jenn has] just been very solid in net,” McCloskey said. “We’ve given her the mantle the last two games and she has controlled play around the net. She was just on.”

UNH jumped out to a quick 1-0 lead just 34 seconds into the first period on Hitchcock’s fourth goal of the season. Hannah Armstrong dumped the puck off to Hitchcock, who gained the line on the near side. Hitchcock looped down below the right circle and made a move to the net where she went five hole to beat Quinnipiac goalie Victoria Vigilanti.

“It obviously helped us out a lot to get out quick in the game and I think it kind of caught them off guard scoring in the first minute like that,” Hitchcock said.

The Bobcats answered back five minutes later on Nicole Kosta’s eighth goal of the season. Cydney Roesler’s blast from the point was kicked away by Gilligan, but the rebound went right to Kosta at the left circle. Kosta picked her spot and wristed a shot under Gilligan’s left leg pad.

UNH regained the lead with 2:26 left in the opening period. After Quinnipiac’s Kelly Babstock fanned on a shot in the slot, UNH quickly transitioned the other way. Katie Brock found Kristina Lavoie in the neutral zone where she skated up the left wing. Lavoie streaked to the slot and put a backhander past Vigilanti’s glove.

The Wildcats extended their lead with just 8.2 seconds left in the first period. UNH won the draw at the right circle and quickly put a shot on net. Vigilanti made the first stop, but couldn’t cover the rebound. Hitchcock swiped at the rebound and batted it through Vigilanti’s pads for the 3-1 lead.

“To be honest, I am not sure how some of them went in, but we strive to go hard to the net and that’s what we did tonight,” Hitchcock said.

After three goals in the first period, Quinnipiac head coach Rick Seeley pulled Vigilanti for sophomore Chelsea Laden.

“It’s tough to go on the road against a team like UNH and give up three goals on seven shots in the first period,” Seeley noted. “Overall, I was really proud about how they played, but we have to get tighter in net.”

The Bobcats cut into UNH’s lead 5:42 into the second period. Brittany Lyons picked up the puck in the neutral zone and rushed in with Anna Borgfeldt on a two-on-one. Lyons skated into the left circle and sniped a shot into the top left corner of the net.

UNH added two more goals, both of them on the power play.

UNH regained its two-goal lead with 4:10 left in the middle frame. After QU’s Shelby Wignall went to the box for hooking, the Wildcats went on the advantage. Just 10 seconds into the power play, Kristine Horn wristed a shot from the left circle past Laden for the 4-2 lead.

The Wildcats added one more in the third on the power play. Hitchcock was set up to score her third goal of the game until Laden laid out to cut off the angle. With Laden still lying on the ice, the puck came to the far side where Nicole Gifford put the puck into the vacant net.

“Both groups played well tonight and both groups scored tonight,” McCloskey said about the power-play units. “That was the difference tonight because [Quinnipiac] had four power plays and didn’t score.”

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