Campus Currents

Wait 'til Next Year
Women's ice hockey sets records but wants more

Katie Wright, Jen Hitchcock SCORE CORPS: Sophomores Sadie Wright Ward '08, left, and Jen Hitchcock '08, No. 3 and No. 1 in scoring in the nation, celebrate during a game against Harvard

For the first time in UNH history, the Wildcat women's ice hockey team ranked the number-one seed in March going into the NCAA playoffs.

And despite a heartbreaking 5-4 loss to two-time defending champion Minnesota in the NCAA Frozen Four, coach Brian McCloskey says the game was one of the most exciting games he has seen in his 25-year career—and the experience the team gained was invaluable.

The 'Cats earned their first Hockey East Championship title, an NCAA single-season record for an unbeaten streak (29 games) and an NCAA record for a winning streak (17 games). They ended 33-3-1, a UNH record.

Captain Lindsay Hansen '06 attributes the team's accomplishments to preparation. "We have really prepared for every game we have come to play, and the coaches have done their homework," she says.

For its first two decades, UNH women's ice hockey was unrivaled, but as the national pool of talented women players grew, other teams became competitive, and by the 2000-'01 season the team lost as many games as it won. Erin Whitten Hamlen '93, assistant coach, says McCloskey has helped bring the program back to where it should be. "Brian has such a great grasp on the game and knows how to handle any situation," she says. McCloskey is in his fourth season with the Wildcat women; earlier he spent more than 10 years as the top assistant and recruiting coordinator with the UNH men's hockey team.

Getting to the Frozen Four has helped the team's younger players develop an appetite for the taste of victory as they prepare for next season, says Hamlen. And McCloskey says the spirit, determination and knowledge that emerged from the team's defeat in Minnesota will serve them well as they prepare for the 2006-'07 season.

"I have no doubt that this group will make the necessary sacrifices in the off-season to take the program to a higher level," McCloskey says. "This Wildcats women's team raised the bar with their record-breaking season. I have a keen sense that the team has every intention of finishing what it started."

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