Another chapter of the Border Battle unfolded this past weekend as
the University of Maine women’s ice hockey team traveled to Durham to take on the New Hampshire Wildcats, dropping both games in the doubleheader.
After suffering the sweep, Maine dropped to 11-14-2 nationally and 7-11-2 in Hockey East. The Black Bears are currently sitting in eighth place on the conference table.
These two squads had faced off previously when the Wildcats took home a close 3-2 win in Orono on Oct. 13, 2023. The results of the first matchup proved to set the tone for the remainder of the series.
Friday’s game kicked off in promising fashion for Maine. After a scoreless first period, fourth-year captain Elise Morphy scored on a snipe from the point to put Maine on top. New Hampshire’s Shea Verrier knotted the game up ten minutes later, before the end of the second.
In the third period, first-year Ashley Kokavec tallied her fourth goal of the season to give Maine the lead with thirteen minutes left.
Unfortunately for Maine, a slew of penalties proved too much to overcome, as New Hampshire scored two power-play goals and one empty net goal to cruise to a 4-2 victory at the Whittemore Center. Verrier finished the day with two goals and two assists.
Maine returned the next day, looking to salvage one game from the season series. However, they would have a hill to climb as New Hampshire took an early lead three minutes into the game. Tamara Thierus was the goal scorer for the Wildcats.
Similarly to Friday’s tilt, Kokavec and Morphy both tallied goals, giving the Black Bears a 2-1 edge at the end of the first.
This proved to be all the scoring Maine had left in them, however, as the Wildcats once again put up three unanswered goals to wrap up a 4-2 victory, a three-game season sweep over the Black Bears and a fourth consecutive head-to-head win, dating back to last year
First-year goaltender Julia Bachetti made a total of 56 saves over the weekend.
Despite being held scoreless, Maine’s Ida Kuoppala and Anne Fredrique-Guay registered three combined assists over the weekend to keep their positions as numbers one and two, respectively, atop the conference point-scorers chart.
Kuoppala’s leadership and experience, coupled with Guay’s dynamic scoring ability, has kept Maine in games this season, but it has been a struggle at times for the Black Bears to generate offense from secondary sources.
Guay, a graduate student transfer from Norwich University, has proven to be a big boost for Maine’s offense, which lost multiple young scorers in last year’s transfer portal.
While most of the production has been coming off the sticks of the veterans, young players like Kokavec, Bachetti, Lilly Fetch and Sam Morrison, among others, have given Black Bear fans a reason for optimism when the veteran stars graduate.
Maine will look to emerge from this brief losing skid as they host Merrimack College in a doubleheader this weekend. Maine and Merrimack tied 3-3 on Jan. 20.