DURHAM – Meghara McManus couldn’t have read the play any better.
With about nine minutes remaining in the third period of Saturday’s non-conference women’s ice hockey game between the University of New Hampshire (6-9-4) and Harvard (4-6-2), the Wildcats’ junior right wing broke for the blue line of her team’s defensive zone anticipating a Crimson pass.
Sure enough, there it was. Already in stride, McManus intercepted the puck and took off down the ice all alone, where she would eventually fire a shot that deflected off Harvard goal keeper Lindsay Reed and into the back of the net to pull UNH even at 2-2. The Crimson were unable to answer back, and after a scoreless overtime period, the teams were forced to settle on a draw.
“I just saw the pass coming across and picked it off,” McManus said. “I had a move in my mind to fake right and go left and I was lucky enough to have it trickle into the back of the net.”
McManus was actually responsible for both of her team’s goals despite ranking fifth on the team in shots. Of the 68 the Wildcats fired at the net over the course of the game, McManus was responsible for just four of those attempts. It was her efficiency that made all the difference, though, and after Harvard’s Maryna MacDonald (2:55) opened up the scoring in the first period, McManus tied the game at a goal apiece five minutes into the second, cashing in on a scramble in front of the net. The tie was short-lived, with Harvard’s Kristin Della Revere putting the Crimson ahead, 2-1, just four minutes later, allowing them to take a one-goal lead into the third.
Unfortunately, there was a scary moment both teams had to deal with in that final period when Harvard’s MacDonald collided with UNH’s Paige Rynne along the boards. MacDonald was unable to leave the ice under her own power as medical officials took her off on a stretcher. According to the UNH Sports Information Department, Harvard coach Katey Stone later emailed the team to say MacDonald was doing fine and was going to be OK.
“In those situations, you just have to tell the kids to keep playing,” UNH coach Hilary Witt said. “It’s hard but you just have to grind it out and finish the game. It’s hard for both teams and I thought both teams did a good job of just continuing to play.”
With McManus securing the tie for UNH in the third period, the Wildcats now move to 5-0-2 in their last seven games. The team continues to be aggressive going towards the net and looks to fire off as many shots on goal as it possibly can. UNH had 20 more shots on goal than Harvard.
“We’ve tried to be more aggressive and take better shots,” Witt said. “We’ve had more bodies going to the net, stopping at the net, and doing some more of the fundamentals a little better. I think that’s helped us. We just keep grinding it out and I give our kids a lot of credit. We were 1-9 at one point and now we’re 6-9-4. To go seven in a row without losing after starting off the way we did, you’ve got to give a lot of credit to the character of our players.”
They also seem to be doing a better job of preventing teams from getting shots off on their net. Wildcats goalie Kyra Smith (18 saves) saw just 20 shots come here way and finished with a 90 percent save percentage. Harvard goalie Lindsay Reed stopped 38 shots.
It was the last game before the Christmas break for UNH. The Wildcats will try to keep their streak alive when they host Boston College on Jan. 5.