The attention they get now might not be at quite the level it was at when the sport was first getting noticed and the 1998 Olympics were approaching. In 1996 even the New York Times did a story on the rivalry. Still at stake this weekend will be the Hockey East regular season championship and gaining a physiological edge as the winner of the league's playoffs gets an NCAA bid.
The ironic thing about this rivalry is that if you look at the all-time record you find that UNH dominates the series. They have won over sixty percent of the games. Exactly how many is up for debate. Like many things concerning the early days of women's hockey records are a little vague. Providence actually seems to credit UNH with a couple more wins then UNH takes credit for.
In those early days UNH was totally dominant in the hockey world. At one point they had a 77 game undefeated streak which ran from the beginning of the 1978 season through December 8, 1981. What made it a rivalry then was it was Providence who put the blemishes on the record. The teams tied in the 1978 season. Then Providence won the 4-2 upset victory that ended streak.
Overall, at that time, Providence played Avis to the UNH's Hertz. The end of the year saw the EAIAW championship from the 79-80 season through the 82-83 season won by UNH. Each year the runner up was Providence.
At that point the ECAC picked up sponsorship of the championship tournament which effectively was the national championship. For the next 13 years either Providence or UNH won 11 of those championships (Providence 6, UNH 5). In seven of those seasons the championship was decided by a showdown. Providence won 5 of those games.
In the short history of Hockey East these two teams have faced off in both the championship games. Again Providence has come away the victor in both.
In fifteen of the past twenty-three seasons one of these teams has ended the other's season.
Other facts on the rivalry include PC has shut out UNH 4 of the 7 times they have faced UNH in a championship game. The two programs are the only two college programs to have earned 500 wins. Going into the season long time PC coach John Marchetti and long time UNH coach Russ McCurdy were rank 1-2 in all time Division1 wins. The ultimate championship game was the 1996 championship game. Ten years later that game is still the longest college hockey game every played. The game went into 5 overtimes before UNH won 3-2.
Finally when the US won the 1998 gold medal, 11 of the 20 players were products of this rivalry. The respect they developed for each other went a long way to building the chemistry which helped the US win.
So this weekend once again the rivalry will heat up as the two teams play for position in their attempt to earn an NCAA bid.
The PC-New Hampshire Women's Hockey Rivalry
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