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Men's Ice Hockey: Bring on the Spartans

By Justin Loring, Sports Editor

Whatever momentum the UNH men’s hockey team gained from winning two of three games against then-No. 10 Michigan and Colorado College was offset this past weekend, losing twice to No. 6 UMass Lowell by scores of 2-0 and 8-2. Head coach Dick Umile called Friday’s loss a “disappointment,” saying he felt his team “gave them both goals.” Saturday night was a disaster for the Wildcats, with Lowell scoring four goals in the opening frame and topping off the night with three in the third period. Lowell has proven to be one of the top teams in the NCAA, with the nation’s best offense, scoring 4.29 goals per game en route to a current 5-1-1 record.

Killing in the Name

New Hampshire is one of the top penalty killing units in the country, with a percentage of 92.9 (26 successful kills in 28 attempts). Of teams that have at least 20 shorthanded attempts, they jump to No. 4 in the country. The top four teams (Harvard, Yale, Cornell and Vermont) have just one, four, eight and 19 attempts, respectively. Only Vermont has played more than two games thus far in the season.

Big Ten/Hockey East Challenge

This weekend, UNH begins a two-game homestand with Michigan State. The match up will count towards the second annual Big Ten/Hockey East Challenge. Currently, Hockey East leads the Big Ten by a score of 16-12. Teams can earn two points for a win, three points for winning on the road and one point each for a tie. Michigan State has already split a series against UMass Amherst, then lost consecutive games to Boston University and UMass Lowell. UNH has earned three points for Hockey East with a win at Michigan on Oct. 17.

Scouting the Spartans

While the Big Ten season has yet to kick off, Michigan State currently sits toward the bottom of the conference ranks with a  record of 2-4-0. Only Wisconsin (0-4-0) has a worse record. Led in scoring by Matt Berry with five goals, the Spartans are in the bottom half of the country in goals per game (2.17 goals per game). Despite the team’s offensive woes, they make up for it with the nation’s No. 11 team defense, allowing a measly 2.00 goals per game. They also sit just behind New Hampshire in penalty kill at No. 9, going 23 of 25 on the kill for 92.0 percent on the year. Junior goalie Jake Hildebrand has started all six games for the Spartans. He boasts a respectable save percentage of .921 and a goals against average of 2.02.

Freshman Phenoms

Boasting one of the nation’s largest incoming freshman classes, the young Wildcat team has been up-and-down this season. The freshman have accounted for the second most points on the team with 12 (4g, 8a), trailing the junior class (14 points; 6g, 8a). Andrew Poturalski leads the freshmen with three points, with Richard Boyd, Shane Eiserman and Warren Foegele trailing with two points each. The Wildcats have an incredibly balanced attack this season with no player recording more than four points on the year, but all but two full-time starters have recorded a point.

Follow Justin Loring on Twitter @JLo_TNH

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