‘Cats win in OT

Bret Belden

DURHAM, N.H. – Physical play reigned supreme in a Friday evening battle between UNH (4-2-1) and #15 Boston College (3-4), with neither team scoring in regulation. The BC attack was prevalent, forcing 28 shots on net, all of which were saved by UNH junior goalie Mike Robinson.  

BC entered play on a three-game losing streak, headlined by back-to-back losses where first-year goalie Spencer Knight gave up six goals in consecutive losses to Denver and Providence College. Knight, the 13th overall pick in the 2019 NHL draft, has struggled out of the gate but settled down Friday against the Wildcats.  

The first-year goalie recorded 23 saves and only gave up one goal, that of which decided the game.  

The first period demonstrated many of the same issues that have affected the Wildcats in 2019, puck handling being the most obvious. UNH head coach Mike Souza spoke about his team’s sloppiness in the first period. “We had 16 turnovers in the first period… We were bobbling the puck, had pucks at our feet.”  

UNH struggled to control the puck until the last four minutes of the period. Play after play the Wildcats would overshoot a pass, fumble on the receiving end of a pass, or simply send the puck directly to an Eagle’s stick.  

Not all was negative for UNH, as the defense remained stout. Senior center Liam Blackburn held down the fort, recording three of UNH’s eight blocks in the first period.  

The physical game was upped in the second period, as a few near fights broke out along with a pair of cross-checking penalties. The near breaking point came when UNH’s junior defenseman Max Gildon broke up a BC breakaway with a well-timed poke check. The BC attack did not take kindly to Gildon’s use of his stick, albeit his play was legal, yet the BC forward lunged for Gildon resulting in a mini scuffle.  

Despite two power plays, UNH was unable to net anything against BC’s effective penalty kill. Knight recorded nine saves in the period to bring his total to 13. Robinson had nine saves in the second period as well, bringing his total to 19 saves.  

The scoring opportunities continued for both sides in the third period, with BC upping their shot total to 28 and UNH’s shot total hitting 23. 

Midway through the third period, Robinson made an acrobatic save, which could only be described by the man himself. “It was just a weird play. It hit my shoulder, went straight up in the air, and I just felt it on my back rolling down, so I swung my leg out and luckily I got a piece of it and got it out of the way.” 

The ‘Cats had a lot of great scoring opportunities in the third, as the puck handling issues that plagued them in the beginning of the game dissipated.  

Yet, there was potential for disaster when Robinson went to the bench with 40 seconds remaining in the third period. He had an equipment malfunction. Robinson downplayed the situation when he explained what happened. “My skate hit against the post, so I lost my edge. I called for our equipment guy, (Brandon Guidotti), who was able to switch my skates going into overtime.” 

Souza was a little more worried when Robinson skated over, describing the anxiety that fell over the bench toward the end of the third. “(Robinson) came to the bench for an equipment repair with 40 seconds left. He said to the equipment manager ‘Don’t worry we’ll get it in overtime.’ (assistant coach Jeff Giuliano) and I looked at each other and said that’s the kiss of death, maybe a faceoff play goal.”  

Luckily for the Wildcats, Robinson retained his shutout in the final seconds of the third period.  

With 2:45 remaining in overtime, Gildon ripped a slap shot from the blue line, and sophomore forward Angus Crookshank deflected the shot past Knight, giving UNH the win. Crookshank described his game winning goal after the win. “Gildon made a great shot, it was about 16 inches off the ice which is perfect for a guy that wants to tip it. I was just trying to find open space to get my stick free, and luckily I got a stick on it and it went in.” 

This was Crookshank’s second goal of the season, and first of his three goals on the weekend.