By MARK GARBINO
Sophomore Shane Eiserman and freshman Marcus Vela scored three points each as the Wildcats completed a three-goal comeback to defeat St. Francis Xavier University 6-4 in Sunday night’s exhibition game at the Whittemore Center.
Trailing 4-1 in the second period, the Wildcats fought back and tied the game in the third period. Halfway through the period, junior defenseman Matias Cleland fired a shot from the point that was deflected five-hole by Eiserman, giving UNH the lead and sending the Whitt into a frenzy.
St. Francis Xavier controlled the opening ten minutes of the game and forced UNH to take two early penalties. It made the Wildcats pay on its second power play of the period, scoring the game’s first goal.
After allowing a goal and five of the first six shots of the game, the Wildcats pushed back. They were able to generate some offensive zonetime and finally beat St. Francis goalie Brandon Hope late in the period off of a Richard Boyd wrist shot.
All of the bounces seemed to go in the X-Men’s favor in the second period, and the Wildcats found themselves in a deep hole. Three straight goals propelled the X-Men to a commanding 4-1 lead halfway through the game.
Following the fourth goal, head coach Dick Umile talked to his players on the bench and stressed the importance of the game’s next goal.
“You’ve got to get the next one,” he said. “Otherwise, it’s over.”
The team responded to its coach, and was able to cut the deficit to two late in the second. Defenseman Dylan Maller carried the puck down the left side of the offensive zone, and fed a cross-ice pass to Eiserman, who fired a one-timer past Hope with just over three minutes remaining in the period. The shot totals through 40 minutes were 20-19 in favor of UNH.
Eiserman’s goal provided a much-needed confidence boost for the team as it headed into the final period.
“We knew coming into the third that there was a good chance for us to come back,” Andrew Poturalski said. “We all just played our game and stuck to the game plan, and it worked out for us.”
UNH was presented with a golden opportunity to score early in the third period, as St. Francis Xavier was assessed two penalties within three seconds. The Wildcats moved the puck quickly around the offensive zone, and generated numerous shot attempts, many of which were blocked by the defense. After almost two straight minutes of furious pressure, the Wildcats converted. Marcus Vela’s shot from the slot was blocked right to defenseman Harry Quast, who ripped a shot past a diving defenseman and into the far side of the net. UNH then trailed 4-3.
The momentum swung in the Wildcats’ favor, and just 3:17 later they buried another goal. Junior Tyler Kelleher threaded a pass to Poturalski, who snapped a shot stick-side from the right faceoff circle, beating Hope and knotting the game up at 4-4.
Eiserman’s second goal was the eventual game-winner, but Cleland tacked on a power play goal in the final two minutes to secure the victory.
The puck drops on the regular season this Friday, Oct. 10 at home vs. American International College.
Eiserman lifts ‘Cats over X-Men in marvel win
By MARK GARBINO