The UNH men’s hockey team displayed grit and skill en route to its 3-1 win against the University of New Brunswick on Sunday. This exhibition match provided an opportunity to sharpen the skates, as well as the mind as the team prepares for their first regular season game and home opener in less than a week’s time.
Junior goaltender Adam Clark got the start in net, while Cameron Marks and Matias Cleland made up the starting defenders. Jason Salvaggio, Ara Nazarian and Tyler Kelleher were the starting forwards.
The game got off to a fast and physical start with plenty of hits being thrown around. This complimented the vast amount of penalties accumulated by both teams throughout the night, with UNH committing nine and UNB with 13. Both teams were able to exercise the power play units as all goals scored on the night were on the power play.
“I thought [the power play] was alright,” senior forward Tyler Kelleher said. “I was starting to get more and more comfortable up at the point. I thought our whole team was moving the puck well.”
Kelleher was able to show off his puck handling skills and speed as he carried the puck into the offensive zone numerous times in the first period, allowing for a couple of quality scoring chances thereafter. Both teams were scoreless after the first period, with Clark making seven saves.
The first goal was not scored until 2:46 into the second period. Ara Nazarian buried a one-timer with the assist from Tyler Kelleher and Patrick Grasso during the power play. The friendly battle of the goaltenders began tonight between juniors Danny Tirone and Adam Clark as they split even time in net and performed well. Clark finished his night allowing no goals with 13 saves, while Tirone made 11 saves with one goal allowed.
Things got nasty in the second period when UNB’s Mike Thomas hit sophomore Marcus Vela into the boards. A small scrum ensued as a result between teams, resulting in multiple penalties for both sides. Thomas, as well as captain Cleland, were given a game misconducts in the aftermath. Vela left the ice following the hit and did not return to the game.
“Right now it’s probably a concussion…so he’s probably going to be out for a couple of weeks,” head coach Dick Umile said.
UNH finished the second period with 11 shots on goal to UNB’s nine. Freshman Liam Blackburn was able to score the second goal during that period and was assisted by Brendan van Riemsdyk and Matt Dawson. The ‘Cats third and final goal came early in the third period thanks to the work of Blackburn and van Riemsdyk assisting junior Shane Eiserman’s tally. Eiserman used his massive frame to park himself in front of the net on the power play and slammed in the puck off a nice pass.
“He’s a big strong guy and that’s what he does, that’s what we want him to do. We stick him down in front right there and they can’t move him. Get the puck on his stick and he’s got a very good shot at it,” head coach Dick Umile said.
The ‘Cats shutout wouldn’t last as UNB’s Randy Gazzola was able to place one past Tirone 8:33 into the third. He streaked down the left side of the zone and buried the one timer on a power play. With both goaltenders posting a solid performance, it could be interesting to see how both of them are used as the season progresses.
The ‘Cats open the regular season with their home opener next weekend on Saturday, Oct. 8 at 7 p.m. in the Whittemore Center vs. Bentley University.