After last weekend’s split, the Wildcats headed back to Durham with a win under their belt, and a chance to redeem themselves after the home-opening loss to Bentley University in the week prior.
However, the struggles at home seemed to pick up right where they left off on Oct. 8. For the first time since 1997, the UNH men’s hockey team lost to the Colorado College Tigers. Patrick Grasso extended his scoring streak to three games with a goal in the first period. However, the final score was 4-3 in favor of Colorado College. For the fourth time this season, the team fell into a 2-0 deficit in the early goings. The power play woes also continued as seven chances resulted in zero goals in the loss. UNH now falls to 1-3 on the season, as well as a winless 0-2 at the Whittemore Center.
“[We knew] specialty situations would be important. We give up two shorthanded goals [on] two shots and we’re down 2-0. We are getting tired of that show,” head coach Dick Umile said following the loss. “Very disappointing with the specialty situations for sure.”
“They capitalized on their power plays and we didn’t,” Michael McNicholas said. “That’s definitely something we need to work on here going into the future.”
The Tigers’ first two shots of the game resulted in goals, both on the short hand. Gregg Burmaster found a lane in transition and squeaked one past Wildcat goaltender Danny Tirone to secure the 1-0 lead. Minutes later, Tigers’ captain Sam Rothstein took a shot off a short-handed rush that found the top corner of Tirone’s net, and the Wildcats found themselves down 2-0 with only five minutes gone in the first period.
As Umile put it, “It’s pathetic to be quite honest with you.” The Wildcats only frame of time in which they held the lead was during the final minutes in the win over Clarkson. They did not lead at any point during Saturday’s contest vs. the Tigers.
After the two-goal burst, UNH found themselves on the board. Grasso crashed goaltender Derek Shatzer’s net for a rebound chance that slid past the goal line, resulting in Grasso’s fourth goal of the season, which leads the team.
Though the ‘Cats could not capitalize on their power play chances, the Tigers did. A slashing penalty on Jason Salvaggio resulted in a power play tally for Nick Halloran to extend the lead 3-1. However, Salvaggio redeemed himself, ironically on the penalty kill. In transition, Salvaggio entered the offensive zone and ripped a low shot on Shatzer that gave the Wildcats some life, and put the deficit back to one at 3-2.
McNicholas returned to the starting lineup after being absent from the first three games and instantly made an impact. McNicholas tied the game at three for UNH with an even strength goal at 9:20 in the second period off a cross-ice feed from Dylan Maller.
The tie would not last long however. Halloran scored his second power play goal of the evening on the team’s fifth chance overall. Halloran’s goal was ultimately the deciding one as nine third period shots could not break Shatzer’s wall. The Tigers secured the 4-3 win, improving their record to 2-4 overall.
“We got to get the first [goal], no more excuses,” Salvaggio said. “Playing from behind is tough, chasing a lead is hard. We need that lead.”
With the start of the Hockey East campaign beginning this weekend vs. UMass Amherst and Merrimack College, one thing remains clear: the habit of falling behind early in games needs to be broken.
“[Falling behind] is getting old for us, there’s no excuses for it,” Umile said, expressing that the play needs to change moving forward.
The Wildcats will open up Hockey East conference play this weekend. They travel to Amherst, Massachusetts to take on the Minutemen on Friday, Oct. 28 before returning to the Whittemore Center the following night to take on Merrimack.