It was a tale of two third periods. On Saturday, Nov. 12, the fans saw a monumental third-period collapse, resulting in one of the most shocking losses at the Whittemore Center in recent history, a 5-4 loss to the Arizona State Sun Devils. The following night, the Wildcats generated a strong rally in the third frame, and pushed the Merrimack College Warriors to a 3-3 tie in overtime.
On Saturday, UNH let up three unanswered goals, two in the third period, that resulted in a loss to a team that was previously 1-8 overall. However, the ‘Cats bounced back on Sunday. They salvaged a point in the Hockey East standings with a 3-3 tie against the Warriors. Jason Salvaggio’s game-tying goal came with the goalie pulled and an extra attacker, the second time UNH has scored with the extra attacker this season.
Friday night’s game against the Sun Devils ended in controversy. Brinson Pasichnuk potted the game-winner for the Sun Devils 0:56 into the overtime frame. Liam Blackburn was injured during the sequence and UNH was looking for a whistle to be blown prior to the goal being scored. The goal ultimately stood and UNH dropped the game to Arizona State in overtime.
“We were looking for something, some kind of call, but [the officials] didn’t see it,” head coach Dick Umile said. “He was down and [Arizona State] had posession so they didn’t blow the whistle.”
“He went down and the [official] didn’t call that. There was something else that happened too and they didn’t blow it, but it is what it is,” junior forward Michael McNicholas said.
Brendan van Riemsdyk scored his first career goal as a Wildcat at 15:54 in the second period as he gave the Wildcats a 2-1 lead. McNicholas and Shane Eiserman added to his efforts to propel the Wildcats to a 4-2 lead 2:36 into the third period. Ultimately, the Wildcats could not hang on. Jordan Masters, Jakob Stridsberg and Pasichnuk sealed the second victory of the season for the Sun Devils, their first in program history over the Wildcats.
McNicholas mentioned blocked shots as a focal point in addressing the problems in Friday’s loss.
“It just comes with hard work. I think blocking shots late in the third, that’s key,” McNicholas said. “That just can’t happen and we gotta wear some pucks here at the end.”
On Sunday night, the Wildcats rallied in the third period to push Merrimack to a 3-3 tie in overtime, Salvaggio’s game-tying goal at 19:12 was his fifth goal of the season.
“Coach drew up a play, we pulled the goalie it was desperate times,” Salvaggio said. “[Matias Cleland] made a nice pass to [Tyler Kelleher] and Kelleher just put it on a platter for me so thanks to him.”
Saturday night the Wildcats collapsed in the third frame, Sunday was the opposite, they thrived. Salvaggio’s goal was set up by McNicholas’ second goal of the afternoon on the powerplay at 16:57 in the second period, and the Wildcats shut down the Warriors’ offense in the third. Merrimack was held to seven shots offensively in the third period, as opposed to UNH’s 11. Danny Tirone saved all seven, including 28 saves overall. The tie gives the the Wildcats their fifth point to go toward the Hockey East standings.
“I gave them credit for battling back in the third period,” Umile said. “The third period we had some chances and we pulled out an important point and I told them that might mean an awful lot down the road here.”
The Wildcats conclude the weekend with a 4-5-2 overall record, and a 2-1-1 record in Hockey East. They play another game of their four-game home stretch with another Hockey East matchup vs. the UMass Minutemen on Friday, Nov. 18 at the Whittemore Center. Puck drop is 7 p.m.