With only five regular season games remaining, the UNH Wildcats (11-10-8, 7-7-5) are approaching a crucial weekend in regard to the Hockey East playoff picture. Coming into Durham this weekend is the Beanpot champion #12 Northeastern Huskies (19-9-1, 11-7-1).
The Wildcats are currently in eighth place in the Hockey East with 19 points. Despite their spot in the standings, UNH is only one point behind Maine and Boston University who are tied with 20 points. The fifth seed, Boston College, is also within striking distance. The Eagles currently stand with 21 points. Thus, if the Wildcats come out of this weekend with two wins they can move up multiple spots in the Hockey east.
Following a split weekend against UVM, who is currently tied with UConn for ninth in the conference, UNH is now 3-2 over their last five games. On the contrary, Northeastern is among the hottest teams in the country going 4-1 over their last five, including their Beanpot victory.
UNH was not happy with the result after splitting with both UVM and Maine, but Head Coach Mike Souza expressed his opinion on what UNH has to do in regard to their seeding in the Hockey East. “It doesn’t matter the order if which you win your hockey games, it only matters how many you have at the end of the year.”
The ‘Cats should be fresh for this game, as they had last weekend off. Senior forward Ara Nazarian is confident because of this. “We thought the break came at a great time for us. We’ve had two weeks to prepare for Northeastern and work.”
Souza acknowledged that the team is well aware of the competition they are going against this weekend. “Our guys are well aware of how dangerous Northeastern is, they are familiar with their personnel… our guys are excited to play, we’re excited to be at home. There should be a great crowd which is always an advantage for us.”
Nazarian has been having the best season of his UNH career, posting 12 goals. Nazarian has scored 33 goals over the course of his career, and he looks to add to that number this weekend.
Sophomore forward Patrick Grasso will be unavailable for the Wildcats this weekend due to injury.
Players to watch for Northeastern include junior defenseman Jeremy Davies, who leads Northeastern with 25 points and 20 assists. Sophomore forward Zach Solow leads the Huskies with 13 goals this year. Solow also has the best shooting percentage of .228. The next best on the team is junior forward John Picking, who is shooting .174.
Friday’s game will be 80’s night in the Whittemore Center Arena. In addition, the fifth piece of the UNH men’s hockey trading card set will be given out to the first 1,000 fans to enter the arena.
Come Saturday, fans will be lighting up the Whitt with lightsabers celebrating Star Wars night.