The UNH men’s hockey team (9-8-8, 5-5-5) set off for a weekend series with the UCONN Huskies (7-16-2, 2-11-2). In Friday’s game, the teams tied 2-2 in Hartford, Conn.
Come Saturday’s game, the tides changed as UNH gathered together and defeated the Huskies 6-0. A well-rounded team effort, each goal was scored by a different Wildcat and there were plenty of assists across the board. To cap that off, the defense and goaltending were stellar thus resulting in a shutout effort.
In a scoreless first period, the Wildcats got off to an aggressive start as they pounded the puck into the Huskies zone fresh off of the face-off. The Wildcats had a lot of opportunities to score throughout the period, although they managed to lose the puck in front of the net a handful of times along with hitting the puck off the bar twice.
Despite winning the time of possession battle, the Huskies outshot the ‘Cats 16-7 in the first period.
UNH began the second period with a power play due to a late tripping penalty on UCONN’s senior defenseman Miles Gendron.
The ‘Cats capitalized with a power play goal at 1:09 in the second period. The goal was scored by sophomore right wing Charlie Kelleher. On the assist were senior left-wing Ara Nazarian and sophomore defenseman Max Gildon.
The Wildcats scored again on the ensuing faceoff with a breakaway goal from junior left-wing Brendan van Riemsdyk, his seventh of the season.
Junior center Liam Blackburn converted the third goal of the period assisted by first year left wing Angus Crookshank. This was Blackburn’s team-leading 10th goal of the season.
UNH sophomore goalie Mike Robinson was penalized for goalie interference following the goal, thus resulting in first-year goalie Ty Taylor entering the game during the penalty.
Through the second period UCONN goalie Adam Husk recorded only 15 saves on 18 shots on goal. On the other hand, UNH’s Robinson has been stellar. He recorded an astonishing 27 saves at the end of the second. Robinsons effort in this outing infused momentum into the Wildcat offense with both his saves and leadership.
Coach Mike Souza’s focus was on the team’s effort tonight, yet he did acknowledge his goalie’s strong performance. “We were able to stay in the game because Mike [Robinson] was solid.”
Souza felt good after the game. He was especially appreciative of the crowd at the Whittemore center. “It was a great atmosphere in the rink tonight, our extended team across the street did a great job.”
At 6:28 in the third period Crookshank ripped a wrist shot from directly in front of the net to extend the lead to 4-0. This was his ninth goal on the season.
Sophomore right wing Patrick Grasso extended the Wildcats lead to five with a slapshot goal at 10:14 in the third period. This was his sixth goal of the season. On the assist was Nazarian.
Sophomore right wing Joe Sacco continued the beatdown with a goal from the left side at 17:10 in the third period to extend the lead to 6-0. This was his first goal of the season. On the assist was senior center Frankie Cefalu.
Robinson had one of his best performances of the season with a season-high 36 saves in a shutout effort, his third of the season. After facing a strong attack from UCONN early in the game, Robinson was able to see the puck early and quickly got into a groove. Robinson commented on his locked-in start. “Whenever I see a puck early in a game and get a feel for it early, it’s always good.”
This upcoming weekend is a big one for the ‘Cats, as Maine will come to Durham on Friday for the “White out the Whit” double header. A former UNH player, Coach Souza is especially excited for this upcoming weekend’s games. “I’m biased, I think this is the best place in the country to be a player. I was fortunate enough to play here and I want our players to experience the rink like it was tonight… the students being here makes playing at UNH special.”
White out the Whit is among the biggest weekends of the season, and the team is counting on the fans to come out and support them. The ‘Cats have been playing some stellar hockey of late, so make sure to come to the Whit on Friday and/or Saturday at 7:00 pm.