In their trip to Belfast, Northern Ireland, the UNH men’s hockey team (7-6-1, 3-4-0) participated in the Friendship Four and fell to No. 12 Northeastern (10-4-2, 6-3-1) and defeated Princeton (1-6-3). The other team competing in Belfast was Colgate (5-7-4).
The ‘Cats fell 4-0 to the reigning Hockey East champions, the Northeastern Huskies, in the first game of the Friendship Four. This was their first matchup with former Wildcat, fifth-year forward Brendan van Riemsdyk. Van Riemsdyk has not made much noise as a Huskie, having scored only one goal this season in a 3-6 loss to UMass Amherst. Van Riemsdyk recorded 44 points in his three years at UNH with 20 goals and 24 assists in 106 games.
The Wildcats were able to sustain a scoreless first period, but the UNH defense deteriorated in the final two periods.
Despite outshooting Northeastern 11-8 in the second period, it was the Huskies that were able to net two goals in the period. The first of which was a wrist shot by senior defenseman Ryan Shea, his first of the season. Shea scored his second goal of the season in their next game against Colgate, that they won 4-3.
The second Northeastern goal came from junior forward Zach Solow on a tip-in off a shot from Shea. That was Solow’s fifth goal of the season.
In the third period, Northeastern struck again with first-year forward T.J. Walsh’s second goal of the season. Walsh sent a loose in front of the goal to the glove side of the net seven minutes into the period.
Three minutes later, senior forward John Picking extended the Northeastern lead to 4-0 after tipping in a slap shot from sophomore forward Tyler Madden. UNH’s junior goaltender Mike Robinson recorded 21 saves and gave up four goals. Northeastern’s fifth year goaltender Craig Pantano recorded 25 saves in his first shutout of the season.
In Saturday’s bid against Princeton, UNH pulled out a 3-2 win off a game winning goal from sophomore forward Filip Engaras.
UNH jumped out to a quick lead with senior forward Liam Blackburn’s first goal of the season. Blackburn converted the goal off an assist from junior forward Eric MacAdams who dished a from the right side of the net to Blackburn who was positioned directly in front of a wide-open net.
With two minutes remaining in the first period, Princeton’s sophomore forward Christian O’Neill tied the game at one. UNH controlled the first period, outshooting the Tigers 15-4.
Four minutes into the second period, Princeton’s senior defenseman Derek Topatigh gave his team the lead on a power play goal.
Eight minutes into the fourth period, Blackburn netted his second score of the game and season. Blackburn drifted toward the net and ripped a shot to the lower glove side of the net, assisted by MacAdams and junior defenseman Max Gildon. Last season, Blackburn scored 10 goals and shot .139 on the season. This year, he is shooting .077 and was yet to score a goal until Saturday.
UNH head coach Mike Souza expressed the sense of relief that came from Blackburn’s performance. “That was a huge relief for him. I’m very happy for him to score two huge goals for us, and hopefully that leads to more production. It takes the pressure off of everyone, the more guys you have going.”
A minute later, Engaras scored what would be the game winning goal off an assist from junior forwards Kohei Sato and Charlie Kelleher. Sato ripped a shot to the net that was saved, and Engaras tipped it in past the Princeton goalie.
UNH continues play Friday Dec. 6 for a home game against Merrimack (3-9-2, 1-4-2). On Saturday, both teams will head to North Andover for a bid on Merrimack’s home ice.