Following a shutout performance from junior goalie Mike Robinson, the UNH men’s hockey team continued their defensive success in a 1-1 tie against No. 7 UMass Amherst. Entering Saturday’s game, UNH ranked 31st in the country in penalty kill percentage (.833) oppose to UMass, who stood at eighth in the country (.938).
UNH got the scoring started courtesy of a Charlie Kelleher slap shot from the left face-off circlet that snuck past sophomore goalie Filip Lindberg. The junior forward converted his sixth goal of the season on UNH’s first power play of the night, after UMass’s first-year forward Jeremy Davidson was issued a two-minute minor for slashing.
This was Kelleher’s first goal since December 8’s 5-2 victory against Merrimack. The goal was good for his team leading 22nd point.
At the end of the first period Robinson tallied seven saves in a period that held a lot of action in front of his net.
UMass had a few possessions that seemed to be never ending, resulting in them taking the lead in the shots battle. UMass ended up outshooting UNH 29-19 Saturday.
The penalty kill played a big role in Saturday’s bid, as UNH was successful on all eight of their penalty kills, four of which came in the third period. UNH head coach Mike Souza was pleased with his team’s effort of the penalty kill. “The players executed this weekend, and it was good to get (a goal) on the power play too.”
Robinson came close to making it a historic weekend, as the last time a UNH goalie recorded back-to-back shutouts was in 2012 when Casey DeSmith did so against Maine and UVM. DeSmith actually had three consecutive shutouts, recording the third against UMass Lowell.
The hopes for that accomplishment faded when UMass’s senior forward Jack Suter tied the game on a breakaway goal that found the upper stick side of the net. This was Suter’s third goal of the season.
Robinson recorded 31 saves on Friday at UMass and recorded 26 saves at home on Saturday.
The Wildcats gained three points this weekend, moving them into a sixth-place tie with Northeastern (13-7-2, 7-6-1 HEA) in a tight-knit Hockey East. Souza commented on how competitive the Hockey East has been this season. “I know it’s tight usually but this one is really unique,” he said. “I think there is parody everywhere in hockey, but I’m happy in a way for our league. It’s nice to see a lot of teams vying to get into the NCAA tournament.”
Sophomore defenseman Ryan Verrier spoke on the importance of the penalty kill approaching UNH vs. UConn. “Special teams are huge for us. Five on five is the toughest way to score goal.” UNH currently stands at 53rd in the nation in penalty kill percentage (.758) and 24th in power play percentage (.202).
UNH continues play next weekend with a home-and-home against UConn (9-12-4, 6-7-2 HEA). Friday’s game will be in the Whittemore center with a 7:00 p.m. puck drop, and Saturday’s game will have a 4:00 p.m. puck drop at the XL Center in Hartford, Conn.