As the tension grows in the final stretch of the season, the Wildcats started out their bid against fourth place UMass Lowell by handing them a pair of early power plays.
Despite being listed as doubtful at Wednesday’s press conference, junior wing Charlie Kelleher suited up and played minimal minutes on UNH’s second line.
Luckily for the ‘Cats, the tripping penalties from junior defenseman Max Gildon and sophomore wing Joey Cipollone resulted in two successful penalty kills thanks to strong goaltending from junior Mike Robinson.
The UNH offense struggled to gain momentum in the period, only amounting three shots on net; they didn’t register a shot on net until 6:30 in the first.
UML struck first with a tip-in goal from sophomore fourth-line wing Sam Knoblauch, his second of the season.
Soon after, UNH was on the power play and sophomore center Filip Engaras scored his eighth goal of the season on a one timer courtesy of sophomore center Jackson Pierson and Gildon.
The Wildcats rode the momentum from the end of the first into the second, outshooting the River Hawks 15-5.
UNH almost scored midway through the period, as Pierson swiped across the offensive zone and ripped one to stick side of the net only to be stopped by a diving leg save from Wall.
Soon after, sophomore wing Eric Esposito cashed in his fourth goal of the season on an unassisted breakaway where he outpaced the entire UML defense.
The third period was uneventful for the first 17 minutes, until UNH committed what was at the time the worst penalty of the season with a hooking penalty on the captain, senior defenseman Anthony Wyse.
Soon into the power play UML’s sophomore defenseman scored the equalizing goal, eventually sending the game into overtime where neither team scored. UNH head coach Mike Souza explained the late goal. “We had a chance to clear the puck and we didn’t, we had a chance to block the shot and we didn’t. At that time in the game, you have to make those plays,” he said. “We didn’t, and we paid the price for it.”
UNH exited the Tsongas Center with one point, but with the way it happened the tie felt closer to a loss. Esposito touched on the result after the game. “It’s definitely disappointing to not come out with a win,” he said. “We all thought we deserved to come out with two points.”