University of New Hampshire men’s hockey (3-10-2) lost in back-to-back games against the No. 17 Providence Friars (7-5-4) over the weekend. The Wildcats were looking to stay on the winning side of things after splitting with Merrimack, but they unfortunately couldn’t grab a point in either game.
The final score didn’t tell the whole story in the first matchup, which ended in a 5-1 final.
UNH was keeping pace with Providence for most of the game. The first period went scoreless as both teams failed to convert on power play opportunities.
It didn’t take much of the second period for the scoring to start as UNH junior forward Jackson Pierson found the back of the net just 6:35 into the period. Providence didn’t trail for long as sophomore forward Jamie Engelbert scored a few minutes later; the period ended in a tie.
The Friars didn’t waste any time when trying to gain the lead in the ensuing period. Just three minutes into the third period, senior forward Greg Printz stole the puck from UNH and ripped a shot to give the Friars the 2-1 lead. They didn’t stop scoring there as just 52 seconds later, UNH gave up another goal, this time scored by first-year forward Nick Poisson.
The bleeding didn’t stop for the Wildcats as Providence continued the beatdown, adding two more goals from senior defenseman David Bunz, and sophomore forward and recent world junior gold medalist Patrick Moynihan.
The Friars outshot the Wildcats 36-27, and UNH senior goaltender Mike Robinson came up with 31 saves in this tilt.
UNH head coach Mike Souza wasn’t very pleased with his team’s third period performance and effort.
“Congrats to Providence, they were the better team,” Souza said. “It’s frustrating being tied going into the third and then come out with a loss. I thought we played pretty well until the third period. It’s a 60-minute game and we only played 40 tonight.”
UNH looked to bounce back in the double header against the Friars, but it only ended in another defeat, with the final being 3-2.
The Wildcats looked good in the first period and came out of the locker room on fire. They took an early 1-0 lead, coming from junior forward Angus Crookshank. UNH dominated the first period putting up 15 shots to Providence’s five, but were unable to extend the lead in the opening frame.
UNH got numerous chances to extend the lead on a 5-3 powerplay, but were still unable to break through again until Pierson sent a pass to senior forward Eric MacAdams who was able to wrist a shot past the Providence goaltender making it 2-0 despite being outshot 11-4 in the period.
Providence continued to fight back and ended up on a five-minute major power play. They took advantage of the power play and cut the UNH lead to one with a goal from first-year forward Brett Berard.
Providence’s offense didn’t stop there as they tied it up with a goal from junior forward Tyce Thompson. The Friars took the lead shortly after when Engelbert stole the puck from behind the UNH goal and put it in the back of the net. Robinson only made 18 saves in this contest and the Wildcats went 0-for-7 on their power play.
Souza wasn’t pleased with the major penalty his team took to give the Friars unforced momentum.
“It’s one of those huge momentum swings where if you kill it and you’re up 2-0, you probably continue with that momentum,” Souza said. “Unfortunately, for us they got one and then we turned it over… Then that third one can’t happen.”
He added, “these types of mistakes can pile up on you and they hid so many of our good efforts tonight. I thought some guys played their absolute hearts out. I thought we fought until the last whistle. Our goal is to be playing our best hockey at the end of the year, I think this was a game to build off of.”
UNH will play a home-and-home series with UMass Lowell on Feb. 5 and Feb. 6, and they will likely see a hungry and desperate Wildcat team trying to win games and collect Hockey East points.
“We’ve got to climb our way out of this, and the only way (out) is together,” Souza said.
Photo courtesy of UNH Athletics