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Late-game struggles trouble ‘Cats

Hockey, at the very least, is a 60-minute game. The Wildcats were painfully reminded of that based on the results of this weekend.

In a home-and-home series against the No. 4 Boston University Terriers, UNH’s inefficiency in the third regulation period cost them crucial points within the Hockey East standings. Friday’s 4-4 tie was a result of a two-goal third period from BU to force overtime. The following night was a disastrous third-period collapse as the ‘Cats fell at the Whittemore Center to the Terriers 8-4.

Despite scoring first in both contests, the ‘Cats’ inability to finish was the glaring problem of the weekend.

“It was a heck of a game and we had a chance to win it but we couldn’t get it done,” head coach Dick Umile said of his teams disappointing finish. “[Had a] 4-2 lead and we didn’t get it done.”

Senior forward and Hobey Baker award nominee Tyler Kelleher led the charge for the ‘Cats on the weekend with a 6-point performance. Kelleher’s efforts now put him atop the leaderboard of the nation’s leading point scorer with 57 points. Despite Kelleher’s efforts, the team came out with only a single point in the conference standings, putting them at No. 8 with a chance to fluctuate next weekend.

Friday’s game seemed to be in the Wildcats favor, as in UNH was taking it to one of the top teams in the country. The Wildcats jumped out to an early two-goal lead when Michael McNicholas and Ara Nazarian both buried one past goaltender Jake Oettinger and the ‘Cats were rolling. Although regaining the tie score at two were the Terriers, the Wildcats surged again with Dylan Chanter, who scored his first career goal in 42 games played, and Kelleher reclaiming the two-goal edge at 19:20 in the second period.

Jason Salvaggio takes a shot in Saturday’s loss to BU. Salvaggio had two goals in the loss.

BU found life again in the third, while only registering six shots on goal in the third period. Terrier standouts Charlie MacAvoy and Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson secured the 4-4 tie with under five minutes to go in the game and thus forcing the draw. As Umile explains, the ‘Cats had it won but let the opportunity slip through their fingers.

“We did some good things, but they battled back on us and  give them credit. We had a 4-2 lead on them and they battled back.”

With a shot at redemption the Wildcats came out firing again when the team returned home to the Whittemore Center the following night, but a colossal third-period meltdown kept the ‘Cats out of the winning picture yet again.

An offensive shootout turned sour as five unanswered goals turned one of the most exciting games of the season into a blowout, finishing 8-2 in favor of the Terriers

“Well in both games, they beat us in the third period. Pretty much both games they dominated us in the third period,” Nazarian said. “That’s pretty much where we need to step it up in our game, just battle it out in the third period play for ourselves, play for our team.”

With a home-and-home against UConn on deck to end the regular season, its no secret that the ‘Cats will have to win out to secure home ice for the opening round of the Hockey East tournament. With playoff implications at stake, the team is preparing to put the weekend behind them and move forward.

The Wildcat seniors will be honored during senior night this Friday when the ‘Cats take on the UConn Huskies at 7 p.m. at the Whittemore Center.

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