Tuesday, February 09, 2016

UNH Captain's Corner: Hanging Tough with BC & UMass Lowell

UNH Captain Collin MacDonald

With 6 games remaining in the Hockey East regular season, the top 5 teams - Notre Dame (26 pts), Boston College (26), UMass Lowell (24), Providence (23) and Boston University (21) - have separated themselves from the rest of the pack. UNH, Vermont, Connecticut, and Northeastern have each earned 12 points followed by Maine and Merrimack (10 pts) and Massachusetts (8).

Over the past three weekends, UNH faced off against all the top Hockey East teams except BU and hung tough with each of them. The Wildcats built some momentum with a convincing 3-1 victory at Providence College (ranked #4 in the nation at the time) on the final night of January.

On Friday, the team bus rolled into Chestnut Hill to face 4th-ranked Boston College. Over the prior 7 Hockey East conference games, the Eagles had won 4 and tied 3. Their goalie, Thatcher Demko had the best goals against average and save percentage in Hockey East. In one of the more entertaining games of the season, both UNH and BC unloaded 38 shots on goal. Sophomore goalie Danny Tirone made some key saves including one in the first period dubbed the "Superman Save" by Grant Salzano of BC Interruption (click on link to view).

After BC potted two quick goals early in the second period, a resilient UNH squad answered with goals by Kyle Smith, his 3rd goal in the last 2 games, and Andrew Poturalski. Midway through the third period, BC scored two more goals but Dan Correale pulled the Wildcats to within one with a goal a minute later. UNH played with an extra skater for over a minute at the end of regulation but did not get the equalizer.

Here's a link to an informative game report on BC Interruption:

"GOAL BY GOAL: Boston College Hockey Battles Through Injuries To Hold Off New Hampshire 4-3"

Following the game, Head Coach Dick Umile summed up the team's performance:
"I think we played well, played smart. Tirone made saves in key times of the game. The Poturalski (Kelleher-Correale) line played hard and I thought Kelleher played extremely well tonight. We're talking about one of the top teams in the country and we're going head-to-head with them. We're disappointed that we're not winning hockey games here but it's not from lack of effort. These guys have been bringing it the last 3 or 4 games and I like the way they compete."
On Saturday night, UNH played it's fourth road game in two weekends - this time against 8th ranked UMass Lowell. The River Hawks' goalie Kevin Boyle entered the game with the second best stats in Hockey East, just slightly behind Thatcher Demko. The Poturalski-Kelleher-Correale line scored one of the quickest goals of the season just 30 seconds into the game. As this rinkside video shows, Poturalski sparked the scoring play by digging the puck out from behind the net. Correale made a slick centering pass to Kelleher who nearly shoveled it in. Poturalski banged the rebound home for the 21st goal of his sophomore season.

Midway through the second period, Andrew Poturalski nearly notched his second goal of the game on this penalty shot but Lowell goalie Kevin Boyle denied him:

Less than 2 minutes later, Shane Eiserman built up a 2 goal lead with the first goal of his sophomore season. Eiserman and right winger Jamie Hill worked this pretty, cross-slot passing play:

With 10 minutes remaining in the third period, freshman Ara Nazarian scored the eventual, game-winning goal on an outstanding individual effort. Incidently, the last time Nazarian scored a point at the Tsongas Center was in March, 2014 during a semifinal victory by Malden Catholic High School in the Massachusetts Super 8 tournament. Here's a rinkside view of Nazarian's second game-winning goal of his freshman season:

Lowell mounted a two-goal comeback, including one with an extra skater, but UNH held them off for the 3-2 victory. Danny Tirone finished the game with 43 saves and earned the #2 Star of the Game.

I had an opportunity to interview UNH Captain Collin MacDonald about the key win over Providence College:

Mike Lowry ("C-H-C"): On Friday night, both UNH and Boston College (#4 in Nation) generated 38 shots on goal with BC winning 4-3. On Saturday, UMass Lowell (#8 in Nation) outshot UNH 45-16 but the Wildcats won the key Hockey East contest 3-2. What did Lowell do to limit the team's shots on goal and how did UNH overcome the shot deficit to win?

Collin MacDonald: Lowell is a defensively disciplined team, and really shut it down in their own end. They block shots and win a lot of low scoring games. We were very opportunistic on Saturday. Two of our three goals were nice plays on the rush, and we were very happy with the final outcome.

Mike Lowry: Sophomore goalie Danny Tirone earned the Hockey East Defensive Player of the Week award after the Providence series and he was awarded the #2 Star in both the BC and Lowell games. When Danny is on top of his game, what does he do as well or better than any other Hockey East goalie?

Collin MacDonald: Yeah I thought Danny had another outstanding weekend. He made some incredible saves in both games. A couple things that are consistent about Danny are his focus and his work ethic. I’ve said it before; his work ethic is second to none. He’s very quick in the net, and he just refuses to quit. I see it everyday in practice and it carries right into games.

Lowry: After scoring 4 goals as a freshman, Shane Eiserman (4th round draft pick of the Ottawa Senators) broke through with his first goal of the season in the victory over Lowell. As a fellow left-shot, power forward, what strengths do you see in Shane's game?

MacDonald: Shane is always one of the strongest guys on the ice; he’s also always one of the most fearless players I’ve played with. I think he’s been playing a much more consistent game over the last few weeks. He’s had plenty of chances and the boys were happy to see him get rewarded. We’ll need him to continue his strong play as we finish up the regular season, and I believe he will.

Lowry: I noticed that you are no longer wearing a sling for your shoulder injury. Does that mean you are close to returning to the lineup?

MacDonald: I’m rehabbing everyday and back to on-ice activity. I’ve got a lot of work to do, but I plan to return to the lineup before the season is over. Can’t say when yet, it depends on how I progress on and off the ice. I have twenty-four teammates in my corner and helping me recover as quickly as I can.

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

UNH Captain's Corner: Big Win Over #4 Providence

UNH Captain Collin MacDonald

Over the weekend, the UNH hockey team travelled to Providence College to face the #4 team in NCAA Division I. The Wildcats were fighting through a six-game losing streak - the longest since Dick Umile became the Head Coach in the 1990-91 season. There were a couple bright spots during the streak including a 0-1 loss to UMass Lowell (Ranked #10 at the time) and 2-3 decision to Notre Dame (Ranked #13). However, UNH had surrendered from 4 to 6 goals in three of their loses.

The Wildcats were hoping to build on their success against Providence last season when the Friars ended up winning the National Championship. After dropping an early season game 0-1 at the Whittemore Center, UNH won the regular season rematch 2-1. In the 2015 Hockey East Quarterfinal series at Schneider Arena, the teams played three 2-1 games with UNH winning Games 1 and 3.

In the first period of the game on Friday night, UNH and PC played each other even with neither team scoring (Shots on Goal: PC 11, UNH 10). Early in the second period, sophomore goalie Danny Tirone left his net and misplayed the puck below the goal line. Providence captalized and grabbed the 1-0 lead. Early in the final period, senior Mark Jankowski, a #1 draft pick of the Calgary Flames, flew out of the PC zone leading a 2-on-1 break and snapped a wrister past Tirone.

With just under 9 minutes left in regulation, the prolific scoring combination of Andrew Poturalski and Tyler Kelleher got UNH back in the game on an outstanding bang-bang goal. It was Kelleher's 7th goal of the season and 37th point. Poturalski's assist raised his point total to 40. PC sealed the deal with an empty net goal.

Here's a link to my blog post which shows each of the goals:

"UNH Loses 7th Straight; Providence 3, UNH 1"

On Saturday night, UNH played it's best all-around game of the season downing Providence 3-1. The Wildcats, backstopped by Danny Tirone, frustrated PC's efforts to get back in the game after the teams were tied 1-1. Although Providence outshot UNH 32-22, Tirone was up to the task and earned the Hockey East Defensive Player of the Week honor.

Here's a link to my game report of the 3-1 victory, including video highlights of the goals:

"UNH & Tirone Smother #4 Providence 3-1"

I had an opportunity to interview UNH Captain Collin MacDonald about the key win over Providence College:

Mike Lowry ("C-H-C"): Prior to the important win against Providence College on Saturday night, the team played competitive games against the top 4 teams in Hockey East - Boston College 3-6, UMass Lowell 0-1, Notre Dame 2-3, Providence 1-3 - but couldn't get the win. On Saturday night, UNH broke through the barrier with a 3-1 win over the Friars (4th Ranked in the Nation). What did it take to earn the win against one of the best teams in Hockey East?

Collin MacDonald: It took a full 60 minutes Saturday to win the game. In some of our losses we’ve had bad stretches of play during the game, sometimes just ugly periods. We played a full game on Saturday and we earned that win. I think we had close to thirty blocked shots as well, which was a huge part of our success.

Mike Lowry: Before you were injured in early December, the senior line of Maxim Gaudreault, Kyle Smith, and yourself had played together in nearly every game. When you've been out of the lineup with an injury, a few other forwards have been combined with Maxim and Kyle (i.e., Jamie Hill, Shane Eiserman, and Chris Miller). Over the weekend, freshman Marcus Vela moved up to join Gaudreault and Smith and they were productive. Over the two games, Kyle Smith had 2 goals and 8 shots on goal, Maxim Gaudreault had an assist and 6 SOG, and Marcus Vela generated 2 assists and 4 SOG. How do the skill sets of these three players compliment each other?

Collin MacDonald: It was really nice to see those three get rewarded this past weekend. Smitty is a very underrated player and has been throughout his career. You saw the skill he has on his second goal on Saturday, but its the little details in his game that are tough to teach. Max and Vela are heavy on the puck, it’s tough to take it away from them and they are hard to defend. Smitty supports the puck so well and made it easier for his whole line to make plays. Hopefully they can keep it going as we move on.

Lowry: During one of the television timeouts, I noticed Jamie Regan fist bumping Danny Tirone. Regan played well against Notre Dame and Tirone only allowed 3 goals over the two Providence games. How would you characterize the relationship between these two goalies who, at some level, are competing for playing time?

MacDonald: I’d say they definitely have a good relationship. They both support each other on the ice no matter the situation, and that’s so important. It’s great that there’s competition among them and they both push each other to be better.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

UNH & Tirone Smother #4 Providence 3-1

Sophomore Goalie Danny Tirone
31 Saves
Senior Kyle Smith
Scores 2 Goals
Senior Dan Correale
Game Winning Goal

The UNH Wildcats snapped their seven-game losing steak with a full-effort, convincing 3-1 win over the #4 Providence Friars. They played perhaps their most complete game of the season winning puck battles against PC in all three zones.

Sophomore goalie Danny Tirone, who has always played exceptionally well against Providence, both at home and especially in Schneider Arena, was on top of his game. Tirone surrendered only one goal and made 31 saves. Last Spring, Tirone backstopped a Hockey East Quarterfinal Series win over PC. He allowed only 4 goals in the three-game series. Last night, except for a miscue playing the puck behind the net on Providence's first goal, Tirone was solid in the net and allowed two goals (PC also scored an ENG).

Two UNH senior forwards - Kyle Smith and Dan Correale - came up big with Smith scoring his 4th and 5th goals of the season and Correale burying his 15th. Correale is now tied for 7th place in NCAA Division I goals. High-scoring linemates Andrew Poturalski and Tyler Kelleher assisted on his goal. Poturalski (19G, 22A) is the 2nd leading scorer in the nation. Kelleher (7G, 30A) is only 2 points behind in 4th place and he leads the nation in assists.

In a total team effort, the forward line of Maxim Gaudreault at left wing, Kyle Smith at center, and freshman Marcus Vela stood out with their tight checking and scoring. Smith scored 2 goals on 6 shots on goal. Gaudreault dished out an assist and Vela had 2 assists and a +/- rating of +1.

Here are the video highlights of each goal in the UNH victory:

Friday, January 29, 2016

UNH Loses 7th Straight; Providence 3, UNH 1

Tyler Kelleher
Notches 7th Goal, 36th Point

UNH Recruits Update: Jan-29-2016

Defenseman Corson Green
Commits to UNH for 2018

Player Spotlight - Corson Green

The last couple months has been a time of excitement and accomplishments for 16-year-old Corson Green (DOB: 3/4/1999). In early December, the 6'3", 207 lbs., left-shot defensemen was promoted to the Northern Cyclones Premiere team, based in Hudson, NH, in the Eastern Hockey League. Green began the 2015-16 season playing for the Northern Cyclones 16U National team in the Eastern Junior Elite Prospects League. Over the first 10 games with the 16U team, he scored 10 goals and 5 assists.

On December 9th, in his debut with the Cyclones Premiere team, Corson Green dished out 3 assists then scored his first EHL goal against the New Hampshire Junior Monarchs a few days later. Since then, he's been playing for both the Cyclones 16U and Premiere teams, sometimes on the same day. The two leagues present a stark contrast for Corson since the Premiere League is primarily made up of players 3 to 4 years older.

Green's second EHL goal may be one of the most exciting of his young career. On January 18th, the Northern Cyclones and Philadelphia Jr. Flyers were knotted up 2-2 at the end of regulation. A few minutes into overtime, Corson gathered the puck behind the Cyclones' net, carried it down the right side of all three zones, and snapped a backhander over the goalie's glove. Here's the video highlight of the overtime game-winner courtesy of the Eastern Hockey League:

Last Saturday, Corson Green's on-ice accomplishments were rewarded with an opportunity to play college hockey for the University of New Hampshire. Corson verbally committed to enroll at UNH in the Fall of 2018. In April, the native of Potsdam, New York was drafted by the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds in the 5th Round of the Ontario Hockey League Draft. Over the summer, Corson decided to play junior hockey in the United States with the hopes of earning an offer to play NCAA Division I hockey.

So far this season, Green has scored 12 goals and 5 assists in 17 games with the Northern Cyclones 16U team. The physical defenseman has also accumulated 55 penalty minutes. Green is currently the second-leading scorer among all EJEPL defensemen. The 16U team has 2 more regular season games and the EJEPL Playoffs will be played from February 5-7. In 11 games with the Northern Cyclones Premiere team, Corson has notched 2 goals and 5 assists and been penalized for 18 minutes. The Premiere team has 9 more regular season games and the EHL Playoffs begin in March.

The statistics for the recruits, presented in the following table, are categorized by the projected year they will enroll in UNH. For example, the "2016 Recruits" are projected to begin playing for UNH in the Fall of 2016. I have based these projections on a number of factors including:
~ If a National Letter of Intent has been signed.
~ The year the recruit and UNH coaches originally targeted for enrollment in UNH.
~ How old the recruit would be upon admission.
~ Number of years in junior hockey prior to admission.
~ The recruit's performance in recent seasons as well as injuries.
~ Anticipated date of high school graduation.
~ Number of UNH players leaving the team at the end of the previous season and the position they played.

Player Team League GP Goals Asst Pts PIM
2016 Recruits
Liam Blackburn*  (F) West Kelowna Warriors BCHL 46 23 34 57 41
Justin Fregona*  (F) Langley Rivermen BCHL 38 22 18 40 31
Patrick Grasso*  (F) Des Moines Bucs USHL 36 10 14 24 8
Charlie Kelleher  (F) Junior Bruins USPHL 30 15 31 46 22
Nick Nonis  (D) Powell River Kings BCHL 43 1 6 7 40
Brendan van Riemsdyk*   (F) Islanders Hockey Club USPHL 34 18 22 40 42
Mike Robinson*  (G) Junior Bruins USPHL 7 4W 3L 3.02 .909
2016 or '17 Recruits
Joe Cipollone  (F) Tri-City Storm USHL 28 5 3 8 10
Vernon Vipers BCHL 12 4 3 7 2
Liam Darcy  (D) Islanders Hockey Club USPHL 26 1 9 10 2
Aaron O'Neill  (F) Chilliwack Chiefs BCHL 13 4 0 4 6
Tri-City Storm USHL 8 0 1 1 2
2017 Recruits
Eric MacAdams  (F) Sioux Falls Stampede USHL 31 5 6 11 62
2017 or '18 Recruits
Eric Esposito  (F) Youngstown Phantoms USHL 35 1 5 6 32
Jason O'Neill  (F) Langley Rivermen BCHL 35 5 12 17 2
2018 Recruits
Corson Green  (D) Northern Cyclones EHL 11 2 5 7 18
Northern Cyclones 16U EJEPL 17 12 5 17 55
* = Signed National
Letter of Intent

News & Notes

United States Premiere Hockey League:

~ 2016 UNH Commit Brendan van Riemsdyk has been on a goal-scoring tear. Over the Islander's Hockey Club's last 4 games, BvR has notched 6 goals and is now tied for 6th in USPHL goals. Van Riemsdyk has been particularly productive on the power play this season with 7 goals (tied 2nd in USPHL) and 10 assists (tied 3rd). He has tallied 4 game-winning goals (tied 3rd) and he potted a goal in the recent USPHL Premiere Division All Star Game.

~ Charlie Kelleher has also been scoring goals at a steady clip. Over the first three weeks in January, he notched a goal-a-game in 6 consecutive, Junior Bruin games. He is now the 4th leading scorer in the USPHL and tied for 3rd in assists (31).

British Columbia Hockey League:

~ 2017 or '18 UNH Commit Jason O'Neill has scored a goal and 2 assists over the Langley Rivermen's last 3 games. So far in his rookie season, O'Neill has posted 5 goals and 12 assists.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

UNH Captain's Corner: Looking for a Win

UNH Captain Collin MacDonald

Over the weekend, the Notre Dame hockey team arrived in Durham ranked #13 in the nation. They were riding a ten-game streak without a loss having won 7, including a victory against Boston College, and tied 3. The previous weekend, they had swept Merrimack in two games at Lawler Arena. The Fighting Irish are big - 9 players are 6'2" or taller - and skilled - 9 are NHL draft picks. Their sophomore goalie Cal Petersen, a 5th round pick of the Buffalo Sabres, sported the second lowest goals against average in Hockey East (a little over 1.5 goals per game).

Notre Dame left town with two more wins in the bank and are now ranked #9 in the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Poll and #10 in the USCHO.com Poll. The Fighting Irish are also tied for 2nd in the Hockey East standings (22 points) just one point behind UMass Lowell.

Meanwhile, the UNH Wildcats are in the midst of a six-game losing streak and are stuck near the bottom of Hockey East. They have earned 8 conference points and are tied for next to last place with UMass Amherst.

On Friday night, Notre Dame used it's size, strength and speed to dominate UNH in all phases of the game. They built up a 4-0 lead midway through the second period and eventually won 5-1. The Fighting Irish outshot the Wildcats 40-25.

One of the very few high points for UNH was their lone goal. With just 24 seconds left in the 2nd period, freshman Ara Nazarian hopped over the boards on a line change. He blocked a shot just inside the UNH blueline, gathered the loose puck, and sped past the Notre Dame back checkers on a clean breakaway. Just as he got a shot away deep in the Notre Dame slot, he was hooked to the ice leading to a penalty shot. Here's a video of Nazarian's penalty shot goal:

Another positive for UNH was the play of backup senior goalie Jamie Regan. After Notre Dame's scored it's 4th goal on just 20 shots, sophomore goalie Danny Tirone was replaced by Regan. He stopped 19 out of 20 shots on goal over the final period and one half. Following the game, Coach Umile praised Regan's play:
"Great for Jamie Regan, he really competed. He works hard every day. Tonight, it was just that quick. ‘Jamie, you’re in.’ And he competed, played great."
Here's a link to Parker Wheeler's game report of the 5-1 loss from our blog: "#13 Notre Dame Takes Down UNH With Ease"

After the game, Coach Umile called Jamie Regan and told him he earned the start for Saturday's game against Notre Dame. It was the first time he had ever started in an NCAA game and his play was solid indeed. The Fighting Irish scored a power play goal in the 1st period and another in the 2nd. Andrew Poturalski, the nation's leading scorer and goal scorer, answered with this remarkable power play goal with just under 7 minutes remaining in the 2nd period:

Senior defenseman Harry Quast tied the game in the last minute of the second period. Sophomore Jason Salvaggio set up the goal as he dove and poked the puck to Quast.

Notre Dame's Mario Lucia scored the game-winner on a one-on-one battle with Regan. Two of Lucia's shots were turned away by Regan but the third trickled under his pad. For the second night in a row, Coach Umile was impressed by Jamie Regan:
"He did a great job. Proud of him. He made a great save there at the end. It’s too bad we had to lose the game and didn’t win it for him because he deserved it."
Here's Parker Wheeler's game report: "UNH Falls in Close Contest to Notre Dame"

I had an opportunity to interview UNH Captain Collin MacDonald about the Notre Dame games and what lies ahead for the Wildcats:

Mike Lowry ("C-H-C"): It's been a story of feast or famine for the team over the past two months. After riding high on a record of 5-0-1 in December, UNH has lost 6 games in a row. Have you seen any signs that the team is on the verge of turning it around?

Collin MacDonald: Yeah I know we lost the game Saturday night, but it was a nice showing by us to bounce back and play the way we did after Friday night. We’ve talked about how we’re ultimately beating ourselves with mistakes we’re making. We’re getting out of town for a couple weekends and are looking to get some big wins against a few of the top teams in the country. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, our team won’t quit.

Mike Lowry: In our interview a week ago, I asked you to describe senior backup goalie Jamie Regan's style and strengths. You said he is "one of the most athletic guys" you've ever played with and that "the boys trust him back there". As luck would have it, Regan got his first NCAA start against Notre Dame on Saturday. Would you describe Regan's performance in the one-goal loss to the Fighting Irish and what it means for the team?

Collin MacDonald: I was really happy for Jamie and proud of the way he played this past weekend. He showed everyone, including himself, how capable he is of playing at this level. It’s inevitable, in the position he’s been in for 3 ½ years, for self-doubt to creep in, but he stepped up and really rid any doubt he or anyone else had in his ability. Saturday he made some big saves; their second goal was just an unfortunate bounce from what I saw. I think an underrated part of his performance was the way he handled the puck; he handled it nicely behind our net and made it easier on our defensemen.

Lowry: With 10 Hockey East games left in the regular season, UNH is tied for next-to-last place in the conference. The top four teams earn a first-round bye in the Hockey East Playoffs and teams 5-8 earn home-ice for the best-of-three opening round series. Aside from the obvious goal of winning one game at a time, what are the team's goals for the remainder of the regular season?

MacDonald: Yeah like you said we just need to take one game at a time. It’s always a goal to have home ice in the playoffs. Home ice in the best-of-three opening series is still a very realistic goal for sure. So getting some wins and moving up to eighth place or better would make that first round easier. I haven’t exactly studied the standings at this point, and don’t know how high we can finish. All I know is that we have 10 regular season games left, and right now we’re focused on our weekend at Providence College.

Lowry: How is the recovery/rehabilitation from your shoulder injury coming along?

MacDonald: It’s a really frustrating injury because of the waiting game that comes along with it. I should know a lot more about my future in the next week or so. I’m just itching to get back out there, I feel like everyday I'm getting a step closer. This has been such a mental challenge, along with a physical one, over the past eight weeks.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

UNH Falls in Close Contest to Notre Dame

Andrew Poturalski
Pots 19th Goal
Senior Goalie Jamie Regan
26 Saves, 1st NCAA Start
Senior Harry Quast
1st Goal of Season

DURHAM, NH - UNH battled back in the second period, but would fall one goal short against #13 Notre Dame. It was the Wildcats' sixth loss in a row.

The start of this game for UNH was much stronger than the previous night. The Wildcats looked competitive throughout the first period and played closely with the Fighting Irish.

Senior goalie Jamie Regan saw his first collegiate start for the Wildcats after coming in for almost half the game Friday night in relief of Danny Tirone.

Despite Notre Dame having much more offensive possession in the first period, UNH still hung tight and looked much better than their poor performance last night.

Watching the Fighting Irish, it’s easy to tell why they are a top 15 team in the nation. They dominate in size and speed and they gave the Wildcats fits all weekend.

Notre Dame again struck first Saturday night, for the 21st time in their 25 games, to give them a 1-0 lead on the power play at 11:46. Thomas DiPauli tucked a backhanded shot past the glove of Regan after coming off the goal line and gave Notre Dame the lead.

Through the first four periods of the weekend, UNH’s power play was held scoreless through five opportunities.

UNH would see the deficit grow further, just 25 seconds into the second period, when Jake Evans scored on the power play and brought the Fighting Irish lead to 2-0. Despite playing more competitive, it looked like a similar result was inevitable for the struggling Wildcats.

At 13:43 of the second period, many Wildcat prayers were answered. Sophomore Andrew Poturalski ended his four game scoreless streak on a breakaway while on the power play and cut the lead in half, 2-1. Poturalski continues to lead the nation in goals (19) and points (39).

The Wildcats' offense struck again at 19:01 of the second on a wrist shot from the point by Harry Quast. The game-tying goal was Quast's first goal of the season and second of his career.

A good deal of the credit for the goal goes to the man who got the assist. Jason Salvaggio dove to poke the puck toward Quast before a Notre Dame player could clear the zone. It was a perfect example of great effort the Wildcats had been lacking in recent games. The teams headed to the third period tied at two.

A highly contested third went back and forth and the teams looked as evenly matched as they had all weekend long.

At 11:45 Mario Lucia was able to get his own rebound off an incredible save by Regan and get the game winner to make it 3-2.

Late pushes by UNH were unsuccessful, but all around it was a better effort for the Wildcats.

Here are the game highlights courtesy of UNH Athletics:

UNH's record fell to 8-12-4 overall and 2-6-4 in Hockey East. Notre Dame improved to 14-4-7 overall and now holds a 10-1-2 record in conference play. They are currently tied for 2nd place in Hockey East with Boston College. Both are 1 point behind 1st place UMass Lowell.

It doesn’t get easier from here on out as UNH is in the midst of facing seven nationally-ranked opponents in nine games. The Wildcats travel to #3 Providence for two games next weekend.

Box Score

#13 Notre Dame Takes Down UNH With Ease

Freshman Ara Nazarian
Penalty Shot Goal
Senior Goalie Jamie Regan
1 Goal Against, #3 Star

DURHAM, NH - It was another dismal effort for the Wildcats as they fell to the Fighting Irish by a score of 5-1.

Early on in the game it was evident UNH was outmanned and out battled by Notre Dame and it carried through the entire game.

The Fighting Irish pocketed two goals in the first seven minutes of the game. Danny Tirone allowed the first two goals on only four shots, including a soft goal by Connor Hurley at 3:12 of the first and UNH was stuck in a hole.

The Wildcats had roughly two minutes of solid offensive possession through the entire first period. Other than that, they played on their heels and were overshadowed by the strength of Notre Dame.

In the second period Notre Dame struck again on the power play at 8:39 as Anders Bjork scored his tenth of the season and gave the Fighting Irish a 3-0 lead.

Mario Lucia would add his second of the night at 11:47 of the second as he placed a shot top shelf over the blocker side shoulder of Tirone to extend the lead to 4-0.

That would be the end of the night for Tirone who gave way to senior Jamie Regan, who would come in and play a great game in relief. Regan made 18 saves on 19 shots.

The only exciting moment of the night for UNH was in the final second of the second period when Ara Nazarian scored on a penalty shot to cut the lead to 4-1. This was the first successful UNH penalty shot since 2006. Here's a video of Nazarian's goal courtesy of Mike Lowry:

From there, Notre Dame would add one more at 7:29 off the stick of Sam Herr who was left all alone in front on the power play and buried a rebound shot past Regan to make it 5-1.

In the end, not much went the right way for UNH all night. Goaltending, defense and offense were absent from roughly every minute of the game.

The Wildcats play host to Notre Dame again tomorrow night at 5:00 PM and have a multitude of adjustments to make if they want to be competitive. Overall, figuring out how to get the powerful line of Andrew Poturalski, Tyler Kelleher and Dan Correale back on track may be most important.

Poturalski, who is still the leading scorer in NCAA Division I hockey, has been held scoreless for four straight games and has been stifled by opposing defenses the past few weeks.

The interesting development may be the goaltending situation for UNH. With the struggles of Danny Tirone continuing and a great performance by Jamie Regan, one has to wonder if there may be a switch in starter for tomorrows tilt.

Box Score

Monday, January 18, 2016

UNH Captain's Corner: Back-to-Back Loses

UNH Captain Collin MacDonald

A little over a week ago, UNH faced the #1 team in Hockey East and #10 team in the nation - UMass Lowell. The River Hawks also boasted the 4th best defense in the nation. It was the beginning of a final stretch of 15 Hockey East matchups for the Wildcats. Although UNH entered the game 7 points behind Lowell in the Hockey East standings, it had played 4 fewer conference games. Equipped with the 6th most potent offense in NCAA Division I hockey, the Wildcats were looking to begin a move up the HE rankings.

In a classic defensive battle, UNH and Lowell were scoreless with a little less than three minutes left in regulation. In the midst of a mad scramble in the crease, with goalie Danny Tirone and forward Chris Miller laid out on the ice trying to freeze the puck, it trickled across the goal line for a UMass Lowell win. Despite the loss, the team had reason to feel positive about their effort. Head Coach Dick Umile summed it up in the post-game news conference:
"It's as good a defensive game as we've played. I thought we played very hard in the defensive zone and did a really good job there. We had our chances. We had a chance to even tie it up there on the rush. But it was unfortunate the way the goal went in."
Next up for the Wildcats was a home-and-home series against Northeastern University. The Huskies were a bit of an enigma. NU was winless in 11 Hockey East games. They had managed to tie Boston College, Notre Dame, and Vermont but had lost 8 conference games. The Huskies were playing better as of late with a win over Michigan State, a tie with highly-ranked Quinnipiac, and two wins against Saint Lawrence.

On Friday night down at historic Matthews Arena, UNH was thumped by Northeastern 4-2. As Alternate Captain Dan Correale said:
"We didn't play the game we're capable of playing. We haven't played like that in a long time."
On Saturday night, with the students away on semester break and many UNH fans home watching the Patriot's playoff game, the Wildcats did not fare any better. Northeastern dominated the game, start to finish, and easily won 6-2. Here's a link to Parker Wheeler's game report from our blog:

"UNH Gets Smoked At Home in 6-2 Loss to Northeastern"

Tyler Kelleher, the #2 scorer in the nation, summed up the loss:
"Pretty embarrassing for us I think. We all didn't play great at all. It will just get harder as the season goes on. We have Notre Dame next weekend, and then we have BC, Lowell, and Providence, so we've got to figure it out."
I had an opportunity to interview UNH Captain Collin MacDonald about the twin loses to UMass Lowell:

Mike Lowry ("C-H-C"): Last weekend, the team played it's best defensive game of the season against UMass Lowell, the top team in Hockey East. Needless to say, the team must be disappointed with its play in the back-to-back losses against Northeastern University. Is there anything the team can learn from those losses moving forward?

Collin MacDonald: We’re very disappointed with the weekend. It was tough, but with 12 games left there’s no time to dwell on it, and we’re certainly not going to quit. There’s too much character in our locker room to just roll over. Since I’ve been here at UNH, we’ve always played our best with our backs up against the wall. We’re going into the toughest part of our season, this past weekend puts us in a tougher spot, but I think we’ll use it as a wake up call.

Mike Lowry: Although the Poturalski-Kelleher-Correale line continues to be "First-in-the-Nation" in scoring (92 points), they have scored just 2 goals and 7 assists in the last 4 games. What did Vermont, UMass Lowell, and Northeastern do to minimize their offensive impact?

Collin MacDonald: What these guys have done for us offensively this season is something special. So right now it’s not going the way it has been for them, that’s going to happen. They’ll get back to their ways with hard work. They are clearly no secret to other teams so it’s going to get harder as we go down the stretch, but these three are up for it.

Lowry: Freshman Marcus Vela potted 3 goals in the 2 games against Northeastern and has scored 4 goals in his last 5 games. As a fellow power forward, what strengths do you see in Marcus' game?

MacDonald: Marcus is a big, strong kid that has stayed true to his game all year. He plays the body well and is great at protecting the puck when it’s on his stick. He’s a true freshman that is playing like an older guy out there. He’s getting to the net and it’s nice to see him getting rewarded.

Lowry: UNH fans got a chance to see backup goalie Jamie Regan play against Northeastern on Saturday. Regan was an All-Star goalie in the Eastern Junior Hockey League before coming to UNH. Would you describe his style and strengths?

MacDonald: Reags is one of the most athletic guys I’ve ever played with. He uses his athleticism in net. He’s garnered confidence by working in practice over his career here and in this year especially. He might not have the most game experience, but when he’s put in the net, the boys trust him back there; he’s here for a reason.

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