Sunday, November 13, 2011

UNH Cobbles Together 4-4 Tie at UVM

Burlington, VT - In terms of wins and losses, the 2011-12 UNH Wildcats have shown steady progress. With tonight's 4-4 tie at the Gutterson Fieldhouse, UNH has not lost over the last 6 games (4 wins and 2 ties). Another indicator of a team's progress is how it adapts to unplanned changes in the lineup. Last weekend, veteran forward Greg Burke missed both games due to illness. Freshman center Jay Camper stepped up with a +2 game against UMass Amherst and his first NCAA goal against Maine. This week, steady, dependable defenseman Connor Hardowa was called away due to a family emergency. Coach Umile and Tortorella decided to improvise by playing forward Scott Pavelski at defense. An interesting choice since freshman defensemen Eric Chevrier and Ryan Randall, who have not played yet this season, were in the stands. The adjustment worked out well through most of the first period. UNH was outshooting UVM 9-2, they maintained the puck in the UVM end for long stretches and were ahead 1-0 thanks to the second goal of the season for freshman Grayson Downing.

Then came an incident which would change the character of the game. With 6:29 left in the first period, sophomore forward Kevin Goumas would be ejected from the game for hitting Brett Leonard in the head at mid-ice. I did not see the hit from my vantage point in the corner stands and it happened away from the play as UVM was entering the UNH zone. Leonard was on the ice for several minutes. UNH was forced to juggle the lineup again. Pavelski was moved up to play left wing with Jeff Silengo and Austin Block, leaving just 5 defensemen - three playing their first season of college hockey - to play for the bulk of the game. The penalty energized the Catamounts. They scored midway through the 5-minute major and again with 49 seconds left in the period. UVM outshot UNH 14-13 in the first period.

Less than 2 minutes into the second period, UVM forward Brett Bruneteau - a transfer student from the University of North Dakota, where he played for 2 seasons - appeared to try to retaliate for the Goumas penalty. He crushed Mike Borisenok into the boards from behind and was given a game misconduct for his effort. Despite being short-handed, UVM maintained the momentum scoring a goal a little more than 1 minute into the 5-minute major. Trailing 3-1, UNH was at risk of the game getting away from them. However, 2 minutes later, UNH would answer with a powerplay goal. Freshman Trevor van Riemsdyk (TvR) controlled the puck near the top of the left circle and sent a wrister toward the net. Dalton Speelman tipped it by UVM goalie Rob Madore.

Over the final half of the second period, UNH regained the momentum. At 11:53, defenseman Justin Agosta made a nice play to keep the puck in the UVM zone then fed Austin Block for a shot that required a great save by Madore. At 12:16, freshman Casey Thrush worked a pretty give-and-go with TvR for another shot on Madore. Then, at 13:07, Stevie Moses made a terrific centering pass to Damon Kipp who was crashing toward the net. Kipp beat Madore to tie the game at 3. With about 5 minutes left in the 2nd Period, TvR intercepted the puck just inside the blueline, streaked to the lower circle and made a beautiful pass to Greg Burke in front who shot it just over the net. At the end of 2 periods, UNH was outshooting UVM 25-20.

Early in the final period, both teams played more cautiously with a lot of play in the neutral zone. Then, with about 12 minutes left in regulation, senior Stevie Moses made the kind of play that Bobby Butler became known for in his senior season. Moses stole the puck from an unsuspecting UVM defenseman to the right of goalie Madore, looped around in front of Madore and beat him badly for an unassisted goal. UNH 4, UVM 3.

For almost all the remainder of the 3rd period, UNH effectively contained UVM in neutral ice and kept the puck away from Di Girolamo when the puck got into their end. Brett Kostolansky, in particular, shut down an advancing UVM forward on several occasions. With 1:39 left in regulation, UVM called timeout. On the ensuing play, a UNH player attempted to clear the puck around the boards and out of the UNH zone. In the meantime, an extra UVM player had hopped onto the ice (after Madore skated to the bench) and raced to the blueline. The player, H.T. Lenz, reached the puck inches before it could cross the blueline then shot from the top of the circle. The puck beat Di Girolamo in between his pads. From my vantage point, it didn't look like Di Girolamo was screened but he might have been. After 3 periods, UNH had outshot UVM 34-27 but the game was tied at 4.

With UVM hungry for their first Hockey East victory and the Gutterson crowd screaming for an overtime goal, UNH got the better of the play in overtime. They outshot UVM 6-2. TvR appeared to savor the opportunity. With 2:17 left in OT, he made a quick move around a defender and got off a shot at Madore from the top of the circle. A few seconds later, TvR got off another wrister from about the same spot and Madore bobbled the puck but then covered up. With less than a minute to go, TvR made an outstanding 1-on-1 defensive play in the corner to the right of Di Girolamo, gathered the puck and made a perfect breakout pass to John Henrion. Henrion rushed into the zone and forced Madore to make another save. The one scary moment for UNH came with 2:30 left. A UVM player gathered the puck just inside the UNH zone and would have broken in on goal if not for a diving poke check by Jeff Silengo.

The UNH defensive group all deserve recognition for playing with poise despite having only 5 defensemen for most of the game. The UNH Stars go to:
#1 Star: Stevie Moses - A goal, 2 assists and 5 SOG.
#2 Star: Trevor van Riemsdyk - 1 assist, 6 SOG and some pretty passes.
#3 Star: Brett Kostolansky - Played shutdown defense when UNH needed it most.


Blogger The New Hampshirite said...

Nice recap, good to see this blog up and running again!

I watched the game via UVM's video feed on their website. It appeared DiGi was screened on the 4th goal. The shot went through Kostolansky's legs and DiGi didn't react until the puck was right in front of him.

Definitely looks like UNH is headed in the right direction, every point matters.

Nov 13, 2011, 11:32:00 AM  
Blogger C-H-C said...

Thanks very much - your feedback is much appreciated.
Your view of the 4th goal makes sense. From my distant vantage point, DiGi almost looked like he was frozen - a sure sign he didn't see the puck.

Mike ("C-H-C")

Nov 13, 2011, 2:59:00 PM  

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