Saturday, November 03, 2012

UMass Defeats UNH 2-1 in OT

AMHERST, MA - Despite sophomore goalie Casey DeSmith's best effort - and it was an amazing effort - UNH lost to a tenacious UMass-Amherst squad in overtime. The 2-1 victory is the first for UMass this season in Hockey East action (Overall: 2-3-0; Hockey East: 1-3-0). It was UNH's first loss of the season (Overall: 4-1-1; Hockey East: 2-1-1). UNH's quest for its first road victory of the season continues.

Between The Lines

The Forward Lines & Defensive Pairings
~ Starting Lineup: Nick Sorkin (LW)- Grayson Downing (C)- Dalton Speelman (RW); Trevor van Riemsdyk (LD)- Connor Hardowa (RD).
~ Forward Lines: Goumas-Burke-Block; Thrush-Silengo-Henrion; Correale-Pavelski-Willows; Defensive Pairings: Knodel-Pesce; Kostolansky-Agosta.

Game Summary

First Period:
Determined not to give up a goal early in the first period, UNH came out strong and did not allow a shot on goal over the first 5 minutes. The first several shots at Casey DeSmith were relatively harmless.
Over the first half of the period, UNH got the better of the play utilizing short, accurate passes to advance the puck into the UMass zone.
However, midway through the period, UMass became markedly more tenacious on the forecheck. Their strategy included body checks along the boards deep in the UNH end and intercepting UNH's attempts to clear the puck out of the zone along the half-boards. It was a pattern UMass continued in the last two periods.
Overall, the shots on goal in the first period were 8-8 but Greg Burke (2nd goal of the season) banged home a rebound with less than a minute left in the period. Kevin Goumas started the play with a quick shot from the faceoff circle to the right of UMass goalie Kevin Boyle. Boyle made the initial save, but Burke snapped a wrister into the net.

Second Period:
UMass continued there tenacious forechecking early in the second period.
About 5 minutes into the period, Matt Willows was called for tripping in the UMass zone. On the ensuing power play, UMass moved the puck effectively and rattled off 3 shots on goal.
Midway into the second period, UMass had built up a shots on goal advantage of 16-9.
One bright spot offensively for UNH was a nifty move by Grayson Downing with about 8 minutes left in the period. From behind the UMass net, Downing skated the puck almost vertically out in front of Boyle and fired a wrister from point blank range.
UMass's persistence paid off with about 8 minutes left in the period. Junior forward Conor Sheary slipped past a UNH defender at the blue line and broke in on DeSmith. Now facing a 2-on-1, DeSmith was unable to stop the wrister by Sheary which flew into the top corner. Game tied 1-1.
UNH's difficulty gaining control of the puck in their own end was exemplified by a tripping penalty with a minute and 1/2 left. Eric Knodel tripped up the elusive Mike Pereira (3 SOG in the game). On the ensuing power play, UMass continued to effectively move the puck throughout the UNH zone. Senior Brett Kostolansky saved a goal by blocking a shot from the top of the slot.

Third Period:
At the outset of Period 3, UNH killed off the remaining 27 seconds of the UMass power play without allowing another shot on goal.
UNH's best opportunity to take the lead came about 7 minutes into the period. Dalton Speelman flew into the UMass zone on a 2-on-1 break. The left-handed Speelman was on the right wing to the left of goalie Boyle. Speelman tried to beat Boyle to the far side with a wrist shot along the ice but just barely missed the post.
For the remainder of the third period, it was The Casey DeSmith Show. He made several incredible saves to keep UNH in the game.
At the 8:14 mark, DeSmith flashed his pad to stop a quick shot off a faceoff then pounced on the puck to stop play.
10:39 - Sheary fires a point blank shot and DeSmith makes a glove save while jumping.
13:25 - DeSmith flashes a skate save.
15:42 - DeSmith stops a point blank shot with his knee pad.
16:39 - DeSmith hops up vertically and stops the puck with his shoulder.
UNH escaped the third period tied despite UMass outshooting them 13-8.

Both teams began the overtime period playing cautiously. Short passes; avoid mistakes.
An unwritten rule in hockey is that a penalty is not called during overtime unless it is a flagrant violation and clearly interferes with a scoring opportunity. A persuasive argument could be made that the tripping penalty on Kevin Goumas with just under 3 minutes left in overtime did not meet that standard. The "trip" of the UMass player appeared to occur well away from the play while the puck was down in the corner to the left of Casey DeSmith.
Early in the overtime power play, DeSmith made two gut saves to stop play.
On the winning goal with under a minute left on the power play, DeSmith had little chance of making the save though he came close. Greg Burke, who wins crucial faceoffs on a regular basis, was unable to do so this time. The puck moved into the corner to the right of DeSmith. Shane Walsh made a cross ice pass to Darren Rowe who was wide open on the back door. DeSmith quickly slid across the crease with his pads spread on the ice but the shot beat him upstairs.
A tough way to lose the game but UMass worked harder at it, outshooting UNH 36-26.

UNH Stars of the Game

#1 Star - Casey DeSmith
~ See above. As Coach Umile has repeatedly said, sophomore Casey DeSmith always gives UNH a chance to win the game by making timely saves.

#2 Star - Kevin Goumas
~ On a number of occasions, Goumas carried the puck on his own into and around the UMass zone, eluding players as he went.
~ He snapped off 4 shots on goal, including the one Boyle was unable to handle and left for Greg Burke to clean up.

#3 Star - Matt Willows and Dan Correale
~ The fourth line, centered by Scott Pavelski, played very well together. On a number of occasions, sophomore Willows and freshman Correale advanced the puck up ice with nice passing.
~ Willows had 4 shots on goal while Correale added another.
~ Midway through the first period, when UMass began their effective forechecking, Correale effectively disrupted their puck movement on two occasions.

Points of Interest

~ The crowd of close to 5,000 fans was one of the largest ones I've seen at the Mullins Center.
~ The long bus ride from UNH to UMass did not appear to have any ill effect on the team. Arriving the day before was obviously a good plan.
~ Not winning a road game over the first month of the season is not as serious as failing to win one until January (see last season). However, the team obviously would like to get that monkey off their back up in Orono on Sunday.


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