Saturday, December 01, 2012

#2 UNH Downs Pesky UMass-Lowell 5-2

DURHAM, NH - Two Fridays ago, UNH went into the Tsongas Arena on the campus of UMass-Lowell and embarrassed the River Hawks 3-0. On that night, UML was outworked and outhustled in a lackluster performance. A noticeably more determined UML team took to the ice at the Whittemore Center this evening in front of a nearly packed house. The River Hawks took their skating, passing and hitting up a couple of notches but to no avail. The #2 Ranked UNH Wildcats (Overall: 10-1-2; Hockey East: 7-1-1) handed UML (Overall: 4-6-1; Hockey East: 2-5-1) a convincing 5-2 loss.

Between The Lines

The Forward Lines & Defensive Pairings
~ Starting Lineup: Dalton Speelman (LW)- Grayson Downing (C)- Austin Block (RW); Trevor van Riemsdyk (LD)- Connor Hardowa (RD).
~ Forward Lines: Thrush-Goumas-Gaudreault; Sorkin-Silengo-Henrion; Correale-Pavelski-Willows; Defensive Pairings: Kostolansky-Agosta; Knodel-Pesce.
~ This marks the second game in a row that freshman Maxim Gaudreault has played right wing on the second line.

Game Summary

As they had done last Friday at Colorado College, UNH built up a comfortable 4-0 lead on goals by Grayson Downing (6th and 7th goals of season), John Henrion (4th goal of season), and Kevin Goumas (7th goal of season). However, with less than a minute remaining in the 2nd period, an unfortunate series of events lead to UML's first goal of the night and the spark they needed.

It all began in the UML zone as the puck was transitioning into neutral ice. First line center Grayson Downing somehow hurt his left leg and could barely limp off the ice as the play continued. It was not obvious from my vantage point what caused the injury but Downing was in trouble. When he got to the UNH bench, he went down on all fours and was in obvious pain. It would take two UNH staff to help him limp down the runway and into the locker room.

In the time it took for Downing to hobble to the bench, UML rushed into the UNH zone. UML gained control of the puck below the goal line and Joe Pendenza made a blind, backhand centering pass into the slot. Shayne Thompson banged home a one-timer with 2 seconds left on the clock. It was the first goal UML had scored against Casey DeSmith in 5 periods.

As the teams awaited the puck drop to begin the 3rd Period, Downing managed to line up for the faceoff but he was clearly favoring his left leg. As the first shift progressed, Downing regained some of his normal mobility. Downing got to rest his leg a little more when matching penalties were called on he and a UML player. For the remainder of the game, Downing did not miss a shift.

UNH fans who watched the Colorado College game last week experienced a touch of deja vu with about 13 minutes left in the 3rd period. UML got to within 2 goals of UNH on a quick play around the UNH net. Casey DeSmith made the initial save on a turnaround shot from the faceoff circle to his left but the puck floated in the air in front of DeSmith. Michael Colantone batted the puck out of midair and past DeSmith. At the time, the shots on goal were even with 30 for each team.

From the 12:00 mark in the 3rd period until the 3:00 mark, Casey DeSmith made a series of clutch saves to maintain UNH's 2-goal lead. In a 15-second spurt with a little less than 10 minutes to play, UML fired three shots at close range and DeSmith saved them all. With 8 minutes remaining, a UML shot went wide of the goal but ricocheted off the back wall and bounced out toward DeSmith. It was eerily similar to the Denver goal which went off the backboards, off DeSmith's skate, and into the net. This time, however, DeSmith covered up the puck with his glove.

UNH's leading goal scorer, senior Austin Block (9th goal of season), drove the final nail into the UML coffin on a borderline brilliant-borderline desperate turnaround shot from the right faceoff circle. Jeff Silengo fed Block high in the slot, Block skated between a couple UML players to the faceoff circle, wheeled and fired. UNH 5, UML 2.

Video highlights of all the goals are available on

UNH Stars of the Game

#1 Star - Grayson Downing
~ Downing's first goal of the game was a thing of beauty. UNH was killing off a penalty when Kevin Goumas sent Downing in alone. Watch the replay and notice how Downing fakes the UML goalie Doug Carr by shifting his weight and beats him with a backhand shot.
~ Downing's second goal of the night came as he was parked all alone at the top of the crease and one-timed a centering pass from Austin Block.
~ Downing showed he was a gamer by playing the third period on a bum left leg.

#2 Star - Casey DeSmith
~ Casey DeSmith made 34 saves and looked sharp doing it. It was a critical bounce back performance after his short night against Denver last Saturday.

#3 Star - Austin Block
~ In just 13 games, Senior Austin Block has already scored 9 goals. In his first 3 seasons at UNH, he scored 10 goals combined.
~ Austin Block is the leading goal scorer in Hockey East competition. How many fans would have predicted that before the season began?

Points of Interest

~ There was an abundance of hitting, pushing and shoving after the whistle with UML appearing to be the instigator on most occasions. Look for a physical game Saturday night in Lowell.
~ In addition to the reliably packed student sections, most of the other seats at the Whitt were filled with appreciative fans.
~ There's a chance that Jay Camper will return to the lineup Saturday after missing three games following a hit to the head in the last game against Lowell.


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