UNH Comeback Falls Short - Providence Wins 6-5
DURHAM, NH - Saturday evening was a golden opportunity for UNH and Providence College. With a win, UNH (Overall: 14-5-2; Hockey East: 9-4-1) might have improved their 3rd in the nation ranking as #2 BC was beaten by UMass 5-2 on Friday night.
PC (Overall: 10-9-3; Hockey East: 8-5-2) was coming off a 2-1 loss to a resurgent UMass-Lowell team on Thursday night. They needed a win to maintain a position in the top 4 of Hockey East. More importantly, PC wanted to move to within 1 point of UNH and to expunge a 17-game winless streak against UNH dating back to 2007.
Over the first 2 periods, UNH's trademark strengths - shutdown team defense and outstanding goaltending - were notably absent. PC smoked UNH for 4 unanswered goals. Casey DeSmith, the #1 goalie in Hockey East action in both save percentage and goals against, gave up 4 goals on only 15 shots on goal.
After the 4th PC goal, DeSmith was pulled from the game and replaced by Junior Jeff Wyer. The situation was eerily similar to the UNH-Denver game in which DeSmith was replaced by Wyer after giving up 3 goals on 8 shots on goal. Wyer backstopped UNH's come from behind, 6-4 win over Denver, allowing only 1 goal on 19 shots. This time around, Wyer kept UNH in the game but UNH's comeback fell one goal short as PC won 6-5.
On their first shift of the game, the Sorkin-Pavelski-Thrush line generated an excellent scoring opportunity. Thrush stole the puck from a defenseman in the UNH end, skated down the right wing of the neutral ice and into the PC zone. Thrush snapped a wrister from the top of the faceoff circle to the left of PC goalie Jon Gillies. The shot went just wide and bounced off the backwall.
Nick Sorkin gathered the puck off the backwall and backhanded a pass to Thrush behind the PC net. Thrush laid a centering, backhand pass to Scott Pavelski parked in the low slot.
Pavelski one-timed a wrist shot low to the ice. Gillies, who was sprawled on his stomach, managed to redirect the shot to the corner. At that point, UNH held a 4-2 advantage in shots on goal.
14:32 - PC Goal: Shane Luke (3rd goal of the season).
The Correale-Camper-Willows line, along with TvR and Pesce were on the ice. Correale gathered the puck along the halfwall and began to move the puck out of the UNH end. Correale attempted a backhand pass to Camper but it was intercepted by Ross Mauermann.
Luke collected the puck off the halfwall to the right of DeSmith and took it low toward the goalline. Freshman Brett Pesce looked like he would stay with Luke but Nick Saracino impeded Pesce's progress. An interference call on Saracino might have been justified but no call was made.
Meanwhile, DeSmith was hugging the right post, deep in his net. Luke shot a quick wrister from the hashmarks on the sidewall side of the faceoff circle. The shot beat DeSmith high on his glove side. Both Luke and DeSmith looked surprised by the outcome of a fairly innocent shot. PC 1, UNH 0.
8:10 - False Alarm:
UNH was on its first power play of the game. Demopoulas won a faceoff against John Henrion to the left of Gillies and the puck went into the corner. Parisi tried to clear the puck behind the PC net but freshman Maxim Gaudreault intercepted it and made a soft pass to Henrion at the top of the crease.
Henrion fired a one-timer at Gillies who was hugging the post with his left side. The shot actually hit the side of the net several inches from the post but the foghorn signalling a goal started to blare.
After a stoppage in play nearly 2 minutes later, the play was reviewed (the first of many referee reviews in the game) and, of course, the "no goal" was confirmed.
00:01 - A Near Miss by UNH:
In the final two minutes of the 1st period, UNH was on its second power play of the game. With the clock ticking down to the final few seconds, Trevor van Riemsdyk blasted a slap shot from the left point.
The shot glanced off PC defenseman Alex Velischek's skate and drifted to the low slot to Gillies' left. A wide-open Grayson Downing sent a forehand shot that slid directly across the crease behind a sprawling Gillies.
The puck may have glanced off the far post but it did not go in.
Shots on Goal at the end of the 1st period: UNH 13, PC 8.
Second Period: The first 10 minutes of the second period was one of the worst stretches of play for UNH all season.
19:11 - PC Goal: Brandon Tanev (3rd goal of the season).
The puck was tapped across the redline in the direction of the UNH end. Luke and Senior Captain Connor Hardowa were in a footrace to reach the puck along the sidewall. Luke won the race.
Having gotten around Hardowa, Luke poked the puck into the corner to the right of DeSmith. Luke collected the puck and skated around the net behind DeSmith. Luke was still maintaining a full stride advantage over Hardowa.
Luke centered a pass to Tanev skating down the slot. Senior Alternate Captain Brett Kostolansky was protecting the crease in front of DeSmith and tried to intercept the pass but it got past him.
Tanev sent a forehand, one-timer between DeSmith pads. DeSmith was down on his knees in the butterfly position. PC 2, UNH 0.
During the entire game, Connor Hardowa was uncharacteristically off his game and usual skating pace. One wonders whether Hardowa was 100% healthy.
16:35 - PC Goal: Nick Saracino (3rd goal of the season).
With the Gaudreault-Goumas-Henrion line plus Hardowa and Kostolansky on the ice, Nick Saracino carried the puck across the UNH blueline. Hardowa, Kostolansky, and Goumas were in a solid backchecking position.
Saracino blew around Hardowa along the sidewall to the right of DeSmith. Kostolansky tried to skate over to cover Saracino but he was already at the bottom of the faceoff circle.
Saracino knived to the front of the crease, all alone, and beat DeSmith over his right leg pad and blocker. Again, DeSmith was on his knees in the butterfly position. PC 3, UNH 0.
11:31 - PC Goal: Derek Army (9th goal of the season).
At 13:08, Grayson Downing was penalized for holding an opponent's stick. That put one of UNH's most effective penalty killers in the penalty box.
UNH killed off the first minute and 1/2 without allowing a PC shot on goal.
After the puck went out of play, there was a faceoff to the right of DeSmith. Derek Army won the draw and tapped the puck to Saracino to his right. Saracino passed the puck back to Parisi at the left point.
Parisi passed cross-ice to Shamansky at the right point who skated the puck to the top of the faceoff circle to the left of DeSmith. Goumas came out to challenge him and Shamansky made a perfect pass to Army at the faceoff dot to the right of DeSmith.
Brett Pesce tried to block Army's wrist shot by falling to his knees but it went past him. DeSmith tried to slide from his left to right as the pass crossed the slot but Army beat DeSmith over his blocker. PC 4, UNH 0.
DeSmith was replaced by Jeff Wyer following the 4th goal.
A sidenote: Junior Derek Army, who is the leading goal scorer for PC is the son of former PC Head Coach Tim Army. Derek played for his father in his freshman season but Tim Army was fired at the end of that season and replaced by Nate Leaman.
9:08 - UNH Goal: John Henrion (8th goal of the season). Assists: Kevin Goumas (20th assist of season), Justin Agosta (8th assist of season)
UNH finally got on the scoreboard halfway through the second period. The teams were playing 4-on-4 after matching penalties. Henrion, Goumas, Knodel and Agosta were on the ice for UNH.
Goumas and Henrion entered the PC zone. A galloping Goumas carried the puck along the halfwall gaining a step on the PC defender and skated it behind Gillies and the PC net.
Goumas came out the other side of the net and backhanded a terrific pass across the crease to Henrion at the bottom of the opposite faceoff circle. Henrion blasted a one-timer over the glove of Gillies. PC 4, UNH 1.
7:59 - PC Goal: Derek Army (10th goal of the season).
The teams were still playing 4-on-4. Block, Correale, Hardowa and TvR were on the ice.
TvR made an end-to-end rush into the PC zone but was bumped off the puck behind the PC net. He was trapped down low and PC broke out on a 4-on-3 rush.
Shamanski carried the puck to the top of the faceoff circle to the left of Jeff Wyer and made a cross-ice pass to a trailing Tom Parisi.
Parisi fired a wrister from the top of the slot and Wyer made an outstanding left pad save. However, Army and Kyle Murphy were left uncovered in front of Wyer and Army poked it home. PC 5, UNH 1.
2:57 - UNH Goal: Maxim Gaudreault (2nd goal of the season). Assists: John Henrion (7th assist of season), Justin Agosta (9th assist of season)
UNH was on a power play with the Gaudreault-Goumas-Henrion line plus Agosta and Knodel on the ice. Goumas controlled the puck along the halfwall and sent a pass out to Knodel in the high slot.
Knodel teed up one of his patented slap shots and an unfortunate Stefan Demopoulos blocked it with his left hand. Demopoulas immediately dropped to the ice in severe pain but the play continued.
Knodel gathered the blocked shot and passed it to Agosta at the right point. Agosta made a nifty cross-ice pass to Henrion low in the faceoff circle to the right of Gillies.
Henrion one-timed the pass across to Gaudreault parked on the doorstep to the left of Gillies. Gaudreault banged it into the open net behind Gillies. PC 5, UNH 2.
Shots on Goal at the end of the 2nd period: UNH 27, PC 20.
Third Period: UNH whittled away at PC's lead throughout the third and made it exciting at the end. Coach Umile moved Nick Sorkin from the 4th line up to left wing on the 1st line. Dalton Speelman was dropped down to the 4th line. The juggling lead to some UNH chances.
17:07 - UNH Goal: Dalton Speelman (5th goal of the season). Assists: Casey Thrush (7th assist of season), Scott Pavelski (2nd assist of season)
The Speelman-Pavelski-Thrush controlled the puck in the PC end with effective cycling. Pavelski passed the puck from the corner out to Hardowa but he did not control the puck. It went over his stick and into the neutral zone.
Hardowa gathered it at the redline and made a cross-ice pass to Thrush at the left point. Thrush skated to the top of the faceoff circle to the right of Gillies and shot the puck into a cluster of players in front of Gillies.
Gillies made a save but the rebound went right back to Thrush who backhanded it toward Gillies. Gillies made another save but left the rebound in the crease.
Dalton Speelman batted at the puck twice and it went past Gillies. PC 5, UNH 3.
16:13 - PC Goal: Kyle Murphy (3rd goal of the season).
Less than a minute after UNH got to within 2 goals, PC regained a three-goal lead. Murphy head-manned a pass to Tanev at the UNH blueline. Tanev passed to Shamansky coming down the right wing.
Shamansky got around a back-checking Brett Pesce and fired on Wyer. The UNH goalie made the initial save but the rebound went out to an uncovered Murphy at the top of the crease. PC 6, UNH 3.
5:56 - UNH Goal: Casey Thrush (Unassisted. 3rd goal of the season).
Deep in the UNH zone, Derek Army sent a pass back up toward the blueline. It went by everybody and landed on the stick of Casey Thrush who had just jumped onto the ice.
Thrush raced down the left wing, waited for Gillies to go down, and lifted a wrister over Gillies blocker. PC 6, UNH 4.
00:13 - UNH Goal: Kevin Goumas (10th goal of the season) Assists: Justin Agosta (10th assist of season), Eric Knodel (3rd assist of season)
UNH continued to pressure PC until the bitter end. With 1:52 left in the game, Jeff Wyer was pulled from the net for an extra UNH attacker. UNH controlled the puck for the remainder of the game and rattled off 4 more shots on goal.
With the remaining seconds ticking away, Knodel, who was positioned at the middle of the blueline, fed a pass to Agosta at the top of the faceoff circle to the right of Gillies.
Agosta made a spin move and backhanded a pass across the slot to a wide-open Kevin Goumas to the side of the net. Goumas poked it into the open left side of the net. PC 6, UNH 5.
Final Shots on Goal: UNH 42, PC 27.
Video highlights of some of the goals are available courtesy of UNHAthletics.