#5 UNH Loses Season Series to Providence
|UNH's Casey DeSmith Stops Penalty Shot (Photo: Mike Lowry)|
PROVIDENCE, RI - In the first two games of the season series between UNH (Overall: 16-8-3; Hockey East: 11-7-2) and Providence College (Overall: 11-10-6; Hockey East: 9-6-5), the Wildcats made mistakes that cost them and needed to be corrected. In the 6-5 loss on Jan. 19th, they lacked intensity and speed in the early going, played inconsistent team defense, and gave up the first 4 goals of the game. Last Sunday afternoon, UNH managed to earn a point on a tying goal late in the third period but their league-leading penalty kill gave up 2 goals.
Tonight, in a half-empty Schneider Arena on the Providence campus, UNH corrected it's previous problems but suffered a frustrating 1-0 loss on a PC goal in the waning minutes of the game. The intensity and effort were there, the team defense gave up few prime scoring opportunities, and the penalty kill units shut down the PC power play. Still, UNH lost to PC for the second time this season.
The highlight reel play for UNH was Casey DeSmith stopping a penalty shot bid by Ross Mauermann with 55 seconds left in the second period (see photo above). The low point was Stefan Demopoulos' goal with only 2:48 left in the game.
With the loss, UNH did not add to its 24 points in Hockey East competition. UNH remains in a tie with Merrimack for second place in Hockey East. UNH trails first place Boston College by one point. Both Merrimack and BC have a game in hand. UNH is now ahead of third-place Providence by only one point.
Losing the season series with PC is bad enough - that hasn't happened since the 1995-96 season. What's more frustrating is the realization that UNH has only one game remaining with any of the top 6 teams in Hockey East. The matchup at BC next Sunday is the last regular season game against a top-6 team. UNH no longer directly controls its fate in the battle for home-ice in the Hockey East Quarterfinals. They must win most of the remaining games with the lower-tier teams - Vermont, UMass, and Maine and hope either BC, Merrimack, Providence, BU, and/or UMass Lowell loses several games.
The Forward Lines & Defensive Pairings Starting Lineup: Dan Correale (LW) - Grayson Downing (C) - Austin Block (RW); Brett Kostolansky (LD)- Connor Hardowa (RD); Casey DeSmith (Goalie)
Forward Lines: Sorkin-Goumas-Henrion; Speelman-Camper-Willows; Thrush-Pavelski-Gaudreault; Defensive Pairings: Knodel-Pesce; Agosta-Trevor van Riemsdyk.
~ The Correale-Downing-Block line was the 1st line on paper. However, Coach Umile sent the Sorkin-Goumas-Henrion line out at the beginning of each period. Both coaches appeared to be maneuvering to ensure a matchup between each team's #1 line.
~ The third and fourth UNH lines were the ones that played together in the final period of Sunday's game against PC. Speelman played left wing on the third line and Thrush played on the fourth line. Otherwise, all the forward lines and defensive pairings were the same as last Sunday.
~ Given the absence of goal-scoring tonight, look for one or more of the forward lines to be juggled for the game against Boston College.
With just over a minute left in the second period, sophomore Ross Mauermann (PC's 2nd leading scorer) broke into the UNH zone on a partial breakaway.
As Mauermann was motoring down the slot to Casey DeSmith's right, 2nd-year defenseman Justin Agosta made a valiant effort to dive and sweep the puck away from Mauermann.
Mauermann attempted a shot and fell over Agosta in the same instant. From my vantage point at the other end of the rink, it looked like Agosta may have gotten a piece of the puck. In any event, the referee immediately signalled for a penalty shot.
On the penalty shot, Mauermann moved from his left to his right midway into the slot and attempted to flip a backhand shot past DeSmith. Casey made the glove save.
3rd Period - 4:00. Best UNH Bid: John Henrion.
Senior right winger John Henrion carried the puck into the PC zone and gained a step on the PC defender.
As Henrion reached the top of the faceoff circle to Jon Gillies' left, on the halfwall side of the circle, he ripped a 3/4 slap shot.
The puck whistled just inches past the goal post to Gillies' right. A few inches in the other direction and it would have beat Gillies.
3rd Period - 2:48. Providence Goal: Stefan Demopoulos (6th goal of the season).
Mark Jankowski had the puck in the midslot in front of Casey DeSmith but Connor Hardowa and Brett Kostolansky were clogging up the area directly in front of DeSmith.
Jankowski spun and passed over to the faceoff circle to DeSmith's right. It's not clear whether Jankowski saw Demopoulos at the top of the faceoff circle or was just hoping a teammate would be there.
Demopoulos was skating at full speed as he reached the faceoff circle. He had just jumped onto the ice on a line change.
Austin Block was positioned near the top of faceoff circle to the right of DeSmith and turned around just in time to see Demopoulas zoom past him. Demopoulas fired a one-timer that beat DeSmith just over his right leg pad. Providence 1, UNH 0.
~ Look for an analysis on The UNH Men's Hockey Blog of what worked for UNH in the 1-0 loss to Providence, what didn't work, and what might work in future games.