Saturday, October 19, 2013

#13 UNH Hockey Ties #5 Michigan 1-1

#13 UNH vs #5 Michigan -  Oct 18, 2013

DURHAM, NH - Through two periods last night at the Whittemore Center, two of the top teams in the country played each other fairly even. Michigan scored its only goal at 15:32 of the 1st period on a power play. UNH's Nick Sorkin tied it up less than two minutes into the 2nd burying a rebound off a shot from senior defenseman Justin Agosta (see highlight video below).

At the end of two periods the shots on goal were 19-15 in favor of UNH. In the final stanza, UNH cranked up the offense, played shutdown defense, and junior Matt Willows hit the post thanks to a beautiful setup by Trevor van Riemsdyk 4 minutes into the period. UNH outshot Michigan 14-2 in the third period and the Wolverines barely hung on to the tie.

In overtime, UNH held a modest territorial edge thanks, in part, to two dominant shifts by the Dan Correale-Nick Sorkin-Matt Willows line. The stingy UNH defense only allowed 1 shot on goal - a routine save by Jeff Wyer. UNH had two bids to win it, one by Kevin Goumas off a nice lead pass from freshman Tyler Kelleher and a superb wrap-around shot by Grayson Downing with only seconds remaining.

Several UNH players played outstanding games including:
Jeff Wyer: 17 saves. He kept UNH in the game in the first period.
Nick Sorkin: 1 goal, 2 SOG.
Grayson Downing: 6 SOG including 2 hit posts.
Kevin Goumas: 1 assist, 2 SOG.
Matt Willows: 3 SOG including 1 hit post.
Dan Correale: 2 SOG including a penalty shot.

My 3 UNH Stars go to three Wildcat defenders who played exceptionally well at both ends of the ice. Their performance was all the more impressive because they each skated double shifts as UNH went primarily with only 5 defensemen.

#1 Star - Trevor van Riemsdyk
UNH fans have grown accustomed to TvR's unique, two-way abilities. When he is playing at the top of his game, like he did last night, he does some things with the puck which are hard to describe. Just look at these video highlights:

#2 Star - Justin Agosta
In his three seasons in the UNH lineup (he did not play his freshman year), Justin Agosta has quietly developed into a steady defender in his own zone. He's tough along the boards and behind the net and is rarely out of position. As the video highlights show, he also passes the puck extremely well.

#3 Star - Brett Pesce
Since joining UNH as a 17-year-old, "true" freshman, Brett Pesce's progress has been remarkable. The 3rd round draft pick of the Carolina Hurricanes plays stifling defense in his own zone, thanks to his amazing stick work and positioning. The shutdown defenseman is not a stay-at-home defenseman. Witness his ability to carry the puck out of his own end in these video highlights:

UNH and Michigan face off again tonight at 7:00 at the Whittemore Center. The third-ranked Wolverines now know they will be in for a battle.


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