Sunday, December 29, 2013

UNH Loses to Cornell in Florida College Hockey Classic

Jeff Silengo w/Goal & Assist
Against Cornell

For two teams who hadn't played in three weeks, the Big Red of Cornell and the UNH Wildcats came out of the gate with energy in the opening round of the Florida College Hockey Classic. UNH broke the ice just 5 minutes into the game.

The Casey Thrush-Kyle Smith-Jeff Silengo line entered the Cornell zone on a 3-on-2 break and Thrush snapped a shot off, with Smith parked in front of Cornell goalie Andy Iles. The shot was blocked and senior Jeff Silengo got the puck back out to freshman Matias Cleland at the left point. Cleland zipped a pass to Brett Pesce at the right point who flipped a shot toward the net. Kyle Smith tipped the puck to Silengo who was crashing the net to Iles' right. Silengo buried his shot despite being tightly defended.

With just over 11 minutes left in the opening period, Cornell was able to create a mismatch with their first line of Lowry (no relation)-Bardreau-McCarron out against UNH's fourth line of Kelleher-Camper-Bourque. Bardreau won the faceoff in the Cornell end, McCarron rushed through all three zones and worked a nifty give-and-go with Lowry. Lowry's backhand pass connected with McCarron's backhand and he flipped it over Casey DeSmith's blocker. Game tied 1-1. The period ended with UNH outshooting Cornell 17-9.

The uptempo pace continued into the second period. A little more than 2 minutes into the period, Cornell defenseman Reece Wilcox carried the puck end-to-end and dumped it behind DeSmith. The puck was tipped around the boards by Jeff Kubiak to Rodger Craig who passed it out to defenseman Joakim Ryan at the left point. Ryan flipped a wrister through a crowd of players and the puck got behind DeSmith. Cornell 2, UNH 1.

As the second period wound down, Matt Willows and Eric Freschi received matching penalties for hitting after the whistle. Shortly after, Kevin Goumas was called for slashing setting up a 4-on-3 Cornell power play. UNH successfully killed off the initial penalty and Willows, who had jumped onto the ice from the penalty box, was fed a lead pass by Grayson Downing. Willows carried the puck deep into the Cornell end but his centering pass was blocked. Ryan gathered the puck in front of the Cornell net and sent a long-range pass to Christian Hilbrich at the center ice faceoff circle. Hilbrich made a touch pass to Brian Ferlin as he crossed into the UNH zone. Ferlin fired an initial shot which DeSmith saved with his left leg pad, but Ferlin cleaned up the rebound for a 3-1 lead.

A couple minutes into the final period, UNH pulled to within one on a quirky goal by defenseman Justin Agosta. Senior captain Eric Knodel head-manned the puck to Agosta at the red line and Justin flipped it on net. The puck took a funny bounce and eluded Iles.

For the remainder of the third period, UNH had stretches of sustained pressure and outshot Cornell 18-6. But Iles was up to the test. With 1:26 left in regulation, UNH pulled DeSmith for an extra skater. UNH kept the puck in the Cornell end for about 20 seconds but did not get a shot on goal. Bardreau scored the empty-netter.

With the out-of-conference loss to Cornell, UNH's overall record fell to 9-10-1. Cornell, who is in 5th place in the ECAC, improved it's record to 8-4-2. The Wildcats will face Princeton Sunday afternoon at 4:05 in the Tournament's consolation game. Cornell faces Maine in the Championship Game.


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