Matt Willows, UNH Scorch #19 Nebraska-Omaha 5-2
|UNH's Matt Willows|
Scores Hat Trick
After being outplayed and outscored last night, the University of Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks made key adjustments in their game plan: ~ Spread out and utilize the larger ice surface at the Whittemore Center. ~ Keep UNH players away from the front of the net. ~ Make plays from behind UNH goalie Casey DeSmith As a result, UNO matched UNH stride-for-stride and took a 2-1 lead early in the third period.
The Mavericks successfully kept UNH from tying the game over the next 10 minutes. But then, junior Matt Willows ignited a dramatic come-from-behind victory with the first of his three goals, with a little more than 6 minutes left in the game.
In all, UNH scored 11 goals over two nights against 19th-ranked Nebraska-Omaha. Earlier in the week, Coach Umile and players talked about the need to find the back of the net. Mission accomplished.
1st Period6:09 - UNO's Archibald Scores First Goal - UNH 0, UNO 1 ~ Like deja vu, leading scorer Josh Archibald broke the ice with his 14th goal of season. ~ Archibald set up behind the UNH net and tried to flip a backhand out front. Matias Cleland blocked it but it ricocheted back to Archibald. He flipped the puck again but this time it appeared to go off defenseman Brett Pesce's glove and over DeSmith's shoulder.
2nd Period18:08 - Casey Thrush Pots 2nd Goal in Two Nights - UNH 1, UNO 1 ~ Freshman defenseman Matias Cleland set the scoring play up by intercepting a UNO clearing pass just inside the blueline. Cleland swept the puck toward UNO goalie Kirk Thompson. ~ Both Thrush and freshman Collin Bourque were in front of the net and Bourque tipped it to Thrush who buried it. ~ It was Thrush's 6th goal of the season.
00:17 - UNH Goalie Casey DeSmith Makes Save of the Game - UNH 1, UNO 1 ~ Over the final 32 seconds of the 2nd Period, UNO had a 2-man advantage with Dalton Speelman and Justin Agosta in the penalty box. ~ With Goumas, Thrush, and Knodel on the penalty kill, UNO pressured UNH deep in the zone. ~ Jake Guentzel was wide open on DeSmith's left but Casey flashed his glove - robbery.
3rd PeriodFirst 2 Minutes - UNH Kills Off 5-on-3 Power Play ~ At the end of the second period, Kevin Goumas was penalized for slashing. This prolonged UNO's 5-on-3 advantage into the beginning of the third period. ~ First off, Knodel, Willows and Thrush denied UNO for 1 minute. ~ Next up, Trevor van Riemsdyk, Downing and Correale killed off another 40 seconds.
17:39 - UNO Grabs Lead - UNH 1, UNO 2 ~ After failing to score on the 5-on-3 advantage, UNO still had a 4-on-3 power play. ~ This time, Ryan Walters converted a one-timer from the faceoff circle to DeSmith's left.
6:12 - Matt Willows Pots 1st of 3 Goals - UNH 2, UNO 2 ~ UNO kept UNH at bay for 10 minutes and clung to their 2-1 lead. But then, Brock Montpetit was called for interference. ~ UNH's first power play unit maintained the pressure. Sorkin, Goumas, and Willows buzzed around the UNO net. ~ On a tic-tac-toe play, Sorkin passed to Goumas who sent the puck across the crease to Willows on the doorstep. Willows buried it.
4:32 - Matt Willows Scores Game-Winner - UNH 3, UNO 2 ~ Willows and Goumas stormed into the UNO zone on a 2-on-1 break. ~ Willows feigned a pass to Goumas forcing the UNO goalie to commmit. He then snapped a shot over Thompson's leg pad.
2:54 - Nick Sorkin Skewers UNO - UNH 4, UNO 2 ~ With just under 4 minutes remaining in regulation, Brock Montpetit took an ill-advised, high-sticking penalty - his second penalty in three minutes. It was costly. ~ In a near instant replay of their previous power play goal, Sorkin, Goumas and Willows executed a dandy passing sequence ending in Sorkin burying a rebound. ~ Nick Sorkin is UNH's top goal-scorer with 12.
1:44 - Willows Completes Hat Trick with ENG - UNH 5, UNO 2 ~ With 2 minutes left, UNO pulled their goalie for an extra skater. UNH stopped them from getting the puck deep in the UNH zone and Kevin Goumas collected it just inside the blueline. ~ Kevin Goumas broke through the neutral zone and fed a cross-ice pass to Willows wide open on the right wing. ~ Willows glided into the UNO end and flicked the puck into the open net. ~ Willows is now UNH's second leading goal-scorer with 11.
With back-to-back wins over 19th-ranked UNO, UNH improved it's overall record to 12-10-1. Nebraska-Omaha drops to 8-9-1. Look for UNH to, once again, break into the top 20 when the polls come out early next week. Next up for the Wildcats is the Riverstone Cup against in-state rival Dartmouth. Faceoff is at 5:00 PM next Saturday at the Verizon Wireless Arena in Manchester, NH.