UNH Downs Northeastern 5-4; Advances to Hockey East Semifinal
DURHAM, NH - It's entirely fitting that Kevin Goumas, Nick Sorkin, Matt Willows, Eric Knodel, and Brett Pesce were on the ice protecting a one-goal lead in the waning seconds of UNH's clutch victory over Northeastern University. With a trip to the Hockey East Semifinals at the TD Garden on the line, the top forward line and defensive pair had already logged ridiculous amounts of minutes of ice time. All had contributed to one or more of UNH's 5 goals. In the end, Goumas was at the dot for the final faceoff, Willows intercepted a clearing pass and flicked a shot at the empty net, the buzzer sounded, and the UNH Hockey Community celebrated.
1st Period16:31 - Nick Sorkin Scores Game's 1st Goal - UNH 1, Northeastern 0 ~ Josh Seguin of College Hockey News has tabulated a remarkable statistic. In the 18 games that the Sorkin-Goumas-Willows line has played together this season, they have scored 29 goals and 41 assists. ~ On only their third shift of the game, Sorkin-Goumas-Willows stormed into the Northeastern zone on a 3-on-2 break. Goumas fed Sorkin on the left wing just as they crossed the blue line. ~ As Sorkin carried the puck to the top of the faceoff circle to NU goalie Clay Witt's right, he could have shot or fed a cross-ice pass to Willows wide open on the right wing. Sorkin snapped a wrister beating Witt low to the ice past his left leg pad.
14:48 - Kevin Goumas Snipes Short-Handed Goal - UNH 2, NU 0 ~ Just a minute after UNH's first goal, sophomore Kyle Smith was penalized for tripping. ~ After Brett Pesce blocked a shot early in the Northeastern power play, Goumas raced the puck through the neutral zone and crossed the NU blue line to Witt's right. Despite being on the off-wing, the left-handed Goumas fired a shot just inside the left goal post. It was Goumas' 15th goal of the season and the first of three for the night.
6:51 - Northeastern Gets on the Scoreboard - UNH 2, NU 1 ~ After being shut out on Friday night, Northeastern adopted an offensive strategy of maneuvering the puck below the UNH goal line behind goalie Casey DeSmith in Game 2 and 3. Several of the 8 goals NU scored on Saturday and Sunday originated with one of their forwards making a play from along the end boards. ~ At the 7 minute mark of the first period, Torin Snydeman flipped an innocent looking back hand from below the goal line toward the front of the UNH net. There were no NU players anywhere near the front of the goal - freshman UNH defenseman Matias Cleland was protecting that area. ~ As the puck approached DeSmith, it went behind his stick paddle and Cleland may have inadvertently kicked the paddle slightly. The puck squirted between DeSmith's legs.
2:47 - Kevin Goumas Tips in His 2nd Goal - UNH 3, NU 1 ~ After the game, Coach Umile said "Kevin Goumas was like possessed tonight, the way he played. He played great. He played hard defensively, he was all over the puck and he was a tenacious forechecker." ~ A prime example of Goumas' determination came on his second goal of the night. With his line buzzing around the NU net, Goumas dug the puck out of the corner to Witt's right, fed a pass out to Sorkin at the faceoff dot, and skated toward the low slot. ~ Sorkin tapped a back hand pass to Pesce who rifled a slap shot from just inside the blue line. Goumas beat the NU defender to the net and tipped the shot past Witt.
2nd Period15:32 - Northeastern Draws to Within 1 - UNH 3, NU 2 ~ Northeastern only had 7 shots on goal in the second period (UNH had 6 SOG) but they made two of them count. Early in the period, Braden Pimm fired a shot from near the low slot and freshman Mike Szmatula snapped the rebound over DeSmith.
5:33 - Northeastern Ties It Up - UNH 3, NU 3 ~ Toward the end of the period, Northeastern entered the UNH zone on a 4-on-3 break. Mobile defenseman Colton Saucerman snapped a wrist shot through traffic from the faceoff circle to DeSmith's left. ~ Braden Pimm and Mike McMurtry were parked in the low slot with Justin Agosta defending. Saucerman's shot appeared to ricochet off Pimm's stick, then deflect off McMurtry's past DeSmith.
3rd Period16:20 - Kevin Goumas Hat Trick Goal - UNH 4, NU 3 ~ With McMurtry in the penalty box for tripping, UNH's #1 Power Play Unit - Sorkin-Goumas-Willow-Pesce-Knodel - went to work. Initially, Sorkin took a shot from the corner that was steered aside by Witt. ~ Knodel went deep into the opposite corner, stopped the puck, sent it around the dasher behind the NU net and out to Goumas at the half wall. ~ Goumas circled out to the blueline, accelerated to the top of the slot, and smashed a slap shot beating Witt low past his blocker.
6:19 - Brett Pesce Nets Game-Winning Goal - UNH 5, NU 3 ~ The game-winning play began with Nick Sorkin at the red line flipping a pass to Matt Willows racing toward the NU blue line. Willows gathered the puck and had Brett Pesce coming up on his right with only one NU defender back. ~ Willows went to the top of the faceoff circle to Witt's right, drawing the defender toward him, and snapped a shot at Witt. ~ Witt made the initial save but the rebound went to the charging Pesce who knocked a back hand shot home.
3:50 - Northeastern Battles Back to Within 1 Goal - UNH 5, NU 4 ~ Mike Szmatula, a strong candidate for Hockey East Rookie of the Year, potted his 15th goal of the season near the end of regulation. ~ Szmatula and Kevin Roy entered the UNH zone with Matias Cleland and Justin Agosta in a strong defensive position. ~ Cleland kept Szmatula to the outside but as Matias went to poke check the puck, Szmatula drew it past him. Szmatula then went across the slot and beat DeSmith over his outstreched stick.
3:04 - Eric Knodel's Apparent Goal Disallowed - UNH 5, NU 4 ~ UNH almost got an insurance goal with time winding down. Sophomore Dan Correale fed a cross ice pass to Eric Knodel at the left point. Knodel launched a 3/4 slap shot that beat Witt. ~ After an extended review of the video replay, the referees ruled that Witt had been interfered with and the goal was disallowed. Although no one could have known at the time, UNH ended up not needing the goal.