Saturday, March 22, 2014

UNH Outplays Providence 3-1, Advances to Hockey East Championship Game

Kevin Goumas Pots 2 Goals
Justin Agosta Nets Game-Winner

BOSTON, MA - Sometimes "Do or Die" is a good thing. UNH's only chance at qualifying for the 2014 NCAA Playoffs is to win or go home. For a couple weeks now, they've known their overall record would not earn them an invitation to the NCAA's. Either win the Hockey East Championship or the season ends.

Winning the Lamoriello Trophy, and an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, has eluded UNH since 2003 when they defeated Boston University on a Tyson Teplitsky goal in overtime. Since then, the Wildcats have played in the Hockey East Championship game twice, in 2005 and 2007, each time losing to Boston College. With their persuasive 3-1 win over Providence College on Friday night, UNH earned the opportunity to win the Championship on Saturday against UMass-Lowell.

It's not that UNH has been unsuccessful since 2003. They have earned an invitation to the NCAA Playoffs 9 out of the last 10 seasons on the strength of their regular season record. Over that stretch, they were nationally ranked anywhere from #3 to #11 when the field for the NCAA's was announced. But this year is different. UNH is currently ranked #18 in the nation and that won't be good enough to get into the 16-team tournament. So, it's been do or die.

The first hurdle was to win the Hockey East Quarterfinal Series against a persistent, pesky Northeastern squad. After winning the first game 1-0 on a goal by freshman Tyler Kelleher and being edged 5-4 in Game 2, UNH played their final game of the season at the Whittemore Center last Sunday. Senior forward Kevin Goumas played one of the most energized games of his successful UNH career scoring a hat trick as UNH won 5-4 and eliminated Northeastern from the Hockey East Tournament. On to the semifinals at TD Garden for the first time since 2011.

In the post-game press conference following UNH's 3-1 victory over Providence, Kevin Goumas said:
“I’m just going out there and trying to make sure it’s not my last game, and leave it all out on the ice. That’s been on my mind the last week or so.”
The Second-Team Hockey East All-Star figured out a way to beat Providence's Jon Gillies, one of the premiere goalies in college hockey. Goumas used his explosive speed and nose for the net to beat Gillies twice on wraparound goals. Senior Justin Agosta, a stalwart on defense all season, scored the game-winning goal on a wrist shot from the point midway through the second period. In the final stanza, only one got past junior goalie Casey DeSmith as the UNH defense clamped down.

Last season, Providence College eliminated UNH from the Hockey East Tournament in the tightly-contested Quarterfinals. A year later, facing elimination and the end of their season, the Wildcats beat the 9th-Ranked Friars. Their playing life goes on.

1st Period

UNH outshoot Providence 9-5 as each team played conservatively.

2nd Period

12:55 - Kevin Goumas Scores Short-Handed Goal - UNH 1, Providence 0
~ With Justin Agosta in the penalty box for a cross-checking penalty, Goumas gathered a loose puck in the top of the slot in the UNH end. He raced through center ice moving to the right wing, skated around a Providence defender then behind the PC net. On a nifty maneuver, Goumas drew the puck to his backhand and beat Gillies on a wraparound shot.

6:29 - Justin Agosta Game-Winning Goal - UNH 2, Providence 0
~ Matt Willows dug the puck off the half-wall to Gillies right and fed a cross-ice pass to Justin Agosta just inside the PC blue line. Agosta's wrist shot through a multi-player screen deflected off the heel of a PC defenders skate and into the net.

00:01 - Kevin Goumas Wraps It Up - UNH 3, Providence 0
~ With the final seconds of the second period winding down, Goumas again carried the puck end-to-end and fired a shot on Gillies. After the save, the puck went behind the net, Nick Sorkin fed it to Goumas, and he scored his second wraparound goal of the game.

3rd Period

16:38 - Providence Scores Lone Goal - UNH 3, PC 1
~ Providence pressed UNH in the final period outshooting them 12-5 but only got one past Casey DeSmith.

Final 2 Minutes - Casey DeSmith Closes the Door - UNH 3, PC 1
~ Needing 2 goals to tie, Providence pulled Gillies with two minutes remaining. With the capable support of UNH defensemen Eric Knodel and Brett Pesce, DeSmith made a number of key saves.

Hockey East Championship Game

In the other Hockey East Semifinal, UMass-Lowell defeated Notre Dame 4-0. UNH will face Lowell in the Hockey East Championship Game at 7:00, Saturday night at the TD Garden in Boston. No doubt, the Wildcats will have the loss to Lowell in last season's NCAA Northeast Regional final in the back of their minds. Front and center will be another do or die game.


Post a Comment

<< Home

Web Site Hit Counter

Firefox 2