UNH Dominates Merrimack 4-1: Goal-by-Goal
DURHAM, NH - Just two weekends ago, UNH was hovering near the bottom of the Hockey East standings and facing Boston University, the #2 team in the nation and #1 team in Hockey East. Up until then, there had been some bright spots in the Wildcats season. Underclassmen like sophomore Tyler Kelleher and freshmen Andrew Poturalski, Warren Foegele, Shane Eiserman and goalie Danny Tirone had shown steady progress. But to become a competitive team heading into the Hockey East Playoffs, UNH needed its seniors to step up. And that's exactly what they have done.
Beginning with a 4-3 victory over the BU Terriers at the Whittemore Center, UNH has gone on a four-game winning streak. They have outscored their opponents - BU, UConn, and Merrimack - 17 to 6. The Wildcats have clawed their way up the Hockey East standings and now sit in sole possession of 8th place. UNH can earn the home-ice advantage in the opening round of the Hockey East Playoffs with a win on Senior Night against Merrimack College.
Credit the four senior forwards for sparking UNH's late-season surge. Captain Matt Willows, who scored the game-winner Friday night, has scored 4 goals and 2 assists and earned a +3 rating during the four-game win streak. Jay Camper has scored 3 goals, including the game-winner against BU, added an assist and posted a +/- rating of +3. Casey Thrush has a goal, 2 assists, and a +4 rating. Grayson Downing, who suffered a severe ankle sprain at Vermont and missed the BU series, has contributed 4 assists and a +6 rating over the last three games.
Late Saturday afternoon will be a time to honor all the UNH seniors and their families. Durham native Ryan Randall, who helped stabilize a very young defensive core early in the season, will join Willows, Camper, Thrush, and Downing at center ice for one of the great college hockey traditions. UNH fans who will pack the Whittemore Center are hoping it won't be the last time they see the seniors skate on the Towse Rink. The prize is there for the taking. Just one more win and the Wildcats will be there next weekend.
Goal-by-Goal BreakdownPERIOD 1
Andrew Poturalski-12 PP (Assisted by Matias Cleland-10 & Tyler Kelleher-21)
10:44 of 1st Period - UNH 1, Merrimack 0 ~ On the first shot in this scoring sequence, Andrew Poturalski is wide open on the weak side and rifles a one-timer off a feed from Matias Cleland. ~ Then, Poturalski scrambles to keep the puck from leaving the zone and Cleland keeps it in at the blue line. ~ After a tap pass from Cleland, Poturalski turns on the afterburners, streaks down the slot, and blasts a slap shot past the right pad of Merrimack senior goalie Rasmus Tirronen.
Mathieu Tibbet (From Kolomatis & Henning)
5:28 of Period 2 - UNH 1, Merrimack 1
Matt Willows-18 (Assisted by Cameron Marks-9 & Dan Correale-11) 13:49 of 2nd Period - UNH 2, Merrimack 1 ~ Just before the goal is scored, freshman defenseman Cameron Marks sends a wrister from the blue line that was blocked right in front of the goal. ~ Dan Correale gathers the puck on the half-wall and feeds Marks for another attempt from the blue line. This time, Matt Willows is parked on the doorstep of the crease and redirects the shot past Tirronen.
Jay Camper-3 (Assisted by Warren Foegele-10) 15:13 of 2nd Period - UNH 3, Merrimack 1 ~ With an outstanding individual effort, freshman Warren Foegele steals the puck at the top of the slot, accelerates toward the goal and flips a backhand shot at Tirronen. ~ Camper races down the slot and bangs the rebound over Tirronen's glove.
Casey Thrush-6 ENG (Assisted by Shane Eiserman-9 & Grayson Downing-14)
19:48 of 3rd Period - UNH 4, Merrimack 1 ~ Senior Grayson Downing, coming off a severe ankle sprain, shows great mobility in the UNH zone. He steals the puck, wheels and sends a backhand pass off the half-wall. Junior Dan Correale sends Thrush off on a breakaway with a pass off the sideboards. ~ Thrush hauls butt down the ice and is hauled down by a Merrimack player. If the Merrimack goalie had been in net, Thrush would have been awarded a penalty shot. With the net empty, Thrush was credited with the goal.
With the victory, UNH improved its Hockey East record to 9-11-1. They are in 8th place in Hockey East one point ahead of Maine and Connecticut . Overall, UNH is 14-17-2. Merrimack's record in Hockey East is now 5-13-3 and they are in next to last place, two points ahead of UMass. Their overall record is 14-15-4.