Saturday, October 17, 2015

Wildcats' Comeback Falls Short In OT; St. Lawrence Wins 3-2

Jamie Hill Short-Handed Goal
Sparks UNH Comeback

DURHAM, NH - The trend early on in the season continues for the Wildcats; fall down early, figure it out late. Whether that can be considered a bad trend or a good trend is left for your own discretion, but it certainly isn’t pretty.

The game tonight against #19 St. Lawrence ended with an overtime goal by Saints’ senior Christian Horn as he wristed a shot from the tops of the circles over Danny Tirone’s blocker for a 3-2 victory.

For the first ten minutes of the game the two teams played evenly, with a slight advantage in shots to St. Lawrence. But midway through the first the Saints took over. A gorgeous short side goal over Tirone’s shoulder by Gavin Bayreuther kicked it off and gave the Saints a 1-0 lead 10:39 into the first.

43 seconds later, St. Lawrence struck again. Brian Ward found a puck sitting in the crease behind a sprawled out Tirone and tucked it in to give the Saints a 2-0 lead.

To put it lightly, nothing was working for UNH. In every aspect of the game, UNH was out manned and out battled. Starting with breakouts in their own zone, none of the Wildcats were on the same page. It was as though they put repellant on their sticks and were trying to avoid playing the puck. Fundamentals were out the window and it was looking glum for the Wildcats

Moving forward to the second period, UNH again was outshot and outplayed. With two power play opportunities the Wildcats took three shots to contribute to the seven shots they took the entire period. Shot selection was another issue in the first two periods. This, I’ll credit to the defense of St. Lawrence for keeping UNH to the perimeter and not allowing quality opportunities. However, the Wildcats weren’t helping themselves with puck possession in the offensive zone.

At long last, the UNH team many spectators were expecting appeared. As the third period began there was a new mentality for the Wildcats. It was a team that wanted it; a team that was willing to push the limits to make a comeback, but in a calm and smart way. The fundamentals were there, the energy was there and the decision making was spot on.

After pushing all period long the Wildcats got on the board at 17:36 of the third on a wrap around shorthanded goal by Jamie Hill to cut the lead in half, 2-1. “In [scouting] we noticed that the goalie would over commit, so I thought if I would take it around the net I’d have more ice and I just got a lucky bounce off a guys skate.” Hill said after the game.

The momentum was with UNH and it showed. They began playing with confidence all over the ice and sure enough, it paid off. After going to the power play with just over three minutes left to play, even the special teams started to click.

From behind the goal line Kyle Smith threw a pass to the slot that found the stick of Maxim Gaudreault who made no mistake of pushing a shot to the top corner of the net to knot the score up 2-2. The Whittemore center was rocking and UNH looked like they had figured it out

Early on in overtime Dan Correale had a golden opportunity to finish off the game off of a pass by Tyler Kelleher, but an outstanding lateral save by Kyle Hayton stopped the 2 on 1 bid and the game continued on.

Shortly after, with 2:33 remaining in overtime Christian Horn sniped a shot over Tirone’s shoulder after entering the offensive zone and ruined the party at the Whittemore Center.

It’s still very early in the season, but UNH can’t afford these slow starts against difficult opponents. If they can find a way to play all 60 minutes the way they play in the third period, they’ll be a team no one will want to face this season.

Here are the video highlights courtesy of UNH Athletics:

UNH faces off against Clarkson University on Saturday night at the Whittemore Center.


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