Monday, November 09, 2015

UNH Captain's Corner: Disappointing Trip to Michigan State

UNH Captain Collin MacDonald

After impressive victories against previously undefeated Union College and Merrimack College on successive weekends, the UNH Wildcats flew out to Michigan State for a pair of out-of-conference games. UNH entered the games with the 5th best offense in Division I with a goals per game average of 4.50. Junior Tyler Kelleher lead the nation in scoring with 13 points and sophomore Andrew Poturalski was the second leading scorer with 12 points.

So, it came as a big surprise when the Michigan State Spartans shut out UNH 5-0 on Friday night. It was the first time the Wildcats had been shut out since a 4-0 loss to Maine on January 24, 2015. Michigan State outshot UNH 42-25. Here's the link to a report of the game, including video highlights: Michigan State Dominates UNH 5-0.

On Saturday night, UNH quickly fell behind on a Michigan State goal just 32 seconds after the opening faceoff. The Spartans went ahead 2-0 midway through the first period. UNH freshman Chris Miller, a native of Windham, NH, broke the ice for the Wildcats with 7 minutes left in the first and Tyler Kelleher tied it up with a power play goal early in the second.

After Michigan State answered with 2 more goals, UNH came back again on goals by Dan Correale and Andrew Poturalski. The Spartans stormed back with 2 more goals plus an empty-net goal for a 7-4 victory. For the second night in a row, Michigan State generated nearly twice as many shots on goal as UNH - 43 to 24. Here's a game report including video highlights: "UNH Swept by Michigan State 7-4"

After the team returned to Durham, I had an opportunity to interview UNH Captain Collin MacDonald about the difficult weekend.

Mike Lowry ("C-H-C"): It almost goes without saying that the two games against Michigan State were the most lop-sided losses of the season. They outscored UNH 12 to 4 and they generated nearly twice as many shots on goal each night. What did Michigan State do to make them such a formidable opponent?

Collin MacDonald: Credit to Michigan State, they played hard and won battles all over the ice. That being said, Friday night wasn’t a good effort on our part and we felt embarrassed. Saturday night we battled hard to come back, but it wasn’t the outcome we wanted. All we can do is learn from it and move on.

Mike Lowry: On most of the 11 scoring plays (excluding the empty net goal), the Michigan State goal scorer was no more than one or two strides from the UNH net, sometimes uncovered. What does the team need to do to improve defensive coverage in the scoring zone?

Collin MacDonald: We have to commit to playing harder in our zone, plain and simple. It starts with back checking hard. We have to pick up sticks in front of the net, and make plays to get out of our zone. It’s not just on our defensemen; it has to be a team effort.

Lowry: It was reported that Adam Clark missed both Michigan State games due to a bruised shoulder. When does the team anticipate he'll be able to return to action?

MacDonald: I’m not 100% sure where Clarky is at as far as making a return to the lineup. It’s tough to see anyone on our team get hurt. All I know is that he’s a great guy and he’s committed to getting healthy and helping us win in anyway he can.

Lowry: Chris Miller, a non-scholarship freshman, has been productive on the fourth line scoring 2 goals and 2 assists in 5 games. For those fans who haven't seen him play yet, would you describe the strengths of his game?

MacDonald: The boys are extremely happy for Millsy. His play has been great since he’s been thrown into the lineup. He waited for an opportunity, and has definitely made the most of it. He’s very fast, has a very good shot, plays a two way game, and makes plays with his feet and awareness out there. On top of all that, he’s an incredible person and a selfless teammate.

UNH's overall record has fallen to 3-4-1. The Wildcats return to Hockey East action on Saturday night at Merrimack College.


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