UNH Wildcats Take 3 of 4 Points on the Weekend Over Rival Maine
DURHAM, NH - Finally, UNH hockey produced a 60-minute, full team effort performance, and to no surprise it resulted in a solid victory. Goaltending from Danny Tirone, defensive play and the high powered offense all came together and gave the 6,000 fans at White Out The Whitt something to go home smiling about.
The nation’s leading scorer Andrew Poturalski kicked things off for the Wildcats with a goal 3:29 into the first period. After receiving a drop pass from Tyler Kelleher, Poturalski wristed a shot towards goal that Maine goaltender Rob McGovern struggled to handle, as the puck dribbled behind him past the goal line to give the Wildcats a 1-0 lead.
At 10:43 of the first, UNH was handed an early holiday gift from the Maine defenders. After a defenseman broke his stick on the play, Maine found themselves short a defender as he headed to the bench for a replacement stick. Maxim Gaudreault was all alone standing at the offensive blue line and Kyle Smith found him streaking into the offensive zone with a tape-to-tape pass. Gaudreault loaded his slap shot and fired away, beating McGovern glove side to make it 2-0 UNH.
A Maine goal made it 2-1 before the end of the first period, but there was no doubt UNH was in charge of the game and was controlling the pace of play the way they wanted to.
More importantly, Danny Tirone found his game for the Wildcats this weekend. After making 50 saves of 53 shots the night before, Tirone came right back onto the ice tonight and had a similar performance. He saw the puck well and challenged every shot he faced at the top of his crease. It seemed like he was back to tracking the puck similar to ways he was last season. He finished the weekend with 78 saves on 83 shots.
“I don’t think confidence is something you gain from results, I think it’s something you create through your preparation and mindset,” Tirone said after the game when asked if his confidence had changed.
At 13:22 of the second period, UNH took a 3-1 lead after Tyler Kelleher’s shot deflected off the pad of McGovern and sat in the slot where Maxim Gaudreault pocketed his second goal of the game.
Just over two minutes later at 15:45 of the second period, UNH made it 4-1 on the power play. Freshman Ara Nazarian waited on the doorstep for a puck that bounced in front and he pushed it to the twine for his second goal of the season.
With 2 and 1/2 minutes left in regulation, Maine scored with an extra attacker on the ice to cut the lead to 4-2. But Poturalski struck again with an empty netter to finalize the score at 5-2.
A positive for UNH was the defensive presence all night long. There were limited opportunities in the slot for the Black Bears and most of their shots came from the outside, making it a simpler game for Tirone to handle.
Andrew Poturalski is now on an eight game point streak, and has 18 points during that streak. He paces the nation with 30 points, while linemate Tyler Kelleher sits in second with 27 points on the season.
UNH improved it's overall record to 5-6-4. Their Hockey East record improved to 2-1-4. Maine dropped to 4-9-4 overall and 2-5-1 in Hockey East.
Here are the video highlights of UNH's 5-2 win courtesy of UNH Athletics: