Tuesday, February 02, 2016

UNH Captain's Corner: Big Win Over #4 Providence

UNH Captain Collin MacDonald

Over the weekend, the UNH hockey team travelled to Providence College to face the #4 team in NCAA Division I. The Wildcats were fighting through a six-game losing streak - the longest since Dick Umile became the Head Coach in the 1990-91 season. There were a couple bright spots during the streak including a 0-1 loss to UMass Lowell (Ranked #10 at the time) and 2-3 decision to Notre Dame (Ranked #13). However, UNH had surrendered from 4 to 6 goals in three of their loses.

The Wildcats were hoping to build on their success against Providence last season when the Friars ended up winning the National Championship. After dropping an early season game 0-1 at the Whittemore Center, UNH won the regular season rematch 2-1. In the 2015 Hockey East Quarterfinal series at Schneider Arena, the teams played three 2-1 games with UNH winning Games 1 and 3.

In the first period of the game on Friday night, UNH and PC played each other even with neither team scoring (Shots on Goal: PC 11, UNH 10). Early in the second period, sophomore goalie Danny Tirone left his net and misplayed the puck below the goal line. Providence captalized and grabbed the 1-0 lead. Early in the final period, senior Mark Jankowski, a #1 draft pick of the Calgary Flames, flew out of the PC zone leading a 2-on-1 break and snapped a wrister past Tirone.

With just under 9 minutes left in regulation, the prolific scoring combination of Andrew Poturalski and Tyler Kelleher got UNH back in the game on an outstanding bang-bang goal. It was Kelleher's 7th goal of the season and 37th point. Poturalski's assist raised his point total to 40. PC sealed the deal with an empty net goal.

Here's a link to my blog post which shows each of the goals:

"UNH Loses 7th Straight; Providence 3, UNH 1"

On Saturday night, UNH played it's best all-around game of the season downing Providence 3-1. The Wildcats, backstopped by Danny Tirone, frustrated PC's efforts to get back in the game after the teams were tied 1-1. Although Providence outshot UNH 32-22, Tirone was up to the task and earned the Hockey East Defensive Player of the Week honor.

Here's a link to my game report of the 3-1 victory, including video highlights of the goals:

"UNH & Tirone Smother #4 Providence 3-1"

I had an opportunity to interview UNH Captain Collin MacDonald about the key win over Providence College:

Mike Lowry ("C-H-C"): Prior to the important win against Providence College on Saturday night, the team played competitive games against the top 4 teams in Hockey East - Boston College 3-6, UMass Lowell 0-1, Notre Dame 2-3, Providence 1-3 - but couldn't get the win. On Saturday night, UNH broke through the barrier with a 3-1 win over the Friars (4th Ranked in the Nation). What did it take to earn the win against one of the best teams in Hockey East?

Collin MacDonald: It took a full 60 minutes Saturday to win the game. In some of our losses we’ve had bad stretches of play during the game, sometimes just ugly periods. We played a full game on Saturday and we earned that win. I think we had close to thirty blocked shots as well, which was a huge part of our success.

Mike Lowry: Before you were injured in early December, the senior line of Maxim Gaudreault, Kyle Smith, and yourself had played together in nearly every game. When you've been out of the lineup with an injury, a few other forwards have been combined with Maxim and Kyle (i.e., Jamie Hill, Shane Eiserman, and Chris Miller). Over the weekend, freshman Marcus Vela moved up to join Gaudreault and Smith and they were productive. Over the two games, Kyle Smith had 2 goals and 8 shots on goal, Maxim Gaudreault had an assist and 6 SOG, and Marcus Vela generated 2 assists and 4 SOG. How do the skill sets of these three players compliment each other?

Collin MacDonald: It was really nice to see those three get rewarded this past weekend. Smitty is a very underrated player and has been throughout his career. You saw the skill he has on his second goal on Saturday, but its the little details in his game that are tough to teach. Max and Vela are heavy on the puck, it’s tough to take it away from them and they are hard to defend. Smitty supports the puck so well and made it easier for his whole line to make plays. Hopefully they can keep it going as we move on.

Lowry: During one of the television timeouts, I noticed Jamie Regan fist bumping Danny Tirone. Regan played well against Notre Dame and Tirone only allowed 3 goals over the two Providence games. How would you characterize the relationship between these two goalies who, at some level, are competing for playing time?

MacDonald: I’d say they definitely have a good relationship. They both support each other on the ice no matter the situation, and that’s so important. It’s great that there’s competition among them and they both push each other to be better.


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