UNH Captain's Corner: Vermont Series
|UNH Captain Collin MacDonald|
The Vermont Catamounts came to the Whittemore Center tied with UNH, Northeastern and UConn for 6th place in the Hockey East standings. On Friday night, UNH scored the all-important, first goal of the game. As Parker Wheeler pointed out in his game report, the Wildcats had a record of 6-0-3 when scoring the first goal. UNH utilized the 6th best power play (24.8%) in NCAA Division I hockey to get on the board as Tyler Kelleher scored his 8th goal of the season.
Vermont answered with a power play goal of it's own early in the second period. Minutes later, UNH capitalized on 5-on-3 power play opportunity when sophomore Michael McNicholas made a nifty move around UVM goalie Packy Munson.
Tyler Kelleher notched the 100th point of his UNH career as he assisted on the McNicholas goal. Kelleher is the first UNH player to join the Century Club in his junior year since Jacob Micflikier and Brett Hemingway in the 2005-06 season.
UVM tied the game again midway through the second period on another power play goal. In the waning seconds of the period, the puck ricocheted off the right skate of Conor O'Neil past goalie Danny Tirone for the controversial game-winning goal. It looked to me that O'Neil made a deliberate kicking motion the instant the puck reached Tirone's right skate (see slow motion video below). Referees Jeff Bunyon and Thomas Fryer reviewed the video replay and ruled that it was a goal.
Here's a link to Parker Wheeler's game report of the 3-2 loss from our blog:
Controversial Goal Leads to Vermont Victory Over UNH
Vermont's win combined with Northeastern's win over UMass on Friday night meant that UNH dropped down to a tie for 8th place with UConn. At this stage in the season, UNH's primary objective is to finish between 5th and 8th place. Doing so will give them home ice in the best-of-three opening round of the Hockey East Playoffs. The pressure was on to bounce back with a win or tie against UVM on Saturday night.
The game had added importance since it marked the 1,000th game in Dick Umile's career as UNH Head Coach. After falling behind by two goals midway through the second period, UNH rallied a couple minutes later with a power play goal by the nation's leading scorer Andrew Poturalski. Sophomore Shane Eiserman scored the game-tying goal early in the third period. It was his second goal in the last 3 games.
Here's a link to Parker Wheeler's game report of the 2-2 tie:
Vermont and UNH Skate to a 2-2 Tie
With 4 games left in the regular season, UNH holds a slim 1-point lead over UConn for the 8th spot in the Hockey East standings. Boston University (23 points) is in 5th place, Northeastern (16) is in 6th, and Vermont (15) is 7th. UNH faces BU this coming weekend in a home-and-home series then finishes the regular season in another home-and-home against UConn. Connecticut plays Northeastern in a home-and-home this Friday and Saturday.
I had an opportunity to interview UNH Captain Collin MacDonald about the weekend series with Vermont:
Would you take a look at the slow motion replay and give your opinion on whether it was a legitimate goal?
Collin MacDonald: Definitely a tough one to watch, I wouldn’t want to be a ref deciding on that goal. Calling it a goal on the ice makes it tougher for them to overturn it. It looks like if it went in when he first made contact with the puck off his skate we might have had it called our way. But when he’s stopping at the net and it goes in off his skate while he’s stopping it makes it hard to overturn. A tough goal to lose on for sure, but that’s hockey, it goes that way sometimes.
Mike Lowry: Over the last 3 games, sophomore Michael McNicholas has scored 3 points including this power play goal on Friday against UVM:
In recent games, Michael has centered a line with Shane Eiserman and Jamie Hill on the wings and has played point on the UNH power play. Would you describe Michael's skill set?
Collin MacDonald: Michael’s skill set is phenomenal; I’m used to seeing it everyday in practice and I’m glad the fans are getting a taste of it. It’s hard to explain I guess, but his feel for the puck is just different and it’s been cool to watch. I’m glad he’s getting opportunity on the top PP unit; he brings a little something different to it and it’s working. He’s gaining confidence and his skill will continue to show as we make this final push into and during playoffs.
Lowry: Saturday night was a special occasion for Coach Umile as it marked his 1,000th game as head coach of UNH. Would you share your thoughts on his accomplishments and what it has been like to play for him for 4 years?
MacDonald: That was a pretty amazing milestone for him, we were happy to be a part of it. I wish we pulled out the win, but I’m glad we got a point out of it on the night. He’s very big on senior leadership, and we’ve all got to know him on more of a personal level this year, which has been great. I’ve learned through my time this year especially how much he wants to win for the school and community. UNH hockey is his life, and I hope we can start to get on a little run here and make something special out of this year for him.