Sunday, February 28, 2016

UNH Collapses, Loses Home Ice Advantage in Playoffs to UConn

Senior Maxim Gaudreault
Scores Goal in Final Home Game

DURHAM, NH - It looked like UNH had locked up home ice advantage in the first round of the Hockey East playoffs heading into the third period with a three goal lead, but in a blink, it was gone.

At 2:40 of the third period, UCONN’s Joey Ferriss made the score 4-2 when he snuck a shot past UNH sophomore goalie Danny Tirone. At 10:26 of the third, Spencer Naas scored on the powerplay to make the score 4-3. A silence fell over the Whittemore Center as fans realized the comeback was on.

UNH pressured offensively for three minutes straight as the clock ticked under two minutes in regulation. But UConn pulled goalie Rob Nichols for an extra attacker and caught a break. Joey Ferriss equalized things with 1:03 left in the game. Groans and moans could be heard throughout the arena with disbelief of the collapse.

The game went into overtime and finished in the way that one could only assume after such a disastrous third period; UCONN’s Corey Ronan scored on a bouncing puck 3:08 into the overtime period to clinch the 5-4 comeback victory for the Huskies.

The first two periods were dominated by UNH. Up and down the ice they looked like a lock for a victory. But a flat, lazy team showed up in the third and UCONN took advantage.

Two power play goals opened the scoring for UNH. Sophomore Michael McNicholas with the first at 12:04 of the first period and junior defenseman Matias Cleland with the second at 15:54 of the first giving UNH a 2-0 lead.

Just over five minute into the second, sophomore Shane Eiserman made it 3-0 with a fantastic individual effort collecting his own rebound and pocketing his third goal of the season.

After a power play goal by Tage Thompson at 11:51 of the second made it 3-1, UNH didn’t panic and responded with 42 seconds left in the period on a Maxim Gaudreault slap shot making it 4-1.

All seemed well as the third period began with a 5 on 3 penalty kill for UNH, but it was the calm before the storm.

This was by far the worst third period performance of the season, and there were a lot to choose from. There was nothing to show for when the Wildcats needed it the most and it attests to the whole season.

Here are the video highlights courtesy of UNH Athletics:

UNH finishes the regular season in disappointing fashion and will have to hope to make a miracle run in the playoffs and things look more and more glum each game.

The Wildcats will travel to Merrimack for the round one, best-of-three series of the Hockey East playoffs starting on Thursday.


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