Tuesday, March 01, 2016

UNH Captain's Corner: Final Game at the Whittemore Center

UNH Captain
Collin MacDonald
Alternate Captain
Dan Correale
Alternate Captain
Maxim Gaudreault
Harry Quast
Jamie Regan
Kyle Smith

Senior Night at the Whittemore Center is always a special occasion. UNH hockey fans get to express their appreciation to the players who have entertained them for the last four years. The players' families are honored for their commitment to their son's dream of earning a college degree while playing the game they love.

Last Saturday night, the UNH fans and team were hoping the pre-game celebration for the seniors would set the stage for a bigger celebration at the end of the game. The final outcome would determine whether or not the 2015-16 team earned home-ice advantage in the opening round of the Hockey East Playoffs. Defeat UConn, earn the #8 seed, and play the best-of-three, playoff series next weekend at the Whittemore Center. Lose and travel to another team's home rink.

After jumping out to a 3-0 lead then regaining the three-goal advantage at 4-1 in the last minute of the second period, UNH appeared to be on it's way to victory. As Parker Wheeler described in his game report, what transpired from that point on was difficult to watch. UConn scored three unanwered goals in the final stanza to force overtime.

At the 3:08 mark of overtime, UConn's fourth-line winger Corey Ronan gained a stride on a UNH defender, carried the puck across the slot, and flipped a backhander toward the net. The puck deflected off a Wildcat's stick and over sophomore goalie Danny Tirone's shoulder.

I had an opportunity to interview UNH Captain Collin MacDonald about his final game at the Whittemore Center and the upcoming playoff series against Merrimack College which begins on Thursday night:

Mike Lowry ("C-H-C"): Senior Night is always a special occasion for the team and the fans. What was it like for you to experience the pre-game ceremony with your fellow seniors and their families? Do you think the excitement and energy of the festivities carried over into the team's dominant performance in the opening period?

Collin MacDonald: It was bittersweet for sure; we have a really close class, but it’s our turn to finish up here in Durham. Honestly, I don’t think the festivities had anything to do with our strong start to the game. Credit to the fans for a great turnout, especially the students; we just had a strong first period like we planned.

Mike Lowry: With home-ice in the opening round of the Hockey East Playoffs on the line, UNH appeared to have the game well in hand leading 3-0 midway through the second period and 4-1 at the end of the second. How was UConn able to chip away at the lead and score 4 unanswered goals to win in overtime? Are there things UNH might have done differently to secure the win?

Collin MacDonald: We just didn’t play a full 60 minutes. The third hasn’t been our best period as of late. Instead of looking back on it, the team and I are moving on from what happened and are just looking forward to playoff hockey.

Lowry: It goes without saying that the seniors must have been disappointed to end their playing days at the Whittemore Center on such a sour note. Can you put into words how you have been processing the loss?

MacDonald: It was definitely tough to swallow. It was hard to believe it happened the way it did. We talked about what we needed to, but all our attention is directed toward this week. It’s a new season now.

Lowry: UNH had some success against Merrimack down in their barn back in November, winning the first game and tying the second. What will be the keys to beating them in the best-of-three playoff series?

MacDonald: Yeah we are excited for the series. It’s a small rink so things happen quickly. We need to do the little things; block shots, back-check, simple offense.


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