Tricks & Treats: 4 Grasso Goals Lead Wildcats to 6-2 Victory Over Warriors
[Durham, N.H.] - The University of New Hampshire Wildcats hockey team won against the Merrimack College Warriors 6-2 on Saturday night to improve to 3-3 on the season and 2-0 in Hockey East. Led by freshman Patrick Grasso's four goals and Danny Tirone's 25 saves, the 'Cats won their first home game of the season. Grasso also registered his first collegiate hat-trick in the win.
The scoring started at 4:31 when senior Tyler Kelleher was able to capitalize on a shorthanded opportunity for his 4th goal of the season. After freshman defenseman Anthony Wyse went to the penalty box for tripping, Kelleher took a bouncing puck that was cleared by the defense and was able to skate down the near side and put it five-hole past Warrior goaltender Drew Vogler.
"Overall, it was a good weekend of hockey. We played 6 pretty good periods of hockey," coach Dick Umile said. Umile with the win got his 350th career Hockey East victory.
Then at 5:48 in the first period, freshman Patrick Grasso continued to shine with his 5th goal of the season assisted by Brendan van Riemsdyk. Skating down the far side, Van Riemsdyk passed one through traffic to Grasso who was trailing him on the right at the slot and Grasso wristed one top shelf past Vogler. The fun was just beginning for the young 'Cat.
"The goal by Grasso with van Riemsdyk was a great play. The rush. That line played well and the young guys made great plays. We played solid hockey up and down" Umile said.
At 7:06, Grasso found the back of the net for his 2nd goal coming on the first powerplay of the night for the Wildcats. Kelleher received a pass from Matias Cleland at the far side hash marks and took a shot which was deflected and landed at the doorstep for Grasso. Grasso so elegantly poked the puck into the net and it was 3-0 Wildcats in the first period.
Over two minutes later, history occurred for the young gun as he was able to score his first collegiate hat trick and push the lead to 4-0. On the powerplay again, Kelleher got a pass from Michael McNicholas who then fed one at the top of the crease where Grasso was waiting. Once again, Grasso was able to sneak one by Vogler. The Whittemore Center was in a frenzy for the first time this season.
Coach Umile compared Patrick Grasso to the third all-time leading UNH scorer Darren Haydar:
"We're going to hear a lot about him [Patrick Grasso]. He is real clever, has a great stick and can score goals. I compare him to a Darren Haydar. [He is] a very smart hockey player. We're happy, two games in Hockey East that we won. We will enjoy it."Going into the 2nd intermission, the Wildcats were up 4-0 and Danny Tirone continued his solid weekend in net keeping the Warriors shut out. Once, the third period began Tirone faced a lot more shots from the Warriors.
More history occurred at 12:04 in the third period when Grasso was able to score one more time making it 5-0. Grasso's four goals in a game was remarkable. He was the first one to do so since Steve Moses in 2012 against Dartmouth. He now has eight goals on the season to lead the Wildcats and only six games have been played.
"I spend a lot of time in the offseason working on those situations. I think it is something that is important especially as a little guy to be able to find loose pucks, because a bigger guy may knock you off if you don't get to it in time so being able to locate those and try to bury them it can be an asset for sure," freshman Patrick Grasso said.
Here are the video highlights of all four Patrick Grasso goals:
Merrimack struck gold at 10:45 when Mark Biega was able to score from the point and lift one past Tirone to make it 5-1 in favor of the home team. Then at 8:20, Jared Kolquist found a wide open Sami Tavernier at the far side who was ready to ring the door bell. A great tape-to-tape pass from Kolquist ended up on the stick of Tavernier who poked it into the back of the net. It was 5-2 and fans at the Whitt started getting a little anxious.
Yet, solid defense and 25 big saves from Tirone kept the Warriors in check late in the third. Jason Salvaggio scored his second goal of the season coming off an empty-netter at 19:01 remaining in regulation. The Wildcats were able to come away with a 6-2 victory and in the last six against the Warriors improve to 3-2-1. The 2-0 start in Hockey East is big for the Wildcats here in the young season.
"It is huge moving forward. Huge confidence booster by getting on the board first has led to some of our success, if we can continue to do that I think we can be a big threat," Grasso said.
The Wildcats start the month of November at home where they will take on Atlantic Hockey Association opponents in Sacred Heart next Friday and Mercyhurst on Saturday.
Check out the highlights of the Wildcats' victory courtesy of UNH Wildcat Productions: