UNH Captain's Corner: St. Lawrence, Clarkson & Colorado College
|UNH Captain Matias Cleland|
In our last Captain's Corner, UNH Captain Matias Cleland discussed the team's difficulties converting on the power play in the 5-1 loss to Bentley University. The Wildcats took a step in the right direction in the first of a series of three out-of-conference games over the last two weekends. Despite being soundly defeated 6-2 by 15th-ranked St. Lawrence University on October 14th, both UNH goals came on 5-on-3 power plays. The goals scored by senior Tyler Kelleher and freshman Patrick Grasso (his first NCAA goal) are described and shown in the article "UNH Overpowered by #15 St. Lawrence 6-2".
The following evening at Clarkson University, Grasso scored another power play goal and added a regular strength goal in a 5-3 come-from-behind victory. UNH also got 2 more goals from Kelleher plus Dylan Maller's first NCAA goal. Here's a link to Ben Nawn's game report titled "UNH Finds the Win Column for the First Time".
In all, UNH scored 7 goals, including 3 power play goals, in their two contests in upstate New York. On the strength of their offensive production, Tyler Kelleher was named Hockey East/Warrior Player of the Week and both Patrick Grasso and Matias Cleland were named Hockey East Weekly Top Performers. The Wildcats appeared to have overcome their difficulties scoring goals. However, another troubling pattern persisted - falling behind early in the game.
In the season opener, Bentley scored on their second shot on goal and built up a 2-0 advantage 14 minutes into the first period. At St. Lawrence, the Saints also scored on their second shot on goal and nabbed a 2-0 lead with 8 minutes left in the first. Their lead increased to 3-0 with 12:13 left in the second period. Clarkson's first shot on goal, just 1:34 into the opening stanza, went in and the Golden Knights made it 2-0 at the 10:08 mark.
So, entering the game last Saturday night against Colorado College, a couple of key questions were still in play. Could the Wildcats avoid falling behind early in the game? Would UNH score enough goals, at even strength and on the power play, to defeat their opponent?
As Ben Nawn describes in his article "Colorado College Beats UNH for First Time Since '97", the Wildcats have not overcome the problem of surrendering early leads. The Colorado College Tigers scored the first goal of the game on their first shot on goal just 2:03 after the opening faceoff. Three minutes later, their second shot on goal also found the back of the net. Both Colorado College goals were short-handed.
On the plus side, UNH eventually tied the game 3-3 midway through the second period. Freshman Patrick Grasso scored his 4th goal in 4 games and juniors Jason Salvaggio and Michael McNicholas scored their first goal of the season. Grasso and McNicholas' were even strength goals and Salvaggio's was short-handed. The Wildcats went 0-for-7 on power play opportunities.
Captain's InterviewI had an opportunity to interview UNH Captain Matias Cleland about the three out-of-conference games from the last two weekends.
Matias Cleland: I think the biggest thing is just slow starts. I don't think we necessarily are flat footed but we haven't buried our chances early. We have had opportunities to score the first goal in the games we have gone down, but we haven't and its hurt us. We need to bear down and bury our early chances to put ourselves in a better situation.
Mike Lowry: Patrick Grasso is the first UNH freshman since All-American Sean Collins (2001-02 season) to score 4 goals in his first 4 collegiate games. Would you describe Patrick's skill set for those fans who have not yet seen him play? Does he remind you of any other outstanding forwards you've played with and against in your time at UNH?
Matias Cleland: Grasso is very talented with the puck and sees the ice well. His quickness allows him to be dangerous in the offensive zone. Obviously, I have been impressed with his play. He is not playing like a freshman and it's what we need out of him. He has had some early accomplishments already but he's not the kind of kid that lets that get to him.
His skill set reminds me of Kelleher's a little. They are both small and great with the puck.
Here are the video highlights of Patrick Grasso's first 4 NCAA goals:
Lowry: Were there other individual efforts, over the last 3 games, that stood out as positives in your mind?
Cleland: I thought that Maller has played great the past two games. He's been putting up points but more importantly, he's been solid defensively. He has been a leader on the back end for us the past three games.