Sunday, October 09, 2016

UNH Falls to Bentley 5-1 in Regular Season Opener

UNH Sophomore Ara Nazarian
Scores 1st Goal of Season

[Durham, N.H.] -- October brings change amongst the leaves here in the state of New Hampshire as well as the beginning of the college hockey season. One thing that did not change this time around was the sloppy play of The University of New Hampshire hockey team. The Wildcats began their 2016-2017 regular season with a loss to the Bentley Falcons 5-1 on Saturday night.

In only their second meeting of all-time, Bentley University got revenge after losing 5-4 last season.

Late in the first period, the Falcon's flew out of the nest after freshman Connor Brassard received a beautiful backhand pass from captain Max French. Brassard raced towards the slot and wristed one glove side of goaltender Danny Tirone for his first collegiate goal to make it 1-0 Bentley.

Two minutes later, Alexey Solovyev smashed a quick one-timer past Tirone to thrust the Falcons out to a 2-0 lead. French who had 47 points last year was able to win the faceoff battle on this one and placed the puck on a platter for Solovyev.

Coach Dick Umile, who is at the helm in his 27th season, was blunt in the press conference following the game saying:
"Needless to say, very disappointed. We had the opportunities and scoring opportunities, but the 5-on-3 opportunities as well. We can't score or hit the net."
The second period did not bode well for the Wildcats either. They had multiple power-play opportunities, but could not execute. The Falcons stood strong defensively with 14 blocked shots and Junior goaltender Jayson Argue made 32 saves.

Referring to the blocked shots and missed opportunities on the power-play Umile said, "Those kill ya."

Midway through the second period, a small fire erupted in the UNH equipment room causing the fire alarm to go off at the Whittemore Center. All the fans quickly exited the area pausing the game for 15 minutes. Somehow, the unexpected break rejuvenated the Wildcats who finally scored late in the second period.

Sophomore goaltender Ara Nazarian chased towards a dribbling puck off the far side boards and wristed one past Argue to make it 2-1. It seemed the Bentley lead was just a false alarm and the Wildcats were ready to claw their way back.

Under a minute later, Dino Balsamo collected a sloppy Wildcat turnover and used his backhander to his advantage sneaking one past Danny Tirone to make it 3-1. This most certainly killed the 'Cats.

"That hurt," said Umile.

"They capitalized on our mistakes so hats off to them on that, but we have to limit those," said senior captain Matias Cleland.

The main story though was the Wildcats' failure to capitalize on the 5-on-3 power play opportunities. UNH held a two-man advantage three times - once in each period. The Wildcats went 0-6 on the power play and it proved to change the game.

The Wildcats entered the third period trailing by only two goals and looking to get back into the game. They were out-shooting Bentley 24-12. However, only :14 seconds in, Bentley struck again. Kyle Schmidt, who is third all-time in assists at Bentley, found a wide open Johnathan Desbiens waiting to pull the trigger. He did and Bentley lead 4-1. The Falcons flew even further away with a short-hand, empty-netter late in the third to seal the victory.

Although disappointed in the lack of execution, Coach Umile noted that the season just started, but changes need to happen quickly:

"We have a long road trip and a lot of work to do."

The Wildcats head on the road to take on ECAC opponent #16 St. Lawrence and Clarkson next weekend.

You can take a look at the highlights, brought to you by UNH Athletics, below:

Box Score


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