UNH Sweeps UMass Season Series
DURHAM, NH - The 2016-17 Hockey East Preseason Coaches Poll had UNH ranked #10 in the 12-team league. At the UNH Hockey Media Day, both Head Coach Dick Umile and Captain Matias Cleland pointed to that poll as a source of motivation. As Matias put it:
"We saw the rankings but they're the preseason rankings. It doesn't matter what they're talking about at the beginning of the season, it's what they're talking about at the end. We want to make some people think again about where they put us...it definitely is (motivating). I think it upset some of us and it's not where we want to be. It's something we want to improve."It's still very early in the Hockey East schedule but so far, the UNH Wildcats have been taking care of business. Their overpowering 6-2 victory over the UMass Minutemen at the Whittemore Center last evening was reminiscent of the 4-1 win in late October out at the Mullins Center in Amherst, Massachusetts.
UNH will play each Hockey East team twice during this regular season. UNH has now swept UMass and won 3 out of 4 points in the season series against Merrimack College. UMass was ranked #11 in the Preseason Coaches Poll and Merrimack was ranked #9. In the other Hockey East matchup at Boston College the week before last, UNH was competitive as they erased a three-goal deficit but lost late in the third period.
The UNH Wildcats' 3-1-1 record in Hockey East puts them in a tie for 3rd place with Notre Dame (3-2-1). UMass Lowell is in 2nd place (4-2-0) and BC is in 1st place (5-0-1). What's even more impressive is UNH's position in team offense and individual scoring. For example, take the first goal in the UMass game scored by freshman Patrick Grasso. This goal put Grasso in a tie for 1st place in Hockey East goal-scoring (5):
Grasso also added an assist on UNH's 5th goal of the game. Grasso is now in 2nd place in Hockey East scoring with 10 points. Overall, Grasso has scored 10 goals and 8 assists in 12 games which puts him in a tie for 6th in scoring among all NCAA Division I players.
Not to be outdone, junior Jason Salvaggio scored 2 goals against UMass including the game winner:
Salvaggio has scored 5 goals in 5 Hockey East games and is tied with Patrick Grasso and BC's Austin Cangelosi for the most Hockey East goals. Salvaggio also added an assist on UNH's 5th goal against UMass. He is now tied for 5th place in Hockey East scoring with 7 points. Overall, Salvaggio has tallied 7 goals and 5 assists in 12 games.
Junior Michael McNicholas, who centers UNH's first line between Salvaggio on his left wing and Tyler Kelleher on right wing, scored his 4th Hockey East goal of the season in the second period against UMass. McNicholas is tied for 2nd in Hockey East goal-scoring and tied for 5th in scoring with 7 points.
As you may have noticed in the video highlights, senior Tyler Kelleher put up a ton of points in the 6-2 win over UMass. In addition to dishing out 4 assists, he scored UNH's 5th goal of the game:
Kelleher is now the leading scorer in Hockey East competition with 12 points in 5 games. His 10 Hockey East assists are the most in the league. Overall, Kelleher has scored 7 goals and 15 assists in 12 games. He is the 2nd leading scorer among all NCAA Division I players.
Other outstanding individual efforts in the 6-2 victory over UMass include Jamie Hill's 1st goal of the season, Matias Cleland's 2 assists, and junior goalie Danny Tirone's 35 saves.
Keeping in mind that it's early in the Hockey East schedule, it's still noteworthy that UNH is #1 in Scoring Offense (4.40 Goals per Game) in the league. The UNH power play is the best in Hockey East. The Wildcats have a power play conversion rate of 36.7%. UNH's overall special teams play is also tops in Hockey East with a net score of +9.
Here are the highlights of the Wildcats' 6-2 win over UMass courtesy of UNH Wildcat Productions:
UNH will play out-of-conference games against RPI at the Whittemore Center next Tuesday night at 7:00 PM and Cornell at Madison Square Garden on November 26th at 8:00 PM.