Sunday, December 03, 2017

UNH Plays of the Game: UNH 1 Providence 0

Rich Boyd
Game-Winning Goal

A week ago, UNH needed a win against the Yale Bulldogs. The Wildcats had lost 3 games in a row and had fallen from #9 to #13 in the Division I National Poll. Senior goalie and Alternate Captain Danny Tirone came up big in a 4-0 shutout down in New Haven. He was named the Hockey East Defensive Player of the Week and UNH held on to #13 in the nation.

Last night, UNH badly needed a win. Providence College, ranked #8 in the nation, handed UNH its fourth consecutive loss in Hockey East competition on Friday night at Schneider Arena. The 2-5 defeat dropped their HE record to 3-4-1 while PC improved to 6-3-1. Another loss on Saturday at the Whittemore Center would have been the fourth consecutive loss at home.

In the latest UNH Captain's Corner, Dylan Chanter mapped out the team's path a return to the NCAA Tournament:
"One of our team goals is to finish as a top-four team in Hockey East this year. By doing so, we would put ourselves in a good spot nationally and have a great shot at making the tournament."
If UNH lost to PC last night, they would have been 4 points behind 4th place Boston University, 7 behind Northeastern, 8 behind Providence, and 11 points behind first-place Boston College. The Wildcats have 15 games remaining against Hockey East teams. So the game against Providence wasn't a do-or-die situation, but it was important. In an exciting, fast-paced contest, UNH scored in the first period and kept PC off the board for a 1-0 victory.

Here's a video review of what I believe were the key plays.

Play, Goal, Assist, and Hit of the Game

Usually, I break down the key plays into distinct items - play of the game, goal of the game, save of the game, etc. But in the UNH shut out of Providence, I think the hit, assist, and goal all came in the same sequence and formed the "Play of the Game". It began with senior defenseman Rich Boyd preventing the puck from leaving the PC zone along the half-wall to the right of goalie Hayden Hawkey and sending it back around the boards. Fellow senior Shane Eiserman poked the puck along the boards behind the goal line.

PC freshman defenseman Jake Ryczek, who originally committed to UNH before changing his mind in favor of Providence, attempted to control the puck behind the net. At that moment, junior Marcus Vela leveled the "Hit of the Game" taking Ryczek into the boards and out of the play.

Ara Nazarian, playing on the first forward line with Eiserman and Vela, jumped on the loose puck and feathered a pass out to the top of the slot to Boyd - the "Assist of the Game".

Rich Boyd, who missed most of last season battling an internal health problem, slung a wrist shot past three players and over the glove of Hawkey. Time of the "Goal of the Game" was 7:12 of the first period. Here's the whole sequence in real time and slow motion:

Saves of the Game: Danny Tirone

En route to his 4th shutout of the 2017-18, Danny Tirone made 24 saves. Three of his best came in the 2nd period, two on the power play.

Defensive Play of the Game: Michael McNicholas & Anthony Wyse

With 1:47 left in regulation, PC head coach Nate Leaman pulled his goalie for an extra attacker. Their best scoring bid came with just under a minute to go. Brandon Duhaime got open in the top of the slot but as he received a pass and attempted a shot, both senior forward Michael McNicholas and sophomore defenseman Anthony Wyse surrounded him and deflected the shot up into the netting behind the goal. As the replay shows, this play was particularly important because Tirone was screened by a single PC player in front of the net.

The Wildcats return to nonconference action on Wednesday at RPI. Next weekend features home games against Army on Saturday and Merrimack College on Sunday.


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