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UNH 4, Northeastern 1

Red-hot Wildcats strike down NU

DURHAM, N.H. — New Hampshire scored two goals in the second period and added another two in the third en route to a 4-1 victory over Northeastern Saturday night in front of 5,436 at the Whittemore Center.

It gave the Wildcats (6-5-1, 4-2-0 Hockey East) a weekend sweep of the Huskies, who have dropped five of the last six outings and dropped to 6-5-0 and 1-4-0.

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NU hasn’t beaten UNH at the Whittemore Center since Nov. 16, 2007, the skein at 0-7-1.

UNH coach Dick Umile said it was important to take four points out of the weekend given that there are only 20 league games.

“Obviously any time you can win two games in Hockey East, give credit to Northeastern [because] they came at us hard, I thought we competed and did a good job,’’ said Umile. “It was a good hockey game and the score was not indicative of the game. We did a good job on the power play. We did a good job on the penalty kill, I know we gave one up there but overall, the penalty kill was solid.’’

Despite no goals, the Huskies played a perfect road period in the first 20 minutes. They outshot the home team, 12-6, blocked eight shots, and freshman Derick Roy was solid (28 saves).

But UNH turned it up a notch in the middle period, scoring a pair of goals just 40 seconds apart to take a 2-0 lead into the second intermission.

The first tally came during a power play. With junior Adam Reid off for a high stick, senior left wing Nick Sorkin collected a carom off the end boards and beat Roy from outside the right post at 12:59.

At 13:39, they doubled the lead when junior left wing Casey Thrush and sophomore center Kyle Smith battled in front for the puck and it was Thrush’s stick that nicked it past Roy.

NU had a chance to climb back into the game early in the third when UNH junior center Grayson Downing was assessed his third minor penalty at 1:25.

The Huskies broke through during the ensuing power play at 2:31 when sophomore left wing Kevin Roy found an opening on junior goalie Casey DeSmith (31 saves). That tally ended DeSmith’s shutout streak at 199 minutes, 15 seconds, dating to a game against UMass on Nov. 8.

UNH recovered from the change in momentum, however. After senior Kevin Goumas was called for tripping not long after that, the Wildcats didn’t cede anything to the Huskies. Instead, they had two outstanding shorthanded scoring chances that Roy denied.

The Wildcats bought themselves some breathing room at 10:38 when they cashed in on a power play.

Junior right wing Matt Willows took a pass from junior defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk and beat Roy on a deft wrist shot from the left circle, putting UNH back up by a pair at 3-1.

They closed it out with 2:07 left when Downing converted on a power play (UNH went 3 for 4) to seal the win.

The Wildcats, after starting 1-5-1, have won five straight.

“We knew we were playing good hockey, we didn’t have a lot to show for it,’’ said Umile. “But we stayed positive. We just stayed with it and got on a roll and now the team is playing with a lot of confidence.’’

Despite the rough weekend, NU coach Jim Madigan said there were some positives but the team needs a complete effort.

“I liked the effort in the game from [Friday] night to tonight,’’ said Madigan.

“We played with energy, effort, we competed, we battled, we had a good mind-set up until we gave a couple of goals away in that second period. Then in the third period, we continued to battle and made it 2-1 but another mistake ended up costing us.

“This league is just too tight, if you don’t execute for 60 minutes, it’s going to cost you. Against a good team like [UNH], you can’t fall too far behind because they have too much offense.’’

Nancy Marrapese-Burrell can be reached at marrapese@globe.com.
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