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UNH earns spot in playoffs

AMHERST, Mass. — University of New Hampshire coach Dick Umile wasn&#';t exactly evasive when analyzing the Wildcats&#'; 4-3 victory Friday night over Massachusetts in a Hockey East game.

&#';We got outplayed badly in the second period,&#'; Umile said referring to the fact UMass out-shot UNH by a 25-5 margin. &#';Casey (DeSmith), obviously, won the game for us.

&#';We made a couple of huge plays to get the third and fourth goals (by Nick Sorkin and Kevin Goumas in the third period). We didn&#';t break in the third period but in the second period, Casey kept us in there. We turned the puck over and they came after us. We were fortunate to win.&#';

In retrospect, the Wildcats (14-15-3, 11-12-2) are fortunate to have DeSmith in net given the fact he stepped on the ice ranked ninth in the nation in save percentage and 10th in goals-against average.

&#';All&#'; DeSmith, a freshman from Rochester, did against the Minutemen was make a career-high 47 saves.

In the process, UNH clinched a spot in the Hockey East Tournament and vaulted into sixth place because Providence College was blanked, 3-0, by Boston College.

Trevor van Riemsdyk scored the first two goals for UNH but if it wasn&#';t for DeSmith&#';s 24-save performance in the second, the Wildcats might not have gone into intermission leading 2-1.

&#';He stands right in there,&#'; Umile said of DeSmith. &#';He has good position. He covers a lot of the net and has an awful lot of confidence.

&#';I really think he anticipates the next play and puts himself in a great spot. He knows where it&#';s going across and he&#';s there. He&#';s got good push and he&#';ll challenge and come out to the top of the crease. And he&#';s very athletic on top of it.

&#';We knew he was going to be a good goaltender,&#'; Umile added. &#';That&#';s why we recruited him. He&#';s just getting better with confidence and playing at this level.&#';

Just like a baseball player who&#';s on a hitting streak when the ball seems like it resembles a beach ball, DeSmith is seeing the puck as well as player can at his position.

&#';I saw it well the whole game,&#'; DeSmith said. &#';They came hard from the drop of the puck and, thankfully, I saw it well. They got a lot of chances from the slot and I got a few of them.

&#';A few got past me but all in all I saw the puck well the whole game.&#';

Van Riemsdyk gave UNH a 1-0 lead at 6:30 of the first when he gunned home a slap shot from the right point.

The freshman defenseman made it 2-0 at 4:44 of the second with another slap shot, this time from just inside the blue line.

UMass, 11-15-5, 7-13-4, finally beat DeSmith, on a power play, at 11:14, when Conor Sheary scored on a wrist shot from the slot.

Joel Hanely tied it at 4:47 of the third on a snap shot from the left circle. But seemingly in an eyeblink UNH scored twice — Sorkin finishing off a 2-on-1 with Goumas at 7:15 and Goumas following suit 17 seconds later on a fast-break pass from Connor Hardowa.

The Minutemen sliced their deficit to 4-3 on Danny Hobbs&#'; backhander at 12:25. But DeSmith slammed the door to ensure the victory.

&#';As a goaltender you always have to adjust to shots and anticipate plays,&#'; DeSmith said. &#';Every game is an adjustment. Every game I see different looks and different things players do. I always have to adjust to give myself the best chance to make saves.&#';

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