College Hockey: UNH suffers a letdown
AMHERST, Mass. — The University of New Hampshire hockey got its two points for a win and clinched a spot in the Hockey East playoffs with Friday night's win at Massachusetts.
Because Saturday the University of Massachusetts took its turn and scored a couple of quick goals in the second period to climb in front of the Wildcats and held on for a 4-2 win in a rematch at the Mullins Center.
The Minutemen kept pace with Northeastern in their own race for a spot in the tournament. UMass is 12-15-5 overall and 8-13-4 in Hockey East and tied with Northeastern for eighth place.
The Wildcats fell to 14-16-3 overall and 11-13-2 in the league and while they no longer have a mathematical chance to get home ice for the tournament, their playoff picture did improve a bit.
They remain in sixth-place in the standings, but can now finish no lower than seventh as a result of Northeastern's 7-1 loss to Maine.
The bottom line is, UNH headed for home Saturday night with a playoff spot wrapped up.
“You've got to be happy with that,” said defenseman Damon Kipp, one of the team's captains. “We're obviously disappointed to get the loss tonight, but when we go home and look back on it, we secured our playoff spot, so we're happy about that.”
The thing is, the Wildcats felt they played better in Saturday night's loss than in Friday's 4-3 win.
“All around, defensively and offensively, we had a better game as a whole,” said sophomore forward Kevin Goumas, who assisted on both goals on Saturday night. “Last night, they might have outplayed us a little bit, especially in the second period. Tonight we held them off better defensively and they got a bounce here and there and it came out a loss.”
UMass outshot UNH 51-29 on Friday night and 32-28 on Saturday.
“It's a tough one to take because we played better tonight than we did last night,” said UNH coach Dick Umile. “But we don't have a ‘W' to show for it.”
The Wildcats close out the regular season with a game at Maine on Saturday at 4.
UNH and UMass traded first period goals on Saturday.
Stevie Moses struck first for UNH, 4:50 into the game. Goumas stripped Darren Rowe of the puck at the point and broke in alone on Steve Mastalerz. The goalie stopped the Goumas shot, but Moses followed and put in the rebound for his 21st goal of the season.
Kevin Czepiel scored off a scrum in front of UNH's Casey DeSmith to even things at 10:15.
UMass got goals from a couple of defensemen to jump in front, 3-1, early in the second period.
The Minutemen caught UNH in a line change and Michael Marcou put another rebound back past DeSmith for 2-1 just 1:15 into the second.
Joel Hanley swung into the middle and beat DeSmith with a wrist shot just under the crossbar and UMass had a two-goal lead at 3:53, six seconds after a Minuteman power play ended.
“We had a lapse there for a minute or two and it kind of cost us,” Kipp said.
“They got a couple of quick goals and we went down 3-1,” Umile said. “But the guys stayed with it.”
UNH got one back with 3:23 left in the period when a Goumas pass from behind the net set up Nick Sorkin in front for his second goal in as many nights.
The Wildcats chased a tying goal the rest of that period and through most of the third until Conor Sheary beat DeSmith to finish off a two-on-one with 2:12 left to ice the game.
Umile pulled DeSmith for an extra attacker for the last 90 seconds, but the Wildcats could not get another goal.
DeSmith, the freshman from Rochester, finished with 28 saves. Mastalerz had 26.
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Moses moved to within three points of the century mark for his career with his goal. He has 46 goals and 51 assists for 97 points. . . . Goumas had a big weekend. He had a goal and two assists on Friday to go with his two assists on Saturday. . . . Junior wing John Henrion was a healthy scratch for the second time in four games.