DeSmith, UNH skaters blank Maine
University of New Hampshire fans can agree it's never easy to beat the Black Bears at Alfond Arena. It's also downright impressive when the Wildcats leave there with a shutout win.
Austin Block scored a pair of goals and Casey DeSmith of Rochester stopped 42 shots for his third career shutout to lift the ninth-ranked Wildcats to a 4-0 Hockey East win in Orono, Maine, Sunday.
UNH improved to 5-1-1 overall with a 3-1-1 mark in Hockey East play. Maine is 1-8-0 overall and 0-4-0 in league play. It's the Wildcats' first win at Alfond Arena since December 10, 2010 and UNH's first shutout at Maine since Jan. 17, 1998.
DeSmith, who earned his second shutout of the season, stopped 18 and 15 shots in the second and third period, respectively. Maine's Dan Sulivan turned aside 41 of 45 shots, but fell to 0-6-0 this season in net.
Block matched a career-high with two goals, while Trevor van Riemsdyk and Connor Hardowa each registered a pair of assists in the game.
Winless in their last two games with one goal scored, the Wildcats' offense entered Sunday's game on the attack. The game was physical and chippy from the start as three penalties were all called at the 1:19 mark.
Conor Riley of Maine received a two-minute minor for boarding while teammate Jake Rutt and Kevin Goumas of UNH were each whistled for hitting after the whistle.
Maine's Brice O'Connor gave UNH its first scoring change when he was called for tripping just 2:09 into the game. Four seconds after Riley's penalty expired, still leaving Maine shorthanded, Block scored a power play goal at the 3;23 mark. Connor Hardowa and Trevor van Riemsdyk each assisted on the goal.
Maine finally gained the man advantage when UNH's Eric Knodel was called for roughing at 16:37. The Black Bears buzzed the net, couldn't convert and then paid the price.
Six seconds after his penalty expired, Knodel came out of the penalty box, collected a pass at mid-ice from Casey Thrush and skated in alone for his second goal of the season, giving UNH a 2-0 lead at the 18:43 mark.
UNH enjoyed a 17-9 shot advantage in the first period, but DeSmith was a lot busier in middle period. Maine peppered the net 18 times, only to be turned back each time.
On the other end Maine keeper Dan Sullivan had 29 saves by the end of the second period and the wear and tear showed.
UNH managed to score the only second period goal following another penalty (slashing) by O'Connor. It didn't result into a power play goal, but six seconds after it expired, Block cashed in for his fifth season goal at 15:21 for a commanding 3-0 lead.
The Wildcats added an insurance tally as Greg Burke of Lee scored midway through the third period.
Van Riemsdyk found John Henrion in neutral ice and he carried the puck through the center before feeding Burke on the right wing. Burke's first shot was blocked, but he rifled another wrister that beat Sullivan to conclude the scoring.
UNH held a 45-42 shot advantage thanks in part to a 17-9 edge in the first period. UNH was 1-of-8 on the power play, while Maine was 0-for-5.
The Wildcats return to action on Saturday, hosting Vermont at 7 p.m. in Durham.