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November 11. 2012 9:50PM

Allen Lessels' UNH Notebook: Another game, another shutout by DeSmith

DURHAM -- THAT FORMULA worked again.

The University of New Hampshire hockey team ran its record to 6-1-1 overall and 4-1-1 in Hockey East with Saturday night's 4-0 win at the Whittemore Center.

Casey DeSmith, a sophomore from Rochester, stopped 27 shots for his second straight shutout and third in his last four games.

Statistically, at least, Saturday night's win looked much like UNH's previous game, a 4-0 win at Maine the Sunday before.

DeSmith had 42 saves in that one. Senior Austin Block had a pair of goals against Maine and two more against Vermont and through Saturday's game led Hockey East in scoring with seven. Junior defenseman Eric Knodel had a goal in each game.

DeSmith added a little something extra to his game against Vermont: He had an assist on Grayson Downing's game-winning short-handed goal in the first period.

The Wildcats play two more road games next weekend. They are at UMass-Lowell on Friday night and at Boston University on Sunday at 1.

UMass-Lowell is 2-4-1 overall and 1-3-1 in Hockey East.

BU was 5-2-0 overall and 4-1-0 in the league going into a home game against Boston College on Sunday.

DeSmith improved his league-leading numbers to a 1.36 goals-against average and .953 save percentage against Vermont.

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THE FOOTBALL TEAM got some good news without playing a game on Saturday.

The Wildcats close out the regular season with a home game against Towson on Saturday at noon.

UNH is 8-2 overall and 6-1 in the Colonial Athletic Association.

Thanks to James Madison's 35-20 loss to Villanova on Saturday, UNH clinched a share of the CAA title and can win its first outright league championship since 1994 by beating Towson.

The No. 10-ranked Wildcats will be making a ninth straight appearance in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision tournament and would love to get a playoff game at home. They may be a bit of a longshot for that, but the odds got a little better when James Madison, Lehigh and Stony Brook - all ranked ahead of UNH - lost on Saturday.

Athletics department officials will have their bids for home games through in the tournament in by today's deadline. But the NCAA has been reluctant to award UNH playoff games because of its subpar facilities.

The top five seeds in the 20-team event are guaranteed a home game for the playoffs. UNH should inch a bit closer to the top five when rankings are announced today.

They will try to climb even higher with a win over Towson.

"It's a very important game for us in the CAA and also for playoff seeding," said junior defensive end Jay Colbert, who missed most of last season after tearing his right pectoral muscle while lifting weights. "It's a chance to win a championship. You put all the work in through the winter and summer and now you get to see what you've got."

The teams and pairing for the FCS tournament will be announced next Sunday at 1:30 p.m.

Twelve teams will receive byes in the first round. Eight teams will play first-round games on Nov. 24.

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THE WILDCATS must wait a week before they see who they play in the NCAA tournament, but their schedule for next year is a little clearer today.

The CAA portion of the schedule is not yet set, but Lehigh, which lost its first game of the season on Saturday to Colgate, has been added to fill out the nonconference part.

UNH will play its "money game" at Central Michigan, a Football Bowl Subdivision team in the Mid-American Conference, on Sept. 7. The Wildcats play Colgate at home on Sept. 14 and are at Lehigh on Set. 28.

UNH had planned to play Rhode Island as a nonconference opponent. When Rhode Island announced it had switched gears and was staying in the CAA instead of leaving, the door was open for a series against Lehigh. The teams will play in Durham in 2014.

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THE MEN'S BASKETBALL TEAM, which opened the season with a 91-51 win against Division III Suffolk on Saturday, plays at Dartmouth on Tuesday night at 7, in its first of five straight road games. The Wildcats are at Bryant on Saturday at 1.

UNH beat Dartmouth, 53-50, at home last season.

The Big Green opened the season with a 67-54 win over Maine at home on Saturday night.

The women's team opens its season at Yale on Wednesday. The Wildcats play six of their first seven games on the road. The lone home game in the stretch is against Cornell on Nov. 25 at 1 p.m.

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NICE RUN with a tough finish for the men's soccer team.

The No. 5-seeded Wildcats advanced to the America East championship game on Saturday night and fell just short to UMBC. The teams played to a 0-0 tie in regulation. UMBC win the title by beating UNH 4-2 on penalty kicks.

alessels@unionleader.com

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