UNH skates to another stingy win, edging B.U., 3-1
BOSTON - New Hampshire forward Kevin Goumas admitted the Wildcats' confidence level is sky high.
But it's not at the point where the players need to be measured for larger baseball caps.
"We're definitely feeling confident but we can't let that get to us," Goumas said Sunday after No. 5 UNH beat No. 11 Boston University, 3-1, in a Hockey East game. "We've got a long road stretch coming up.
"We can't let the standings get to us. We've just got to keep doing our thing."
UNH's "thing" has been playing solid defense.
The Wildcats (8-1-1, 6-1-1) have allowed only 12 goals in their 10 games and continue to lead the nation in team defense with a 1.20 goals-against average.
Sunday, UNH broke the school record for consecutive scoreless minutes. It now stands at 204 minutes and 51 seconds.
UNH's defense was particularly effective against BU (6-4-0, 5-3-0) for several reasons:
.UNH killed off six of seven BU power plays.
.The Wildcats' defense blocked 20 shots.
.White-hot goalie Casey DeSmith made 45 saves and extended his school-record scoreless streak to 203 minutes and 32 seconds before he allowed a goal by Danny O'Regan (on a power play) at 4:40 of the second period.
UNH coach Dick Umile was pleased with his team's penalty kill.
"I thought our penalty kill was excellent and it needed to be, especially during the second period (when BU had five power plays)," he said. "We had a couple of 5-on-3s against us and had to kill a lot of penalties.
"I was pleased with the way the team responded."
Senior defenseman Connor Hardowa was part of this team that set a school record scoreless streak.
"I think a lot of people wouldn't have known that but we just keep winning and nobody really cares how many goals we let in as long as we score more than we let in," he said. "It's a collective commitment in our defensive zone. Everybody knows what they're doing. Everybody's bought in by now.
"It's taken a team effort every game, from Casey out to the forwards taking over the points. As long as everybody's on the same page, which we have been for quite a while now, things are going to get done and we'll be able to get of our zone and create some offense."
Hardowa had high praise for DeSmith, whose GAA dipped to 1.19 while his save percentage rose to .961.
"I think it's a lot of maturity," Hardowa said while explaining why DeSmith has been virtually impenetrable. "Obviously coming in as a freshman last year he was still pretty confident. I think he had a good summer and put in a lot of work.
"Our goalie coach (Mike Buckley) is awesome. He's put a lot of commitment into working with Casey and helping him tweak little things to make him better. I think it's showed in the first half of the season."
Given how the game started, all indications were it would be anything but close.
Goumas gave UNH a 1-0 lead at 11:24 of the first.
Teammate Dalton Steelman deflected a Ryan Santana pass to Goumas, who beat Matt O'Connor (32 saves) with a low shot just inside the right post.
Then, at 14:10, freshman Max Gaudreault scored his first collegiate goal when he stuffed the puck between O'Connor's pads from just outside the crease.
O'Regan sliced BU's deficit in half when, during a power play, he buried the rebound of a Matt Grzelck shot.
Goumas wrapped up the scoring when he slid the puck into an open net with one second remaining.
"I'm not taking anything away from Casey because he's playing terrific," Umile said. "But the defensive group in front of him is as good as we've had. They've made a big difference. We may give up the first shot but they clear it and don't give up second and third shots."