UNH skaters face tough test against BU this afternoon
DURHAM - Casey DeSmith and the University of New Hampshire matched some serious hockey history with Friday night's 3-0 win at UMass-Lowell.
The shutout was the third straight for the Wildcats. The only other time New Hampshire blanked three consecutive opponents was in the 1928-29 season.
The Wildcats beat Bates, 1-0, tied Amherst, 0-0, and knocked off Massachusetts, 1-0, that time in a span that ran from Jan. 29, to Feb. 2, 1929.
The challenge for Dick Umile's team is to keep history from repeating.
The 1929 run ended with a 5-1 loss to Boston University.
Ironically, UNH takes on BU at Agganis Arena in Boston today at 1 p.m.
"It's another great opportunity for us," said UNH coach Dick Umile on Saturday. "It's another tough place to play. We always seem to have great games down there."
UNH's season ended at Agganis last March when the Wildcats dropped a best-of-three series in the Hockey East quarterfinals. UNH won the first game of the series in double overtime and lost the third in the same fashion.
DeSmith, the sophomore from Rochester, has been on fire for the Wildcats.
He's been in the net for all three shutouts and has four for the season.
"He's playing with an awful lot of confidence right now," Umile said.
UNH has been playing tight defense in front of DeSmith, too.
He made 23 saves on Friday night, 11 of them in the third period.
"The majority of the shots were from the outside," Umile said. "But there were probably a couple that would have been in the back of the net against most anyone else. The defensemen are doing a real good job in front and in breaking out of the zone."
DeSmith has a superb 1.21 goals against average and a .957 save percentage.
The Wildcats finished Friday night's game playing with three lines after senior forward Greg Burke and sophomore forward Jay Camper left the game with injuries.
Neither will play against BU. Burke banged up his shoulder and had X-rays and will see a doctor Monday morning, Umile said.
Sophomore defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk opened the scoring with 4:07 left in the second period against Lowell. Sophomore Grayson Downing and senior Austin Block added third period goals.
Block leads the team with eight goals and has five in the last three games.
The Wildcats were ranked No. 5 in the country last week and improved to 7-1-1 overall and 5-1-1 in Hockey East with the victory at Lowell.
BU upped its record to 6-3-0 and 5-2-0 in the league with a 6-3 win at Vermont on Friday night.
The Terriers trail second-place UNH by a point in the league standings. Boston College leads UNH by five points with an 8-1-0 Hockey East record.
UNH knocked off BU 4-1 at home in the Whittemore Center on Oct. 20. DeSmith had 24 saves that night.
Freshman Matt O'Connor came on in relief of fellow freshman Sean Maguire in goal for BU.
O'Connor has a 1.88 goals against average and .938 save percentage.
After today's game, UNH finished out a road-heavy stretch of games at Colorado College in Colorado Springs on Friday and at the University of Denver on Saturday.
The Wildcats return home to play UMass-Lowell on Nov. 30.