action:article | category:SPORTS22 | adString:SPORTS22 | zoneID:40

Home » Sports » College Sports

November 22. 2012 8:30PM

Allen Lessels' UNH Notebook: Wildcats getting defensive on the ice

DURHAM -- Now don't get the wrong idea about the University of New Hampshire hockey team and penalty killing as it heads for a couple of mile-high showdowns this weekend: It's not exactly that the Wildcats want to take penalties and look forward to facing opponent power plays.

But Dick Umile's team doesn't dread penalty-killing duties, either.

"I think we look at the penalty kill as a chance to get the upper hand," said senior defenseman Brett Kostolansky. "We can get some momentum. We can kill it and take momentum away from them and that's key for us."

The Wildcats have been one of the best teams in the country at killing penalties.

Perhaps it's something in the Granite State water.

UNH has allowed two goals in 37 power-play chances by its opponents for a 94.6 kill percentage.

That number is second only to Dartmouth, which has killed 28 of 29 penalties for 96.6 percent.

UNH's penalty killers will come under fire this weekend. So, too, will Dartmouth's. The Big Green play at No. 1-ranked Boston College on Saturday at 4.

The Wildcats have climbed to the No. 3 ranking in the country with an 8-1-1 overall record and take on No. 14 Colorado College tonight in Colorado Springs. On Saturday, they play at No. 2 Denver.

CC is 7-5-0 overall and Denver is 9-1-0 and they each have productive power plays. In fact, they each have scored 10 goals in 42 power-play chances for a 23.8 percentage, which is tied for eighth-best in the nation.

UNH's penalty-killing success falls in line with goaltender Casey DeSmith's outstanding play in net and the team's strong start to the season on defense overall.

The Wildcats, said head coach Umile and assistant Jim Tortorella, have bought into what the coaches are preaching about a whole-team approach to defense.

They embrace the challenge of killing penalties, too.

"I talk to the guys a lot and I know coach talks to them a lot about this being an opportunity when we're a man down," Tortorella said. "An opportunity to play better defense. An opportunity to do some things we're not going to pay attention to on a five-on-five situation."

The focus on special teams extends to the moments after a power play, or after killing a penalty, and trying to capitalize on those chances to create momentum as well.

"A guy like Brett (Kostolansky) realizes he can play great defense and help our team generate momentum and win games," Tortorella said.

UNH is allowing a stingiest-in-the-country 1.22 goals per game. Denver is scoring a nation's best 4.50 a game.

DeSmith has a 1.19 goals-against average and .961 save percentage.

- - - - - - -



THE FOOTBALL TEAM begins play in its ninth straight NCAA Football Championship tournament on Dec. 1 at Wofford College in Spartanburg, S.C.

UNH and Wofford are both 8-3 overall and both were 6-2 to earn a share of their conference titles. Wofford is in the tournament for the fifth time in the last six years.

The Terriers split their games with Southern Conference rivals Georgia Southern and Appalachian State, both of whom also made the playoffs. Wofford lost to Georgia Southern, 17-9, and beat Appalachian State, 38-28.

- - - - - - -



MINNESOTA, undefeated and the defending NCAA champion, comes to town to play the UNH women's hockey team on Saturday and Sunday. Both games start at 2.

The Golden Gophers are 14-0-0 this year and are on an NCAA record 22-game winning streak dating back to last season.

Junior forward Amanda Kessel leads Minnesota in scoring with 17 goals and 21 assists for 38 points. One of her brothers, Blake, starred at UNH and now plays with Adirondack in the American Hockey League, and another, Phil, played for the Bruins.

UNH is 6-7-1 overall and 3-2-1 in Hockey East and is unbeaten in its last four at 3-0-1.

- - - - - - -



THE WOMEN'S BASKETBALL TEAM puts its 2-1 record up against Cornell in its home opener on Sunday at 1. The game is UNH's only one at home in its first six games.

The Wildcats lost at Boston College, 64-59, on Tuesday.

Cornell is 2-1 and beat Manhattan College in its last game on Tuesday night, 70-60.

- - - - - - -



THE MEN'S BASKETBALL TEAM, 2-2, plays at Holy Cross on Saturday at 4. The Wildcats are at Connecticut on Thursday. UNH lost at NJIT, 69-67, on Wednesday.

Holy Cross is 3-2. The Crusaders lost at St. John's, 65-53, on Wednesday and beat Maine, 57-54, in its previous game.

- - - - - - - -


Allen Lessels covers college sports for the New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News. He may be reached at alessels@unionleader.com.


 NH Sports Angle more
Links to news and happenings around the world of sports with a Granite State connection, updated daily.

Former New Hampshire goalie DeSmith tells his side of arrest, dismissal from team

NH hockey team moving to Maine could be worth at least $1 million in economic activity say city officials

New owners of Claremont plan to put speedway back on track

Speedway in Claremont bought for nearly $519,000

Lebanon marathoner qualifies for US Olympic Trials

Matt Bonner talks about the end of the run, making the simple play, and playing until he's 40

Ex-UNH goalie agrees to diversion,receive counseling, avoids jail

Wildcats will face Chattanooga in prime time

New England Revolution forward Charlie Davies teaches supporters how to believe

Helmetless Football? Its the new practice at UNH

CASEY DeSMITH

DeSmith officially dismissed from New Hampshire team, but can return to class as of Dec. 20

San Antonio Spurs forward Matt Bonner (15), of Concord, N.H., shoots the ball against Boston Celtics center Tyler Zeller (44) during the second half at TD Garden.

Rapper Lil B gives shoutout to…Matt Bonner?

Manchester Central's Tyler Stratton watches his shot get by Spaulding High School (Rochester) goalie Derek Scott during a shootout at the 2012 Bauer Christmas Hockey Classic hosted at JFK Coliseum in Manchester.

VFW downsizing threatens Spaulding hockey due to loss of venue for Bingo fundraisers

Eagles notes: Kelly committed to current job

5 face riot charges in beating incident at football game

Ayotte rips top sports league commissioners for snubbing hearing on domestic violence

Manchester Monarchs sign Josh Gratton to AHL contract

Can football without helmets lead to fewer concussions?

Trial date set for former UNH hockey coach accused of assaulting player

Sudanese runner with NH ties hoping to crowdfund way to 2016 Olympics

Former Wildcat van Riemsdyk undergoes successful surgery

Monadnock Speedway driver captures first Granite State NASCAR title

MORE

 New Hampshire Events Calendar
    

    SHARE EVENTS FOR PUBLICATION, IT'S FREE!

Upcoming Events

 New Hampshire Business Directory

  

    ADD YOUR BUSINESS TODAY!