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November 26. 2012 8:29PM

UNH hockey team jumps to No. 2 in nation


University of New Hampshire's Kevin Goumas, facing, celebrates his empty-net goal with teammates Matt Campanale(24) and Mike Beck, left, in the third period of their NCAA Northeast Regional Hockey Tournament at the Verizon Wireless Arena in Manchester last season. UNH won 3-1 over University of (Ohio) Miami. (UNION LEADER FILE)

Traveling far and climbing high.

The jet-setting University of New Hampshire men's hockey team, off to one of the best starts in program history, moved up one spot to No. 2 in this week's national polls. The Wildcats (9-1-2 overall, 6-1-1 Hockey East) earned a first-place vote in both the USCHO.Com Division I poll and The USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine poll. Boston College (10-1-0, 8-1-0 HE) retained the No. 1 spot for the ninth consecutive week.

UNH has made a gradual ascent up the rankings despite playing seven of eight games on the road, including Friday night's 4-4 overtime deadlock at Colorado College and Saturday night's 6-4 win at Denver.

The Wildcats improved to No. 2 in the country for the first time since December of 2010. It's been six seasons since they were No. 1, dating back to Jan. 29, 2007.

Junior forward Kevin Goumas, arguably the hottest player in the nation, racked up seven points over the weekend, including a hat trick against Denver on a career-high five-point night. Goumas was named Hockey East Player of the Week on Monday, while UNH was named Hockey East Team of the Week.

All cylinders are clicking. UNH's penalty kill unit has been perfect for 22 consecutive penalties. Meanwhile, the Wildcats have scored a pair of shorthanded goals during that stretch and rank No. 2 nationally with a 95.2 percent kill rate.

UNH's hot start matches the success of the 1968-69 team, which posted a 10-2-0 record through the first dozen games under legendary coach Charlie Holt. The Wildcats, undefeated at home (5-0-0), play UMass-Lowell at Whittemore Center in Durham on Friday at 7 p.m. The game will be televised by WBIN-TV of Derry. The Wildcats and River Hawks conclude their regular-season series at Lowell on Saturday night.

kgray@unionleader.com


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