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January 05. 2013 10:33PM

Men's Hockey: UNH skaters ice Rensselaer


University of New Hampshire's Eric Knodel, center, celebrates his goal with teammates Brett Pesce, Jeff Silengo and Casey Thrush, right, vs. RPI during the first period of their game played at the Whittemore Center in Durham Saturday. (Mark Bolton/Union Leader)

DURHAM - Who said the University of New Hampshire men's hockey team is lacking offensive-minded defensemen?

Three UNH defensemen - Eric Knodel, Justin Agosta and Connor Hardowa - scored in Saturday night's 5-2 non-conference victory over Rensselaer.

"We had a couple more chances for our defense to score some goals and it didn't happen," UNH coach Dick Umile said. "Our strength of our team has been our defensive corps back there. They're not only good defensively, but they can add offense to the team as well."

Right wing John Henrion and right wing Jeff Silengo also scored for UNH, which raised its overall record to 13-3-2. The Wildcats collected the only two goals in the second period and led 3-1 entering the third.

"I thought they were very good in the second," Rensselaer coach Seth Appert said "They started winning defensive zone puck battles, which started leading to transition offense for them. We talked about their (defensemen) jumping in the rush. Executing it against a team on Olympic-sized ice is something different."

Defenseman Curtis Leonard and left wing Mike Zalewski scored the Rensselaer goals.

UNH received 20 saves from goaltender Casey DeSmith. Scott Diebold made 22 saves for Rensselaer, which dropped to 6-9-4.

"I think we played a full 60-minute hockey game," Henrion said. "That was a positive things to see going forward."

UNH led 3-1 after two periods, and added to its lead when Hardowa scored his first goal of the season 2:45 into the third. Silengo made it a 5-1 game by scoring empty-net goal at 15:32 of the third before Zalewski capped the scoring with a power-play goal at 18:12.

"It was definitely a nice feeling to get that first (goal)," Hardowa said. "It was kind of a monkey off my back. I've been waiting a long time for that first one.

"We know we have defenseman who can contribute offensively, so it was good to see that. We try to join the second wave as much as we can."

After Rensselaer tied the game on Leonard's goal with 3:12 left in the first period, UNH took a 3-1 lead by scoring twice in a span of 2:17 in the second. Henrion gave the Wildcats a 2-1 lead at 5:01, then Agosta was credited with a goal when the puck hit Rensselaer forward C.J. Lee's skate and deflected into the net at 7:18.

"I told the team what I liked best about tonight is we got stronger as the game went on," Umile said. "We took control of the game in the second period."

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'CAT NOTES: UNH forward Kevin Goumas entered Saturday's contest averaging 1.47 points per game, which ranked fourth among Division I players. He had one assist against RPI and has collected at least one point in 15 of UNH's 18 games this season. . UNH has a 24-21-0 edge in the all-time series against Rensselaer, which dates back to 1964. . UNH sophomore forward Grayson Downing leads all Division I players in short-handed goals (three). . Saturday's contest was UNH's final non-conference game of the regular season. . Junior forward Nick Sorkin suffered a fractured hand in Monday's victory over Bemidji State and is expected to miss at least two weeks. Sorkin has two goals and nine assists in 16 games. . UNH forwards Jay Camper and Dan Correale each had two assists Saturday.


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