College Men's Hockey: Wildcats overpower Merrimack
Sophomore Casey DeSmith returned to the net and a couple of freshmen played new roles and scored their first career goals to lift No. 4-ranked New Hampshire to a 6-2 win over Merrimack College on Saturday night in front of 6,605 at the Verizon Wireless Arena.
UNH rebounded from a 3-2 loss at Merrimack Friday night, snapped its first two-game Hockey East losing streak of the season and improved to 10-5-1 in the league with the RiverStone Cup win.
"We needed that in a big way," said UNH coach Dick Umile. "Congratulations to our captains and our leadership. They took charge of this game and they got together and made sure they did what they had to do."
The Wildcats improved to 15-6-2 overall.
DeSmith, who gave way to Jeff Wyer as the starter on Friday night and had been pulled from two of his previous three starts, made 35 saves for his 14th win of the season.
"Casey's shown before after a couple of close games how he bounces back," Umile said. "We have confidence in him. He did his part and it was an important win for us."
Freshmen Dan Correale, skating on the top line for the first time, and Collin MacDonald, back in the lineup after sitting out the last five games, each scored his first goal.
The goals, in the last 62 seconds of the second period, helped UNH take control of the game.
"Those goals were definitely huge," said UNH sophomore defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk said. "The last few games have been kind of a struggle for us so just to have that nice lead and to be able to play your game and not grip the stick too tight, which you tend to do when you're on a little bit of a skid, was definitely nice."
Sophomore forward Grayson Downing had a goal and two assists and senior forward Austin Block a goal and an assist
Defensemen contributed to the offense, too.
Senior captain Connor Hardowa scored a power play goal that put UNH on top for good at 2-1 and van Riemsdyk, named the RiverStone MVP, contributed four assists.
The Wildcats continue their Merrimack Marathon next weekend. They play at Northeastern on Friday night and then play Merrimack at the Whittemore Center on Durham on Saturday, which will be their third contest against the Warriors in the last four games.
Block scored the only goal of the first period on the power play, 7:29 into the game. The Wildcats capitalized on a two-man advantage after Kyle Singleton was called for holding and Dan Kolomaitis for interference.
Block had the puck to Marotta's right and was trying to pass across to Kevin Goumas. Instead, the puck went off the goalie's blocker and deflected into the net. Hardowa and van Riemsdyk had assists.
Merrimack freshman Ben Bahe tied it up 4:32 into the second period.
UNH took the lead back on a Hardowa power play blast at 12:23 of the period. Grayson Downing hit the post seconds before the goal and the Wildcats collected the rebound and set up the Hardowa shot from the top of the left faceoff circle.
"I don't think any goalie would have stopped it," said van Riemsdyk, who joined Downing with an assist on the play.
The Wildcats grabbed control of the games with the goals by Correale and MacDonald late in the period.
Correale knocked in a rebound for his goal and 3-1 with 1:02 left in the period.
MacDonald finished off some nice passing from John Henrion to van Riemsdyk for a goal in front in the last second of the period. Video review confirmed that the goal beat the clock.
The Wildcats were outshot 16-8 in the period, but pushed their lead from 1-0 to 4-1.
"They're a good team and they don't need a lot of good looks to make things happen," said Merrimack coach Mark Dennehy.
Junior Dalton Speelman extended the lead to 5-1 at 8:51 of the third period.
Dan Kolomaitis got that one back for Merrimack and it was 5-2 with 9:53 left in the game.