Allen Lessels' UNH Notebook: Wildcats can't look back
DURHAM -- DICK UMILE and his No. 3-ranked University of New Hampshire hockey team liked the way they played and the effort they put forth against Merrimack College on Saturday night at the Whittemore Center.
They just weren't thrilled with the result.
Junior goalie Sam Marotta was on his game and turned away 51 shots to lead the Warriors to a 4-1 win and Merrimack sealed the season series between the teams, too, two games to one.
Mostly for UNH, it was another opportunity lost.
"This would have been a nice one to get a win from, definitely," said senior forward Austin Block. "It's a crazy conference and this is going to make it more interesting now. We've just got to lace them up and find a way to win some games."
After following up a 6-2 win over Merrimack at Verizon Wireless Arena in Manchester a week ago with a 3-1 in at Northeastern on Friday night, the Wildcats were looking for their first three-game winning streak since their last one ended on Dec. 6.
Marotta and Merrimack had other ideas.
"We're playing pretty good," said UNH junior forward Dalton Speelman. "Yeah, consistency and momentum is key, but we put up 50 shots and that's a pretty good amount of shooting in any league. We've just got to find a way to put the puck in the back of the net."
Second-place UNH squandered a chance to move into a first-place tie in Hockey East with Boston College.
Merrimack moved into third place, a point behind UNH, dropping Boston University to fourth. Providence is a point behind BU in fifth.
UNH and Providence play twice next weekend. They are in Providence on Friday night and play a rematch on Sunday at 4 p.m. at the Whittemore Center.
The Friars held off the Wildcats, 6-5, two weeks ago in Durham. Providence opened up a 4-0 lead midway through the game and knocked Casey DeSmith, UNH's sophomore goaltender from Rochester, out of the game in the process.
The Wildcats got back to 6-4 with just under six minutes to play and made it a one-goal game with 13 seconds left on an extra attacker goal by Kevin Goumas.
Providence freshman Jon Gillies made 37 saves for the win.
Gillies and DeSmith are neck-and-neck in goaltending statistics. They are tied for third in Hockey East in goals against average (2.18) and Gillies is second in save percentage (.927) with DeSmith third (.926).
Tim Schaller, a senior forward from Merrimack, is PC's third-leading scorer with five goals and eight assists for 13 points.
THE UNH FOOTBALL TEAM is adding a couple more players who competed in the state last season to its defensive mix.
Ricky Holt is a defensive lineman from Portsmouth who was a three-year starter and helped the Clippers win the last two Division III state championships.
Odaine Franklyn, 6-foot-3 and 235 pounds, is from White Plains, N.Y., and helped Proctor Academy of Andover to an 8-1 record and conference championship as a post-graduate last season.
Holt, 6-foot-4 and 270 pounds and a New Hampshire Union Leader all-stater, went on an official visit to UNH this weekend and accepted a scholarship offer late on Sunday afternoon. He also had offers from Marist and Stonehill.
"I liked UNH because it's close to home and they have a very, very good football program," Holt said. "They also graduate a high percentage of their football players and they usually have one of the highest team GPA's in the CAA. UNH said the ceiling is very, very high for me. I'm blessed to have this opportunity. I've been told I can play I-AA football and this is my chance."
Proctor coach Ben Rulli raved about Franklyn.
"First and foremost, he's an outstanding kid and UNH has itself a gem," Rulli said. "He's ferocious and the kind of kid who's a quiet leader and hard worker and lunchpail type of player. He's got a lot of football savvy."
Franklyn, said Rulli, had scholarship offers from Albany and Akron coming out of high school but chose to go the prep school route.
Albany and Maine had offered him this time around.
Franklyn, who's playing basketball this season, had 48 tackles for Proctor.
"He's deceptively fast," Rulli said. "He played some tailback for us this year and that was pretty scary for our opponents. Our guys were saying they were glad they didn't have to tackle him."
Holt and Franklyn plan to sign national letters of intent to officially accept their UNH scholarships on Wednesday. The signing period begins that day.
THE MEN'S AND WOMEN'S basketball teams had win streaks snapped on Saturday by Stony Brook.
The men fell just short to the America East leaders, 56-54, at home and the women lost at Stony Brook, 60-47.
The Wildcat men have been playing tougher defense and taking better care of the ball on offense in recent weeks and had 10 assists against seven turnovers against Stony Brook.
"This was a great opportunity for us," said men's coach Bill Herrion. "We're really competing and playing hard. If we continue to play this way, we're going to win some games."
UNH, 6-15 overall and 2-7 in America East, plays at Vermont on Wednesday night.
The Catamounts are 14-7 and 7-2 and beat UNH, 64-51, on Jan. 2 in Durham.
The UNH women play Vermont, 7-14 and 4-4, at home on Wednesday night.
Vermont knocked off UNH, 63-60 in overtime, on Jan. 2 in Burlington.
The track teams will be shooting for a top-three finish in the America East championships scheduled for the Reggie Lewis Track & Field facility next Monday and Tuesday in Boston.
"Albany, UMBC and Binghamton are all strong and Maine has got a lot of quality athletes," said UNH coach Jim Boulanger. "We'll try to break into that top group."
THE SKI TEAM finished third in the Vermont Carnival at Stowe behind Vermont and Dartmouth over the weekend and moves on to the Dartmouth Carnival next weekend.
Alpine events are at the Dartmouth Skiway and Nordic at Oak Hill.
THE WOMEN'S HOCKEY TEAM split a pair of games at Vermont over the weekend and is at Boston University on Saturday and has Connecticut at home on Sunday at noon.
The Wildcats are 11-14-2 overall and 7-7-1 in Hockey East. BU and Boston College each have 13-2-1 records to lead the league.
The Union Leader's Roger Brown contributed to this report.