Allen Lessels' College Hockey: Wildcats' quest for victories put on hold
DURHAM - That's one way to keep the ever-tightening Hockey East standings intact for one weekend night at least: Don't play any scheduled games.
All league games on the agenda for tonight have been postponed because of the snowstorm and they have various makeup dates.
The University of New Hampshire men's team, ranked No. 4 in the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine poll and No. 5 in the USCHO poll, was supposed to play at Providence College tonight. The game has been rescheduled for Wednesday night in Providence.
The change in date does nothing to change the Wildcats' mission against the Friars: They are looking for wins to solidify their standing in Hockey East and the national picture.
"Whether it's home or away, we need to win games," said UNH coach Dick Umile.
The Wildcats are in second place in the league, two points behind Boston College and three ahead of fifth-place Providence.
The postponement means UNH and the Friars will open their two-game series at the Whittemore Center on Sunday at 4.
The Wildcats won their first four Hockey East home games at The Whit this season, but have won only one of the four since then and have lost their last two.
They dropped a 4-1 decision to Merrimack last Saturday despite outshooting the Warriors 52-24 and two weeks before that fell to Providence, 6-5, after falling into a 4-0 hole halfway through the game. They had a 42-27 edge in shots that night.
The Friars won their first regular-season game in Durham in 11 years that evening and snapped an overall winless streak of 17 games (0-15-2) against the Wildcats in the process.
"I don't think there's a lack of effort in the games we've lost here," said senior forward Austin Block. "Especially at home, you've just got to find a way to win. It doesn't matter if we have 100 shots on net. We need to have more than they do go in."
The Friars got to UNH goalie Casey DeSmith, the sophomore from Rochester, early in the first game and bounced him out of the contest with their fourth goal.
The Wildcats took longer to start scoring on Providence freshman Jon Gillies, but eventually got the five past him, the last with an extra attacker goal with just 13 seconds left in the game.
"We need to get to their goaltender right away and not give him a chance to settle in and really attack as much as possible and as quickly as possible," said senior defenseman Brett Kostolansky. "We've got to get in his head, get a lot of pucks on net and make sure he's uncomfortable in net."
The Wildcats can pull into a first-place tie with Boston College with a win. Providence is just a point out of fourth place, two out of third and three behind UNH.
Tim Schaller, Providence's senior center out of Merrimack, is third on the team in scoring with five goals and eight assists for 13 points.
Gillies and DeSmith each have a 2.18 goals-against average, which is third-best in Hockey East. Gillies has a second-best save percentage of .927 and DeSmith is right behind at .926.
Gillies, UNH's Kevin Goumas and Trevor Van Riemsdyk and Dartmouth's Mike Keenan on Monday were named semifinalists for the Walter Brown Award, given annually to the best American-born player in New England. The other candidates are Yale's Kenny Agostino and Andrew Miller, Brown Anthony Borelli, Merrimack's Mike Collins, BC's Johnny Gaudreau and Steven Whitney, Bentley's Brett Gensler, BU's Matt Grzelcyk, Quinnipiac's Eric Hartzell and Jeremy Langlois, UMass Lowell's Chad Ruhwedel and Harvard's Jimmy Vesey.
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THE DARTMOUTH men's hockey team, 11-8-3 overall and 7-6-2 in the ECAC, is scheduled to play at Harvard, 5-15-1 and 3-12-0, on Saturday night.
Dartmouth is tied for third place in the ECAC with Union, two points behind Yale.
Harvard is on an eight-game losing streak that started with a 3-2 loss at Dartmouth on Jan. 12. In those eight games, the Crimson have been shut out four times and scored 10 goals total.
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THE ST. ANSELM men fell to 11-7-2 with a 4-3 overtime loss to Southern New Hampshire on Tuesday night. Zach Lubinski of Hudson notched the game winner for the Penmen.
The Hawks are at New England College in Henniker on Saturday at 4.
Southern New Hampshire has won four straight games and is 6-12-2. Saturday's game at Stonehill was postponed and the Penmen play at Franklin Pierce on Tuesday and have Franklin Pierce at home on Thursday.
The St. Anselm women, 14-4-4 and 9-2-4, earned their first-ever win over Middlebury, 3-1, on Tuesday.
The Hawks' game at UMass-Boston that was scheduled for Saturday has been postponed to Monday.
The Plymouth State men, 15-6-0 and 11-3-0, take on Salem State at home on Sunday at 1. The game was originally scheduled for Saturday.
Senior forward Alex Cottle hit the 100-point mark for his career in Saturday's win over Framingham State. He's at 26-74-100 in 85 career games.