Allen Lessels' UNH Notebook: Down to six games, with plenty on the line
THEY'VE got a six-pack to go.
The University of New Hampshire hockey team is down to its last half dozen hockey games as it looks to nail down home ice for the Hockey East playoffs and solidify its chances of making the NCAA tournament.
The Final Six begin with a pair at Vermont this weekend. The Wildcats then finish up with home series against Massachusetts and Maine.
"There's a lot of points on the line still," said UNH coach Dick Umile.
The Wildcats are facing three teams in the bottom tier to close out.
But that's not a whole lot of comfort in this topsy-turvy Hockey East season and all three are playing with plenty on the line.
Maine is sitting in ninth place in the standings and if the league playoffs started this weekend the Black Bears would be on the outside looking in.
But they are only a point behind eighth-place Massachusetts. And Vermont is just three points ahead of that in seventh.
The Wildcats, meanwhile, want to keep pace with the league leaders.
"We're in a battle with a lot of teams now," Umile said. "It's not two or three teams, it's five."
Make that six.
UMass-Lowell took a pair from Massachusetts over the weekend to move solidly into the hunt for home ice.
UNH owns an edge in the season series with Maine and Vermont. The Wildcats won a 4-0 game at Maine on Nov. 4 and followed that up with a 4-0 win over Vermont at home on Nov. 10.
Massachusetts was the only league team to beat UNH before Christmas. The Minutemen knocked off the Wildcats, 2-1 in overtime, in Amherst on Nov. 2.
THE WOMEN'S basketball team starts a run of three straight home games on Wednesday night against Hartford and Alex Hall, a senior guard out of Pembroke.
UNH is 9-15 overall and 4-8 in America East after a 59-45 loss at Boston University on Saturday.
The Hawks fell to 17-9 and 8-5 with a 69-55 loss to league-leading Albany on Sunday.
Hall is averaging 5.6 points, 2.5 rebounds and 1.4 assists a game.
The Wildcats have four games left in the regular season. After Hartford, they play Binghamton at home on Saturday, Albany at home on Feb. 27 and then wrap it up at Maine on March 2.
THE MEN'S basketball team has four games left as well.
The Wildcats, 7-17 and 3-9 after Sunday's 68-56 loss at Boston University on Sunday, are at Hartford, 14-12 and 7-6 on Wednesday. They play Binghamton at home on Sunday, are at Albany on Feb. 28 and home against Maine on March 3.
THE WOMEN'S lacrosse team lost its opener under new head coach Sarah Albrecht, 13-12, on Saturday at Hofstra. The Wildcats take on Massachusetts in their home opener on Saturday at 1 p.m. Albrecht was the associate head coach at UMass for the past two seasons.
The gymnastics team is at West Virginia to take on the host team along with Michigan and Towson on Sunday. The Wildcats then return home for the UNH Invitational on March 2 with Towson, Yale and Brown.
The women's hockey team, 13-14-13 overall and 9-7-2 in Hockey East after Sunday's 3-3 tie with Providence, closes out the regular season with a game at Boston University on Wednesday and home games against Maine on Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m.
The ski team competes at the Bates Carnival, which also serves as the Eastern Regionals, this weekend.
The Bates event wraps up the carnival season for the Wildcats and they head to the NCAA Championships, which will be held at the Middlebury College Snow Bowl March 6-9.