Allen Lessels' College Hockey: UNH hopes to put a streak together
DURHAM -- The No. 1 priority for the No. 5-ranked University of New Hampshire hockey team as it heads into the last three weekends of the regular season is to string together several wins leading into what it hopes is a long and prosperous postseason.
"We want to get into the mentality of playing like it's the NCAA tournament," said junior Kevin Goumas, the team's leading scorer. "Hopefully we can get on a winning streak as we get down to these last couple of games."
Priority No. 2 may be getting Goumas going again. The junior forward has been slumping of late and has not scored a goal and has just two assists - both in a win over Northeastern - in UNH's last seven games.
This weekend's series at Vermont - starting with a game tonight at 7 on NESN and continuing with a rematch on Saturday at 4 on CBS Sports - may be the perfect opportunity to start.
Goumas leads the Wildcats with two goals and nine assists for 11 career points in nine games against the Catamounts.
"We were talking about him today," said UNH coach Dick Umile. "He's touching the puck a lot, but didn't touch it a heck of a lot in our game Sunday (a 4-4 tie at Boston College). We need him touching the puck a lot and making plays. We're very conscious of that. It's a little bit of a rut he's in and hopefully he'll come out of that."
Goumas wasn't scoring goals but was picking up points at the start of the season and had a goal and 10 assists through the first nine games.
In the next 12, he had nine goals and 10 assists for 19 points.
Now he's looking to heat up again with the playoffs fast approaching.
"Maybe I've got to loosen up my hands on the stick a little bit and not be so uptight and let myself play hockey at the level I know I can play," Goumas said. "Some nights you get a little frustrated and that's not the healthiest way to play. . . . When you get frustrated, more things go wrong."
Goumas had three assists in UNH's 4-0 win over Vermont at the Whittemore Center on Nov. 10.
Umile and the Wildcats liked the way they played in the tie at Boston College on Sunday and hope to build on the effort.
They are 16-8-4 overall and 11-7-3 in Hockey East. They are in third place, a point behind Boston College and two behind first-place Merrimack. Boston University and Providence are tied for fourth, a point behind the Wildcats. UMass Lowell is another point back.
Vermont is 10-14-4 and 7-10-4 and trails UNH by seven points.
The Catamounts are in their best stretch of the season, took a pair of games at Northeastern last weekend and have won three in a row.
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THE DARTMOUTH MEN are down to their last four regular-season games and are in a logjam of seven ECAC teams vying for three remaining byes in the first round of the league tournament.
Quinnipiac is way out in front and has one bye secured. The next seven teams are separated by a total of four points.
Dartmouth and Yale are tied in fifth place with 19 points. St Lawrence and Union are tied for third with 20 points and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is just one point ahead of them in second place.
Clarkson and Princeton are tied for seventh with 17 points.
The Big Green, 12-9-4 overall and 8-7-3 in the league, are at Clarkson, 8-15-7 and 7-8-3, tonight and at St. Lawrence, 15-11-4 and 8-6-4, on Saturday night.
Dartmouth closes out the regular season next weekend with a couple of home games: The Big Green play Princeton on Friday night and No. 1 Quinnipiac on Saturday.
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The St. Anselm men, 14-8-3, take on Stonehill, 11-14-0, again on Saturday night at 7 at home in Sullivan Arena in the semifinals of the Northeast-10 tournament.
Senior forward Mike Richard of Derry had a hat trick to lead the Hawks to a 7-2 win over Stonehill on Tuesday as his team clinched the league's regular season title and No. 1 seed for the tournament.
No. 3 seed Southern New Hampshire University, 7-14-2, plays at No. 2 Franklin Pierce, 8-12-3, in the other semifinal.
The championship game is March 2 at the home of the highest remaining seed. The Hawks are three-time defending champions in the tournament. ...
The St. Anselm women, 17-4-4, are the top seeds and defending champions in the ECAC Open tournament this weekend hosted by Sacred Heart in Bridgeport, Conn.
The Hawks take on No. 4 seed St. Michael's on Saturday at 1 p.m. in one semifinal and No. 2 Holy Cross faces No. 3 Sacred Heart at 4.
The championship is on Sunday at 4, preceded by a consolation game at 1. ...
Plymouth State won its second straight Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference regular-season championship and is the No. 1 seed for the league tournament. The Panthers have a first-round bye and on Tuesday host the winner of a first-round game between Westfield State and Fitchburg State.
The No. 8 seed Plymouth State women play at No. 1 Norwich on Saturday in the ECAC Div. III women's quarterfinals. No. 7 New England College is at No. 2 Manhattanville today.
The New England College men, 9-12-4 and seeded No. 5 in the ECAC Div. III East tournament, play at No. 4 Castleton on Saturday in a quarterfinal game. ...
The Dartmouth women, 15-7-5 overall and 10-6-4 in the ECAC, close out the regular season with games against Clarkson, 24-8-0 and 16-4-0, at home tonight at 7 and St. Lawrence, 17-11-4 and 12-5-3, on Saturday at 4.
The UNH women, 13-15-3 and 9-8-2, also wrap things up with a pair of games this weekend. They play Maine, 5-22-3 and 2-15-2, on Saturday and Sunday at the Whittemore Center. Both games are at 2 p.m.