College Hockey: Red-hot Henrion's hat trick lifts UNH over UMass
DURHAM - John Henrion did it again.
The University of New Hampshire senior forward, who had a most timely goal on Friday night, collected his first career hat trick on Saturday night and goalie Casey DeSmith made 25 saves to lead the No. 5-ranked Wildcats to a 4-0 win over Massachusetts night at the Whittemore Center.
UNH improved to 18-8-6 overall and 13-7-5 in Hockey East and takes over first place in the league for most of today at least.
The Wildcats knew before they came out that Boston College had lost to Providence in a late afternoon game on Saturday, opening the way to first place if they beat Massachusetts.
"(It gave us) a little extra juice," Henrion said. "It was a huge opportunity for us and I think we took full advantage of it. Now we've got to look forward to another four-point weekend against Maine."
The Wildcats play Maine at home on Friday at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday at 4 p.m. to close out the regular season. UNH jumped over Boston College, UMass-Lowell and Providence into the top spot on Saturday night. They lead those three teams by a point in the standings.
UMass-Lowell, though, plays at Merrimack this afternoon at 4 p.m.
"Now we can sit back and watch Lowell and Merrimack," said UNH coach Dick Umile. "You know who I'm rooting for."
A Merrimack win would allow the Wildcats to stay in first place heading into next weekend.
Massachusetts dropped to 11-18-3 overall and 8-15-2 in Hockey East.
The Minutemen close out the regular season against Merrimack. They are in North Andover on Friday night and at the Mullins Center on Saturday night. Maine finishes up with a pair at UNH.
DeSmith, the sophomore from Rochester, collected his fifth shutout of the season.
"The defense tonight was real good," DeSmith said. "They kept a lot of things outside and I really only had to make first saves. When a goalie only had to make 25 first saves, it's a pretty easy game."
Henrion opened the scoring just 1:10 into the second period when he finished off a two-on-one pass from Casey Thrush to beat UMass goalie Steve Mastalerz 1:10 into the second period. Junior forward Nick Sorkin set up the goal with a hustling play that helped Thrush get the puck.
"It was simple for me," Henrion said. "Just tap it in."
Henrion swung off the left boards and fired a shot just under the crossbar on the power play for 2-0 at 10:43 of the period.
UNH sophomore forward Matt Willows broke in alone off a pass from Kevin Goumas and beat Mastalerz high to the stick side to up the lead to 3-0 at the 6:06 of the third period.
Henrion finished off his hat trick with an empty net goal off another feed from Thrush with 27.7 seconds left to play. Thrush assisted on each of Henrion's three goals.
Nick Sorkin, the center between Thrush and Henrion as Umile tweaked his lines for the game, had two assists.
Henrion had gone six games without a goal before Friday night.
He now has 13 goals and nine assists for the season. He shares the team lead in goals with fellow senior Austin Block.
"He's having a good year," Umile said. "He's playing well. ... We've said before he has a great shot and he had a couple of great goals."