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December 26. 2013 9:28PM

Allen Lessels' UNH Notebook: Wildcats fly south seeking wins

The University of New Hampshire hockey team takes a .500 record across the board — 9-9-1 overall and 5-5-1 in Hockey East — south to Florida today looking to jump start the second half of the season.

The Wildcats play Cornell on Saturday night at 7:30 in the second round of the Florida College Classic in Estero. Maine and Princeton meet at 4:05 in the first game of the tournament.

The first-round winners play for the title on Sunday at 7:30, following a consolation game at 4:05.

“We like our team,” said UNH coach Dick Umile on Thursday afternoon. “We played .500 the first half of the year. Last year we had a great first half and were .500 in the second half. We’ve got to turn it around in the second half and hopefully we can get it started down there.”

Umile hopes to have sophomore forward Dan Correale back in the lineup this weekend. He missed the last series of the first semester with a knee injury, but was aiming to be back for this weekend.

Sophomore defenseman Brett Pesce is planning to meet the team in Florida and be in the lineup, too.

Pesce was with the Team USA junior team now competing in Malmo, Sweden, but was the last player cut and will rejoin the Wildcats.

“It’s disappointing he didn’t make it,” Umile said. “But he’ll move on and we’ll move on and it’s good to have him in the lineup.”

Maine and Cornell have been regulars in the tournament since it started in 2000 and other teams have rotated through the event. The Black Bears have won the last two Classic championships and six of the 13 titles so far. Cornell has won the event three times.

Maine beat Minnesota-Duluth and Cornell on the way to the championship last year.

This is UNH’s second appearance in the College Classic. They first played in it in the 2006-07 season, when the Wildcats lost their first game to Cornell, 5-2, and then beat Western Michigan, 5-2, for third place.Casey DeSmith, the junior goalie out of Rochester, leads the Wildcats into Florida. He has a .922 save percentage and 2.13 goals against average to go with his 7-7-0 record overall and 2-2-1 mark in Hockey East.

Senior linemates Nick Sorkin and Kevin Goumas lead the Wildcats offensively. Sorkin has 11 goals and nine assists for 20 points and Goumas gets his 20 with seven goals and 13 assists.

Junior defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk is right behind them with four goals and 15 assists for 19 points.

Cornell is the only team ranked in the Top 20 in the tournament at No. 15 with a 7-4-2 overall record and 4-3-2 mark in the ECAC.

The Big Red have played only once since Nov. 30 and UNH has played twice since then. Both teams last played on Dec. 7.

Cornell lost to Boston University, 3-2, at Madison Square Garden on Nov. 30 and then tied Colgate, 2-2, on Dec. 7.

UNH won a pair of games at Colorado College, 6-2 and 3-0, and then lost at Boston College, 6-2, on Dec. 6 and fell to the Eagles at home, 2-1, the next night.

The Wildcats will be part of a short Logan International Airport ceremony this morning. Turns out, they are the 30 millionth passengers out of Logan this year. Ed Freni, Aviation director for Massport, will make note of the milestone. Freni played hockey at UNH from 1972-74.

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The men’s basketball team looks to snap a nine-game losing streak when it plays at Towson on Monday night at 7:30.

The Wildcats are 2-9. They won their first two games, at home against Division III Suffolk and at Duquesne, but have not won since.

Towson is 7-6 overall. The Tigers are 7-0 at home, 0-5 on the road and 0-1 at a neutral site.

UNH is home against Sacred Heart on Jan. 4.

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The UNH women’s basketball team is 4-7 and plays next at Brown on Jan. 3.

alessels@unionleader.com


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