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December 29. 2013 10:47PM

Allen Lessels' UNH Notebook: Called for traveling

The University of New Hampshire hockey team has done its share of travel in the 2013-14 season.

That's over for now.

The Wildcats were due back on campus late Sunday from their latest journey, a trip south to Estero, Fla., and the Florida College Classic.

They have visited Minneapolis and Colorado as well as Florida, but now leave New Hampshire to play a game only once before mid-February.

Ten of UNH's next 12 games are at home in the Whittemore Center, starting with contests on Friday and Saturday against Nebraska-Omaha.

The Wildcats are 3-4-1 in home games this year, but will look to use the home-cooking ahead to their advantage.

"We need to find a way to get on a roll here," said coach Dick Umile early on Sunday afternoon. "We got on one earlier in the first half and we need to do it in the second half."

UNH had a six-game winning streak in November.

The Wildcats hoped to get the second half off to a fast start, but lost a 4-2 game to Cornell on Saturday night in the Florida College Classic.

They improved to 10-10-1 with a 3-2 win over Princeton in a consolation game on Sunday afternoon.

UNH had wide advantages in shots in the first and third periods especially against Cornell, but were not able to capitalize often enough.

The Wildcats opened the scoring in the first period on a goal by senior forward Jeff Silengo, but Cornell matched that one before the period ended.

The Big Red then got a power play goal and a tip-in goal in the second period.

Senior defenseman Justin Agosta cut the lead to 3-2 at 2:09 of the third period, but UNH could not get a tying goal. Cornell scored an empty net goal with 1:02 left to seal it.

The Wildcats outshot Cornell 17-9 in the first period, 18-6 in the third and 46-24 for the game.

"It's getting to be the same old," Umile said. "The guys play hard and get plenty of chances but we're not finishing when we have the opportunities. It's a little frustrating, but obviously we have to stay with it. They're playing the system and working hard to create opportunities. We're just not scoring when we need to."

UNH has five more non-conference games — four against ranked teams — before getting back into Hockey East play.

After the series with Nebraska-Omaha, the Wildcats pay Dartmouth at Verizon Wireless Arena in Manchester on Saturday, Jan. 11 at 5 p.m., and then they have Union at the Whit for games on Jan. 17 and 18.

They return to Hockey East with a home game against Maine on Jan. 24.

The teams play in Orono the next night.

Nebraska-Omaha with an 8-7-1 record was at No. 19 and Union with a 12-3-3 mark was at No. 6 in the most recent USCHO rankings.

In its most recent games on Dec. 6 and 7, Nebraska-Omaha lost (4-2) and tied (3-3) games at Colorado College. The series before that, the Mavericks swept a pair from then-No. 8 Miami.

Nebraska-Omaha coach Dean Blais has been suspended for three games for violating an NCAA rule and will not be on the bench for the UNH series. Blais and the school self-reported that the coach reimbursed junior defenseman Jaycob Megna $400 to replace a watch that had been taken from the team's locker room.

Megna has been suspended as well and will not travel with the team to Durham. Blais is allowed to travel with the team and conduct practices, but not coach during the game.

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THE men's basketball team will be out to snap a nine-game losing streak tonight at Towson.

Towson is 7-6 and has lost four of its last five games. The Tigers are 7-0 at home this year and have an 11-game home winning streak.

UNH must contend with Jerrelle Benimon, a 6-foot-8, 245-pound senior forward who is averaging 17.1 points and 10.4 rebounds a game.

The Wildcats are 2-9 overall and 0-1 in America East and have three nonconference games remaining before they swing into full-time league play.

UNH plays Sacred Heart at home on Saturday at 1 and is at Brown on Jan. 7. The Wildcats get back to league play at Binghamton on Jan. 9.

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THE women's basketball team has lost three straight games to drop to 4-7. The Wildcats are at Brown on Friday. Brown fell to 5-5 for the season with a 71-50 loss to Hampton in the first round of the Georgia Tech tournament on Sunday. Junior center Corinne Coia leads the Wildcats with 12.1 points a game and also averages 5.8 rebounds per contest. Senior Kelsey Hogan of Nashua is averaging 10.4 points game.

alessels@unionleader.com


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