Willows' hat trick lifts UNHBy ALLEN LESSELS
New Hampshire Union Leader
January 04. 2014 10:40PM
DURHAM - Junior forward Matt Willows scored a pair of quick-strike goals late in the third period to rally the University of New Hampshire hockey team to a 5-2 win over No. 19-ranked Nebraska-Omaha in front of 3,752 at the Whittemore Center on Saturday night.
Willows added an empty net goal with 1:44 to play to give him his second career hat trick.
UNH swept the weekend series against the Mavericks and won its third straight game overall to up its record to 12-10-1.
Nebraska-Omaha fell to 8-9-1.
The Wildcats scored two power-play goals for the third straight game.
They were 0-for-5 on the power play before Willows scored one to tie the game at 2-2 with 6:14 to play. Kevin Goumas and Nick Sorkin had assists.
Less than two minutes later, Willows kept on a two-on-one on the left with Goumas breaking toward the net from the right. Willows shot and beat Maverick freshman goalie Kirk Thompson for the game-winner.
Sorkin scored UNH's second power-play goal of the game with 2:54 left from Goumas and Willows.
Casey DeSmith, a junior from Rochester, made 26 saves for the win.
The Mavericks took a 2-1 lead on a Ryan Walters four-on-three power play goal 3:21 into the third period.
The Wildcats were in all kinds of trouble as the second period ended.
Penalties on Dalton Speelman and Justin Agosta with 32 seconds to go in the period left UNH facing a two-man power play for two minutes. A slashing penalty on Goumas as the period ended added to the problems.
Nebraska-Omaha turned the power plays into the 2-1 lead.
As they did on Friday night, the Mavericks struck first.
Josh Archibald, who had two goals on Friday, threw the puck on net from a tough angle to DeSmith's left and it went off the glove of UNH defender Brett Pesce and into the net as he tried to knock it away.
Nebraska-Omaha had the lead with 6:09 left on the period.
On Friday night, UNH answered the Maverick goal with a couple of Eric Knodel power play goals. On Saturday, Thompson stopped all six first-period shots he saw.
The Wildcats got it tied quickly in the second period. Casey Thrush scored in close with Collin Bourque, a freshman from Goffstown, and freshman defenseman Matias Cleland assisting 1:52 into the period.
Cleland sent the puck in towards the net and Bourque knocked it down for Thrush, who put it past Thompson. Bourque had his first collegiate point with an assist on Friday night.
The Wildcats, who scored on two of their first three power play chances on Friday, came up empty on four power plays in the second period.