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College Hockey: UNH eyes playoffs
University of New Hampshire goalie Casey DeSmith, of Rochester, makes a save in front of UNH's Dylan Maller(4) and Dartmouth's Jack Barre in the first period of The Riverstone Cup game won by UNH 4-2. (Mark Bolton/Union Leader)
"It's very simple," the University of New Hampshire senior defenseman said. "Last year in the second half we went .500. And in the first half we did great and we got a second seed for the national tournament. We're in the exact same position now, just reversed."
Now there's the matter of the other piece of the equation and putting together the big second half.
"It's swapped now," he said "If we can get the kind of momentum we had in that first half, it would be more ideal than last year."
UNH didn't get the start it was looking for in the second half, dropping a 4-2 decision to Cornell in the first round of the Florida College Classic on Dec. 28.
The three straight wins going into last night's Battle for the RiverStone Cup game against Dartmouth at Verizon Wireless Arena bounced the Wildcats up to a tie for No. 14 in the PairWise rankings on Saturday morning. The PairWise simulates the method used by the NCAA to select at-large teams for the 16-team NCAA tournament.
The Big Green look to get things going in the ECAC with four home games in their next five, starting with tests against Colgate and Cornell on Friday and Saturday. They have some ground to make up at 2-8-0 in the league.
Jason Moy at United States College Hockey Online started his first round of "Bracketology" last week. It's a weekly look at how the field for the NCAA tournament is shaping up and eventually aims to predict what the playoff brackets will be when the field is announced after the league tournaments end on March 22.
There's an awful lot of hockey - a dozen games for UNH, for example - to be played before even the Hockey East tournament begins.
The Wildcats play nothing but teams above them and around them in the polls and PairWise rankings for the next month, which makes things particularly volatile. Eight of their next nine games are at the Whittemore Center before they close out the regular season with a game at Boston University and two at Merrimack.
UNH has a home and home series with Maine - in Durham on Jan. 24 and in Orono the next night - and follows that with two-game home sets with Notre Dame and then Vermont.
There likely won't be room for all of them, all Hockey East rivals, in the NCAAs.
"Every win for us is important, so we don't have to rely on winning the Hockey East playoffs to get into the NCAA tournament," said UNH coach Dick Umile. "We've got to win some more games here."