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January 18. 2014 10:47PM

College Hockey: Two tough losses for UNH get doubled

DURHAM – What University of New Hampshire hockey coach Dick Umile on Wednesday called his team's biggest weekend of the season turned into perhaps its roughest.

Losing a pair of 3-1 games at the Whittemore Center to No. 6-ranked Union was bad enough.

To make matters worse, the Wildcats lost two of their best players to injury on Saturday night.

Junior defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk left the game with an ankle injury late in the first period and junior center Grayson Downing was gone with a shoulder injury late in the second.

Umile had no report on their status after the game, but did not sound hopeful that they would be back any time soon.

"We'll wait until they see the doctors, X-rays and all that stuff," Umile said. "I know nothing at this point, but obviously it doesn't look good. But we'll see. Maybe we'll get a break."

Van Riemsdyk, a first team All American last year and playing even better this season, took a hit into the boards from Matt Wilkins, fell awkwardly and had to be helped off the ice.

UNH trailed 1-0 when he left with 2:46 remaining in the end.

Twelve seconds later, the Wildcats rushed the Union net and freshman forward Tyler Kelleher scored to tie the game.

"I was really proud of the way they played under the circumstances," Umile said. "A lot happened out there. The defense even picked it up a notch, led by Eric Knodel. It was phenomenal. You lose what might be one of the best defensemen in the country and then Grayson was out and everyone stepped up."

UNH couldn't get another shot past Union goalie Colin Stevens, though.

He gave up the one goal and had 40 saves, a night after giving up one with 38 saves.

"Today was just a tough game," said senior defenseman Justin Agosta. "We had a ton of chances and their goalie played outstanding. So did Casey."

UNH goalie Casey DeSmith, a junior from Rochester, allowed two goals and had 36 saves.

Union defenseman Matt Bodie closed out the scoring with an empty net goal with 1:03 to play.

Union improved to 15-4-3.

"They're a tough team to play against," said UNH senior forward Kevin Goumas. "There's not a lot of time and space out there and they're all over the puck. They hunt you down and they're defensive-minded."

The Wildcats, ranked No. 17 last week, fell to 13-12-1.

They closed out the nonconference portion of their schedule with an 8-7-1 mark and they are 5-6-1 at home.

UNH returns to Hockey East play next weekend with a pair of games against Maine. The teams play Friday night at the Whittemore Center at 7:30 and head to Orono for a 7 p.m. game on Saturday.

For the sixth straight game, UNH's opponent scored first on Saturday.

Cole Ikkala passed from the left boards to Mark Bennett charging down the middle and he tucked a backhander past DeSmith with 4:55 left in the period.

A nice bit of passing went Casey Thrush to Kyle Smith to Kelleher for the tying goal. Kelleher beat Stevens with a shot to the glove side for his third goal of the season and first since Nov. 9.

Union went back in front on a Max Novak goal with 3:54 left in the second period. David Ciampini sent the puck in from the left boards to Novak who put it in the net.

Stevens and the Dutchmen protected the lead the rest of the way.

The Wildcats will regroup and get ready for Maine.

"We'll bounce back," Umile said. "We'll move on and focus on Hockey East."

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