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January 19. 2014 5:43PM

Allen Lessels' UNH Notebook: Four losses in one weekend

DURHAM -- THE University of New Hampshire hockey team suffered a couple of major blows during Saturday night’s 3-1 loss to No. 6-ranked Union when two of the team’s best players left the game with injuries.

First, junior Trevor van Riemsdyk, one of the best defensemen in the country, was helped off the ice with an ankle injury late in the first period.

Junior forward Grayson Downing, who centers the team’s second line, left midway through the second period with a shoulder injury.

Coach Dick Umile said on Sunday afternoon that both players were being evaluated and having X-rays taken and would meet with doctors on Monday.

He did not sound optimistic that either would be returning to the lineup any time soon.

“Obviously, it doesn’t look good, the way they went out,” Umile said.

Van Riemsdyk carried the puck into the Union zone and had his back to the boards when he was checked by a Union forward. Van Riemsdyk went into the boards and fell awkwardly and was unable to put weight on his left ankle when he tried to stand up.

He was attended to by UNH’s athletic training staff on the ice and then was helped off by a couple of teammates.

Downing was involved in a hit at center ice in the second period.

Van Riemsdyk leads Hockey East defensemen in scoring and is third on the team with four goals and 19 assists for 23 points. Downing is sixth on the team with nine goals and seven assists for 16 points.

Umile liked the way the team responded to the adversity on Saturday and felt the Wildcats played better than in a 3-1 loss on Friday.

Now they will see how well they respond to the likely loss of two key players.

“Other people have to step up,” Umile said. “We don’t know how long these guys will be out. All the focus now is on finishing as high as we can in Hockey East and trying to get home ice for the playoffs.

That would help.

UNH has 10 games remaining in the regular season, all of them league contests.

The top five teams in Hockey East get a bye in the first round of the league tournament. The top four earn home ice for the quarterfinals.

The Wildcats play teams around them in the standings and ahead of them in the PairWise rankings, the system used to select at-large teams for the NCAA tournament, in the next three weeks. UNH dropped from No. 13 in the PairWise heading into the weekend to No. 22 on Sunday.

The Wildcats play Maine at home on Friday night and the teams meet again on Saturday in Orono. Notre Dame and Vermont come to the Whittemore Center for two-game sets the following weekends.

UNH is in sixth place in Hockey East this morning, a point behind UMass-Lowell, two points behind Maine and three behind Providence.

Vermont is two points behind UNH and Notre Dame is another point back from there.

The Wildcats are 5-5-0 in the league and have not played a Hockey East game since being swept by Boston College, 6-2 and 2-1, on Dec. 6 and 7.

Maine is 11-8-3 overall and 5-3-2 in Hockey East. The Black Bears scored an extra attacker goal with 1:24 to play to earn a 1-1 tie at UMass-Lowell on Friday night and lost at Boston College, 7-2, on Saturday night.

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NASHUA’S Kelsey Hogan and the women’s basketball team put their perfect America East record on the line against Vermont on Monday night at 7 in Lundholm Gym.

Hogan, a senior guard, needs 13 points to hit the 1,000-mark for her career. Hogan and sophomore center Corinne Coia lead the Wildcats with 12.1 points a game.

Hogan had 11 points in UNH’s 61-56 come-from-behind win at Hartford on Saturday. UNH rallied from 26-8 down in the first half.

The Wildcats have won five straight games and are at 9-7 overall and 3-0 in the league.

Vermont beat UMBC, 64-59, on Saturday to improve to 5-12 overall and 2-2 in America East.

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THE MEN’S BASKETBALL TEAM has played its last two games with seven players available, winning one and losing one.

The Wildcats snapped a 13-game losing streak with a 56-42 decision over UMBC on Wednesday and fell to Hartford, 60-43, on Saturday.

Coach Bill Herrion doesn’t know if he will have any of the injured players back for the team’s game at Vermont on Monday night.

Senior guard Scott Morris, who has a hamstring injury, is the closest to returning.

Senior forward Patrick Konan is out for a couple of weeks with a stress fracture in his leg and freshman John Edwards came down on a basketball during pregame warmups on Wednesday and badly sprained his ankle.

Senior center Chris Pelcher is a wild card. He’s out with a leg injury and it’s not clear when he might return.

Pelcher (11.7 points a game, 10.4 rebounds a game) and Konan (11.2 and 6.1) lead the Wildcats in scoring and rebounding.

UNH is 3-14 overall and 1-3 in America East. Vermont is 10-8 and 4-0.

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THE SKI TEAM finished fourth behind Vermont, Dartmouth and Middlebury in the Colby Carnival over the weekend.

The UNH Carnival is up next on Friday and Saturday.

The giant slalom will be held on Friday and the slalom on Saturday at Cannon. The Nordic events are at Jackson Ski Touring with the women’s 5-K classic and men’s 10-K classic races on Friday. The women’s 10-K skating and men’s 15-K mas start skating events are on Saturday.

alessels@unionleader.com

On Twitter: @AllenLessels


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