John Habib's UNH Notebook: Rough weekend leaves Wildcats in rough shape
IN ONE WEEK, the University of New Hampshire men’s hockey team went from a high of sweeping then No. 14-ranked Notre Dame to getting swept over the weekend by the No. 19-ranked University of Vermont at the Whittemore Center in Durham.
It’s a snapshot of how this season has developed so far for the Wildcats — a lack of consistency.
UNH has enjoyed winning streaks of six and four games, but has also suffered through some tough stretches, losing four of six games before the Christmas break and a frustrating 0-5-1 run in late October.
Dick Umile’s club can now be categorized as just an average team. They are 16-15-1 overall and 8-8 in Hockey East, good for a fourth-place tie with Maine, with four regular-season games left. The Wildcats rank tied for 23rd in the PairWise rankings, which mimic the criteria used to choose the NCAA field.
There’s plenty of time between now and the start of the Hockey East playoffs to correct mistakes, but forward Matt Willows indicated after Saturday’s loss that his team needs to show some heart and passion.
“I thought we prepared well during the week, but obviously we weren’t ready to go (against Vermont),” said Willow. “(On Friday in a 5-2 loss) we came out flat and finished flat. Tonight (Saturday) we came out flat and finished strong, but it was too late.”
UNH outshot Vermont 14-5 in the last period Saturday, but didn’t score and lost 2-1.
Two disturbing things surfaced for UNH over the weekend. The Wildcats are 0-12 when trailing after two periods and for a team that is second overall in goals scored with 99, they were held to just three goals by Vermont on home ice.
Vermont (7-7) is still ranked seventh overall in Hockey East, two points behind UNH.
After Friday’s loss, Umile said he had no answers and that his team’s play was “awful.”
Following Saturday’s defeat, Umile was still lamenting the team’s lack of competitiveness.
“Needless to say, it was a tough weekend,” he said in his post-game press conference. “But I give all the credit to Vermont. They came here and out-competed us. They were tough, tough to handle in our own end. We weren’t good in our end the whole weekend.”
UNH looks to rebound against the two worst teams in the Hockey East right now. They have a home-and-home series against Boston University (3-8-3 HE, 8-15-4) beginning Friday in Durham at 7:30 p.m. They have the following weekend off and close out the regular season with a pair of road games (Feb. 29, March 1) against last-place Merrimack (2-10-2 HE, 7-16-3).
THE second-highest tally for shots in a game wasn’t enough for the women’s ice hockey team Sunday.
The Wildcats took 39 shots but still fell 3-1 to the University of Connecticut in Hockey East play at the Whittemore Center. Cassandra Vilgrain gave UNH a 1-0 first period lead, but despite a 39-23 shot advantage, the Wildcats still fell to 9-18-2 overall and 4-11-2 in Hockey East. UNH recorded 38 shots in Saturday’s 7-4 loss at Boston University.
Vilgrain extended her point streak to three games with her ninth season goal. She has at least one point in six of her last seven games. UNH goaltender Ashley Wilkes turned back 20 shots in the loss.
The Wildcats’ ski team enjoyed a successful weekend placing third overall at the Dartmouth Carnival held in Lyme Center and Craftsbury, Vt. UNH totaled 710 points to place behind overall winner Vermont with 1,018 points and host Dartmouth with 853 points in the 16-team Eastern Intercollegiate Ski Association carnival field.
UNH registered second-place finishes in three of Saturday’s four races, the men’s and women’s slalom and, the men’s 20K classic.
The women’s Alpine team amassed 99 points in the slalom thanks to third-place finisher Randa Teschner who was clocked at 1: 45.98. Placing 13th overall was Katie Farrow (1:48.12) and Celine Guilmineau ended 14th in 1:48.44.
In the men’s slalom for UNH, Coley Oliver posted a sixth-place time of 1:43.05. Sam Coffey finished eighth overall in 1:43.30 and Kris Hopkins was 19th in 1:45.37.
At Craftsbury Vt. Nordic Center, the one-two punch of Per Lindgren and Eirik Fosnaes powered the men’s nordic team in the 20K classic. Lindgren finished fifth in 57 minutes, 41.5 seconds and Fosnaes was sixth in 57:45.8.
The UNH women’s nordic team competed well in the 15K classic. Annika Taylor was the top finisher for the Wildcats, placing eighth in 51:30. Katrin Larusson finished in 53:17.4 for 21st place and teammate Lizzie Gill was 24th overall in 53:36.9.