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College Hockey: 1st-round bye now the goal for UNH
The University of New Hampshire hockey team got swept at home by Vermont last weekend and tumbled in the national tournament picture as a result. The Wildcats fell into a tie for the 23rd spot in the PairWise rankings that mimic the system used by the NCAA to determine at-large teams for the Division I tournament.
The immediate challenge is to win enough games — starting with a series against Boston University that opens tonight at 7:10 at the Whittemore Center — to secure a first-round bye and then home ice for the Hockey East quarterfinals.
Teams that finish sixth, seventh and eighth in the standings will host teams that are ninth, 10th and 11th in single-game series to open the playoffs starting March 6.
"It's unbelievable," said UNH coach Dick Umile of the league race. "I don't even want to look at the last weekend and going to Merrimack for two games."
Maine has played two games fewer than UNH and so have Providence in sixth place and Vermont in seventh. The Friars are a point behind UNH and Maine, and the Catamounts are two points back.
It's Senior Night at the Whittemore Center where the Wildcats will honor defensemen Eric Knodel and Justin Agosta, forwards Kevin Goumas, Nick Sorkin, Jeff Silengo and Dalton Speelman and goalie Jeff Wyer.
Knodel and Sorkin and their classmates have all had career years, Umile said.
"It seems like a couple of weeks ago I was a freshman and playing in my first game and I was so excited about that," Sorkin said. "I've been through a lot of ups and downs, but it's been a great experience and I wouldn't change a thing."
They will again play without junior defenseman Trevor van Riemdsyk and junior center Grayson Downing.Downing came back from a separated shoulder last Friday against Vermont, but injured it again in the second period and had to leave the game. He may be able to play in the season finale series against Merrimack, Umile said.Van Riemsdyk probably will not be able to play in a first-round game if UNH has to play one on March 6 or 7, Umile said, and is more apt to be ready for a possible quarterfinal series.
The Terriers have won only one game — over Vermont, 4-2, on Jan. 24 - since Nov. 30. They are 1-10-3 in that span.
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THE DARTMOUTH men, 4-16-3 overall and 3-12-1 in the ECAC, are at St. Lawrence, 11-14-3 and 5-8-3, on Friday and at Clarkson, 17-11-2 and 10-6-2, on Saturday ... The St. Anselm men, 9-9-4, have won their last three games and are down to three games left in the regular season. They are at Southern Maine on Friday at 7, at the University of New England in Biddeford, Maine, on Saturday at 4 and at Stonehill on Tuesday night ... New England College, 14-7-1, is at the University of New England on Friday night and at Southern Maine on Saturday at 4 ...
THE St. Anselm women, 20-3-0 and on a five-game winning streak, close out the regular season with games at Southern Maine on Saturday at 4 and Plymouth State on Sunday at 2. ... The UNH women, 9-18-2 overall and 4-11-2 in Hockey East, play a home series against Vermont on Saturday and Sunday with 2 p.m. starts each day ... The Dartmouth women, 7-16-1 overall and 6-11-1 in the ECAC, are at St. Lawrence on Friday and at Clarkson on Saturday.