College Hockey: Wildcats can't get it done
NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. — The University of New Hampshire hockey team got the help it needed to move up in the Hockey East standings on Friday night. Problem was, the Wildcats didn't take care of their own business and lost a 4-2 game at Merrimack College at Lawler Rink.
"It's frustrating," said senior forward Dalton Speelman. "We got a little bit of help tonight? The hockey gods were looking out for us tonight, that's for sure. We had a good opportunity, but we didn't do what we needed to do."
UNH fell to 18-17-1 overall and 10-9-0 in Hockey East and slipped into sixth place in the league standings.
The Wildcats can still grab a top-four spot in the league and home ice for the league playoffs.
To do that, they need to win a rematch with Merrimack back at Lawler tonight and then get more help, too.
If they win, one way they can get fourth place is if Providence College beats or ties Maine and Boston University wins at Northeastern. BU beat Northeastern 4-1 at home on Friday and Providence won 4-2 at Maine.
Merrimack improved to 8-20-3 and 3-14-2.
The Warriors took it to UNH in the second period.
Down 2-0 to start the third period, the Wildcats finally got on the board with a five-on-three power-play goal.
Sophomore defenseman Brett Pesce scored it 2:29 into the period on a blast from out front, off a pass from Kevin Goumas. Eric Knodel also assisted.
Speelman converted a pass from Jeff Silengo for 2-2 at 8:05.
The tie lasted for less than a minute.
Kyle Singleton led a Merrimack charge and Casey DeSmith stopped his shot. But the rebound sat in the crease and Quinn Gould got to the puck and put it behind the goalie at the nine-minute mark.
"It was a two-on-two play and they got to the net and banged away at it and found the back of the net," said UNH coach Dick Umile.
"We had the excitement of the second goal and once they scored, it's like we put all this energy in and now we have to do it again," Speelman said. "It's frustrating, for sure."
The Warriors held the Wildcats off from there.
Connor Toomey hustled to the UNH end to finish off the scoring with an empty net goal with nine seconds left.
DeSmith, a junior from Rochester, had 24 saves for UNH.
Junior Rasmus Tirronen made 23 for the win.
After a scoreless first period, the Wildcats had a rough time of it in the second.
Merrimack defenseman Justin Mansfield got in deep and redirected a pass from Quinn Gould past DeSmith 6:24 into the period to open the scoring.
The Warriors upped their lead to 2-0 with 8:50 left in the period when Brian Christie put in the rebound of a power-play shot by Mike Collins.
The Wildcats managed only two shots in the period and were outshot 17-12 through two periods.
Down 1-0 and shorthanded, they had a good scoring chance when Speelman jumped on a loose puck in front of Tirronen. But the goalie turned away his backhander and Merrimack went the other way and in short order scored its second goal.
"We didn't get it done," Umile said. "We have to come back and find a way to pull out a 'W' here."