Home » Sports » College Sports
Allen Lessels' College Hockey: For UNH, it's win, and there's still a chance for NCAAs
The goal of the Wildcats, to be sure, is to play a bunch more hockey games before they pack up their gear for another season and the rink crew at the Whittemore Center melts the ice in the arena.
The Wildcats, the No. 4 seeds in the Hockey East tournament, play No. 5 Northeastern in a best-of-three quarterfinal series starting tonight at 7 at the Whittemore Center. The teams meet again on Saturday at 7 p.m. and, if necessary, on Sunday at 4:30 p.m.
Playing at home, said senior forward Kevin Goumas, can only help.
“The home ice plays a big factor in this,” he said. “On the road, it’s their rink, their atmosphere and it’s tough to beat a team twice on the road. Playing at home can definitely help and make a difference.”
His freshman year, UNH beat Vermont in a couple of home games in the quarterfinals and advanced to the semifinals in Boston.
Two years ago, the Wildcats lost a tight series in three games at Boston University and last year they fell at Providence, also in three games.
That’s not the case this season.
The Wildcats are on the outside looking in at playoff scenarios at this point and need to get to Boston and probably need to win at least a semifinal game there to have even a shot at the NCAAs.
Northeastern needs to get to Boston, too.
UNH is 19-16-1 overall and is No. 20 in the PairWise rankings that mimic the system used by the NCAA to select at-large teams for the tournament.
Sixteen teams make the NCAAs.
The Wildcats will again be without junior defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk, who broke his ankle in a game against Union on Jan. 18. Van Riemsdyk has not begun skating and UNH coach Dick Umile said no date has been set for his return.
Goumas will again center for senior Nick Sorkin and junior Matt Willows. The three were reunited as a unit late in the Friday night game during UNH’s last series at Merrimack.
THE Dartmouth men are also looking to extend their season and they have to do it on the road.
The Big Green were the No. 10 seed in the ECAC tournament and went to Troy, N.Y., and rallied big-time to upset No. 7 Rensselaer last weekend.
Dartmouth is 10-18-4 overall.
Union is not only ranked No. 3 in the country at 24-6-4, but the Dutchmen are on a roll. They are 8-0-1 in their last nine games and have won three of their last four by shutout.
- - - - - - -
GOALIE Lauren Slebodnick — a senior out of Manchester and Cushing Academy in Ashburnham, Mass. — and her Cornell University teammates play Mercyhurst at home on Saturday at 3 p.m. in an NCAA quarterfinal game.
Slebodnik made 26 saves to beat Clarkson, 1-0, in the ECAC championship game last weekend. It was her first shutout of the season.