College Hockey: One goal is enough for UNH in opener
DURHAM — Freshman Tyler Kelleher — finally — got the University of New Hampshire a goal early in the third period.
Casey DeSmith and the Wildcat defenders made the lone goal stand for a 1-0 win over Northeastern in the opener of their best-of-three Hockey East quarterfinal match in front of 3,135 at the Whittemore Center on Friday night.
UNH had by far the better of the scoring chances all night.
"We had several scoring opportunities," said UNH coach Dick Umile. "We had three-on-ones and missed opportunities to get good shots.
Sometimes that comes back to haunt you."
It did not on Friday night, thanks in part to DeSmith, a junior from Rochester, and the overall defense in front of him.
UNH outshot Northeastern, 35-27.
"The defense was phenomenal," DeSmith said. "It was one of the best games we've played defensively in a long time. We picked the right time to do it, I guess. We shut down a lot of things. We shut down the slot. They didn't have much going on in the center of the ice and we did a great job of keeping things to the perimeter.
DeSmith continued his stellar play against the Huskies. He has allowed seven goals in seven career games against them.
Friday's was his third shutout of the season, his second against Northeastern.
It was also the first time UNH shut out an opponent in Hockey East tournament play since sweeping Providence, 4-0 and 6-0 in the quarterfinals in 2007.
The teams meet again tonight at 7:05 (WBIN). Game 3, if necessary, is Sunday at 4:30 p.m.
UNH improved to 20-16-1 and Northeastern fell to 18-13-4.
Kelleher got UNH on the board at the 4:49 mark of the third period.
Freshman defenseman Dylan Maller moved in with the puck to the top of the right faceoff circle and tossed it toward the net. Grayson Downing slid it across to Kelleher, who knocked in his fourth goal of the year.
The Wildcats had a bunch of good scoring chances in the first period, but got nothing past Witt.
Senior Kevin Goumas had one of the best opportunities but shot wide of an open net from in close at the five-minute mark. A couple of minutes later, UNH had a three-on-one break but was unable to get off a shot. Six minutes after that, Matt Willows hit the far post with a shot.
The second period was more of the same for UNH and its scoring bids.
Downing and Gomuas had a two-on-one, shorthanded bid early, but did not get a shot off. Dalton Speelman was in tight at the six-minute mark, but his shot went off the crossbar and bounced up and away. With five minutes left, Collin Bourque was all alone in front and Witt robbed him.
Two minutes later, Willows carried the puck in from the right corner and tried to tuck it past Witt. Play continued and the scoring bid was reviewed after the next whistle. The ruling on the ice of no goal was upheld upon review.
Northeastern was getting chances at the other end, too, thanks in part to power plays.
The Huskies had six power-play chances through the first two periods.
UNH won the two regular-season games between the teams. The Wildcats beat the Huskies 3-0, in Boston on Nov. 15. They completed the sweep with a 4-1 win the next night in Durham ... DeSmith had given up seven goals in six career games against Northeastern entering the night. He had a .962 save percentage, 1.15 goal-against average and 5-0-1 record against the Huskies.