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College Hockey: 'Cats take first loss in stride

New Hampshire Union Leader

October 22. 2017 10:33PM

DURHAM — The results did not reflect how the University of New Hampshire men’s hockey team played in its weekend series split with Colorado College at the Whittemore Center.

UNH senior goaltender Danny Tirone said the team played better in its 2-1 overtime loss Saturday night than it did when it beat the Tigers, 6-3, on Friday night.

The Wildcats (5-1-0) took six penalties — including four in the third period — and allowed Colorado College (4-2-0) to test Tirone with 48 shots on Friday. UNH went 2-for-2 on the penalty kill and outshot the Tigers, 40-24, in Saturday’s defeat, their first in six games.

UNH coach Dick Umile said he thought the Wildcats transitioned better in Saturday’s loss than they did the night before. Tirone, an assistant captain, felt the team played with a better sense of urgency in the defensive zone and had more of a jump offensively Saturday compared to Friday’s win.

“I think the result wasn’t what we wanted but we played a good game,” Tirone said after Saturday’s setback. “We kind of got back to doing what we’ve been talking about doing and I would say that we played a lot better than we did (Friday). The result was just different.

“But if we play like we did (Saturday) a lot more, we’ll get good results than if we play like we did (Friday).”

Tigers junior left wing Trevor Gooch scored Saturday’s game-winning goal 1 minute, 3 seconds into the five-minute overtime period. Gooch’s shot bounced off the inside of the crossbar and into the Wildcats net.

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Umile said the Wildcats had their share of opportunities to score in Saturday’s loss.

Freshman defenseman Max Gildon scored UNH’s lone goal from the left circle off a feed from Liam Blackburn with 29.8 seconds left in the second period to knot the score at 1-1.

UNH went 0-for-4 on the power play and could not capitalize on two five-on-three advantages Saturday. The Wildcats had two shots bounce off the post and another nine blocked in the loss.

“We had plenty of chances to score and we didn’t score,” Umile said. “It really boiled down to that.”

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UNH sophomore forward Patrick Grasso made his season debut Friday while freshmen Kohei Sato and James Miller made their UNH debuts Saturday.

Grasso, who had been out with a shoulder injury, logged two shots, including one that rang off the post in the first period. He skated on the third line with Blackburn and Brendan van Riemsdyk.

“Grasso being back was great,” Umile said. “It was like he didn’t miss a beat the way he was playing.”

Umile complimented Sato’s speed after Saturday’s contest. Sato skated on the fourth line with Frankie Cefalu and Eric MacAdams.

Miller, a defenseman, logged two shots and three blocks while skating alongside classmate Benton Maass.

Miller replaced sophomore Anthony Wyse in the lineup. Wyse, who left Friday’s game in the second period, is going through concussion protocol and is “probably not probable” for UNH’s game at Vermont this Saturday, Umile said.

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Despite suffering their first loss Saturday, the Wildcats are pleased with where they are six games into the season.

UNH’s 5-0-0 start this year was its best since winning its first five games of its 1993-94 campaign. That winning streak included sweeps of both Colgate and defending Hockey East champion UMass Lowell and four home victories.

Tirone said winning home games is a point of emphasis for the Wildcats this season.

“The big thing for us this year is we talk about defending the Whitt,” Tirone said. “(We) take pride in it. A couple years ago, nobody wanted to come here and play and we’re trying to get that back into our identity.”