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College Hockey: Wildcats surge to victory at RPI

Special to the Union Leader

December 06. 2017 11:26PM

TROY, N.Y. — The University of New Hampshire men’s hockey team hadn’t won two straight games since winning its first five games of the season. That all changed Wednesday night.

Fresh off a Saturday victory over Providence College, the Wildcats came back from an early deficit to beat Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute 6-3 in a non-league game at Houston Field House. UNH improved to 9-5-1 overall.

“After a slow start I thought we battled back in the second period,” UNH coach Dick Umile said. “I’m pleased with the way we battled back. It was a good game. We knew that RPI had been playing well. Overall, from second period on we played solid.”

The Wildcats trailed 1-0 and 2-1 in the first period before rattling off three straight goals in the second to take the lead permanently. The rally was energized by the play of Jason Salvaggio, a senior winger. Salvaggio, who hadn’t scored a goal since Oct. 14, scored a pair of power-play goals 2:01 apart to put the Wildcats ahead early in the period. Salvaggio added an assist in the third period.

The first goal for Salvaggio was his 50th career point in a Wildcat uniform.

“I think it was just moving my feet and using my assets, which is my shot,” Salvaggio said of finding the scoring spark. “It was a couple of frustrating months, but I’m glad it’s behind (me).”

Shane Eiserman added a goal, rifling home a shot while falling down in the faceoff circle, late in the frame to open up a 4-2 lead after two periods. RPI of the ECAC, now 3-11-3 overall, closed the gap to one, but goals late in the third period from Michael McNicholas and Max Gildon put the game on ice. Anthony Wyse scored in the first for the Wildcats. UNH scored on all three of its power-play opportunities.

Again, senior goalie Danny Tirone was outstanding, especially down the stretch for New Hampshire. He made 29 saves, including 22 stops on the final 23 Engineers shots.

“He gives us a chance to win every night,” Umile said of Tirone.

The Wildcats are in the middle of a stretch of five games in 10 days. After splitting a weekend series with Providence last weekend, and beating RPI Wednesday night, the Wildcats finish the stretch hosting Army West Point on Saturday night and Merrimack on Sunday afternoon at 4 p.m. The Merrimack game is the last game for the Wildcats before the Christmas break.

“It’s a busy week,” Umile said. “Now we got Army who’s playing well, and Merrimack, who is always tough to play, in our building. We’ll be at home and the guys will go on break. It’s a big opportunity for us. People are contributing, all the lines are contributing, and that’s what we like.”