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Alex Hall's College Hockey: Wildcats look for a closer

By ALEX HALL
New Hampshire Union Leader

January 12. 2018 12:23AM




Not surprisingly, the University of New Hampshire men’s hockey team discussed the importance of playing a complete game during its media availability this week.

The Wildcats are coming off a 4-4 tie with Brown last Saturday, a game they led 4-0 entering the third period.

UNH (9-9-2, 4-5-1 Hockey East) hosts league foe Boston University (8-11-1, 6-7-1 Hockey East) tonight at 7. The Wildcats will hit the road for a 1 p.m. matinee at No. 16 Boston College (10-8-3, 10-3-0 Hockey East) on Sunday.

UNH coach Dick Umile said his team has talked a lot about the third period against Brown.

“Coach talked to us as a group and we’ve just got to look toward our next opponent — BU,” Wildcats junior forward Ara Nazarian said. “We’ve just got to finish games, play the full 60 minutes and even if we have a lead, we just have to keep playing tough.”

That 60-minute mindset is something the Wildcats are focusing on over these final 14 regular-season games against league competition, senior defenseman Cam Marks said.

“Once you’ve got a lead going into the third period, good teams always hold that lead,” Marks said. “We’ve got to be able to do that more often going into the final stretch here and if we can do that, we’ll get a few more wins and that will be huge for us.”

One positive in the Brown game for the Wildcats was their scoring output.

UNH was held to a combined three goals over its two games — both losses — in the Ledyard Classic at Dartmouth College on Dec. 29-30. Last Saturday marked the first time the Wildcats scored more than three goals in a game since their 6-3 victory at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute on Dec. 6.

“We got four goals so we’re just going to build off that and see how it goes this weekend,” said Marks.

The Wildcats will try to continue the scoring outburst and end their current five-game winless streak tonight against BU. The Terriers defeated UNH, 4-0, in Boston on Nov. 11.

UNH sits in eighth place in the Hockey East standings but is tied with Vermont and Maine for the second-fewest number of league games played.

“There’s plenty of time to turn this around and that’s what we’re looking forward to,” Nazarian said. “It’s not even close to over….There’s definitely a lot of time to climb up the Hockey East ladder and get some wins here down the road.”

BU, the league’s preseason favorite, stands fifth in the league (6-7-1) and 8-11-1 overall. The Terriers welcomed back four players from the IIHF World Junior Championships — sophomore goalie Jake Oettinger, freshman forward Brady Tkachuk, sophomore forward Patrick Harper and sophomore defenseman Dante Fabbro — for their 3-0 loss to Maine on Saturday. Fabbro earned a gold medal for Canada while Oettinger, Tkachuk and Harper took home bronze for the U.S.

Tkachuk, the younger son of longtime NHLer Keith and the brother of current Calgary Flame Matthew, is a projected first-round pick in the 2018 NHL Draft.

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BRENT BEAUDOIN did not know initially if the puck crossed the goal line. When he realized it did, his celebration was fueled by the joy he felt that the Brown men’s hockey team had erased a four-goal deficit on the road against UNH this past Saturday.

With friends and family cheering him on in the stands, Beaudoin, a sophomore forward from Londonderry, shot through traffic in front of the Wildcats goal and found the back of the net to tie the game at 4-4 with 1:32 remaining in regulation.

“I was in the area and it popped out and when I hit it, I wasn’t sure it fully crossed the line at first,” Beaudoin said. “I was just happy to tie it up and have a chance to win it in overtime.”

After an uneventful extra period, Brown left Durham with a draw despite trailing 4-0 entering the third frame.

Beaudoin logged both the game-tying goal and an assist in the tie, which marked his first trip to the Whittemore Center as a player. The Londonderry High School graduate said he went to UNH games and participated in a few showcases at the arena growing up.

After registering a goal and two assists in Brown’s 4-4 tie with Maine on Monday, Beaudoin leads the Bears in scoring with 13 points (four goals, nine assists) over 16 games. He finished his freshman campaign with 12 points (five goals, seven assists) over 31 games.

Beaudoin, a product of the Islanders Hockey Club of the United States Premier League, credited his scoring success this season to being more consistent and skating with more confidence. He is also pleased with the vast difference in his plus-minus rating this year compared to last season. Beaudoin finished with a minus-20 plus-minus rating last year and owns a minus-1rating this season.

“He continues to get better and there’s a lot to like about how he plays — his skill level, his awareness — and I think he’s got a pretty high ceiling,” Brown coach Brendan Whittet said of Beaudoin after the draw with UNH. “He works very hard at his craft and I think what you saw (Saturday) is kind of where he’s going and what he can be consistently.”

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RYLIE BINETTE of the University of Southern Maine women’s hockey team was named this week’s New England Hockey Conference rookie of the week.

Binette, a freshman from Milan, recorded her first career goal, which proved to be the game-winner, and an assist in the Huskies’ 3-2 victory over St. Michael’s College in the Trader Duke’s Ice Hockey Classic this past Saturday.

The forward scored on a Huskies power play 6:34 into the third period. Binette, a Berlin High School graduate, also registered her first career point in the win by assisting on teammate Julia Ormsby’s goal 7:47 into the second period.

The NH College Hockey column runs Fridays during the season. Alex Hall can be reached at ahall@unionleader.com.


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