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Hockey East: Very bad night for Wildcats

Special to the Union Leader

February 24. 2018 2:13AM

BOSTON — At least the University of New Hampshire didn’t lose by one goal, which has been its tendency for much of the season.

Instead, the Wildcats (who are 2-10-0 in one-goal games) lost 8-0 to No. 11 Northeastern in a Hockey East game on Friday with Huskies goalie Cayden Primeau making 29 saves before he was replaced with 8:09 remaining by Jake Theaut.

The Wildcats (10-17-6, 5-13-5) also lost something else: a shot at home ice for the first round of the Hockey East playoffs.

UNH needed to sweep this weekend’s home-and-home series against Northeastern (20-8-5, 14-6-3) and get some help from its conference colleagues. Instead, the Wildcats bused home to Durham having gone 1-12-5 in their last 18 games.

And because Merrimack beat UMass Lowell, 4-1, the River Hawks moved into 10th place with 16 points and dropped UNH into last place with 15. UNH and NU play again tonight at 7 p.m. at the Whittemore Center in Durham in a regular-season finale.

“First of all, it was disappointing that we were even down 4-zip (after two periods) because I thought we were playing pretty good hockey and then all of a sudden we got our butts kicked at the end,” UNH coach Dick Umile said. “The bus is leaving shortly, as I told the team. So when I’m done with the media you better be ready.”

Not surprisingly, Umile found few positives from the game. “We know we have urgency,” Umile said. “We still had an opportunity to get it. Our team came out with a sense of urgency. I thought they played hard but we had nothing to show for it.

“We turned the puck over on the first three.”

Northeastern coach Jim Madigan didn’t feel the final score reflected how the game played out.

“It wasn’t an 8-0 game,” Madigan said. “I don’t think we were thrilled with how we played through the first two periods. We were inconsistent but we had a real good third period.

“We’ll learn from the tape. We’ve got to get better for (tonight) going back to their place. We know there will be emotion at ‘The Whit’ where it’s their Senior Night and probably coach Umile’s last home game depending on how the other teams did tonight. I know their players will be ready to go.”

New Hampshire played Northeastern even for the first half of the opening period but in a span of two minutes the Wildcats’ defense imploded, which enabled the Huskies to skate into intermission with a 2-0 lead.

Brandon Hawkins poked the puck away from a Wildcat behind the UNH cage and passed to Biagio Lerario in the slot. Lerario then passed to Brandon Schultz, who scored on a one-timer from the bottom of the right circle at 9:35.

Just over two minutes later ,John Pickering passed to Patrick Schule, who skated right to left in front of the crease and slid the puck under Danny Tirone (15 saves) for that 2-0 lead.

Tirone prevented Northeastern from increasing its lead when he made a solid stick save on a slap shot by Adam Gaudette seven minutes into the middle period.

But that play didn’t faze the Huskies, who upped their lead to 3-0 at 11:04 when Schule scored his second goal of the game.

Ryan Shea knocked the puck loose to a streaking Schule, who split UNH’s defense, skated in alone on Tirone and scored on a wrist shot.

After Northeastern killed off a UNH penalty, which commenced at 12:59, Umile replaced Tirone with Bedford’s Mike Robinson (nine saves).

Northeastern “greeted” Robinson when Gaudette notched his 28th goal of the season when he scored on a slap shot from the high slot at 18:52.

Just when it appeared the game couldn’t take a turn for the worse from UNH’s standpoint, it did when the Huskies scored a pair of power-play goals early in the third period.

Dylan Sikura scored on a one-timer from the slot at 7:38 and Sikura added another power-play goal at 8:47. The onslaught continued when Lincoln Griffin scored at 9:41 and Lerario followed suit at 11:41.

“It wasn’t dominance,” Madigan said. “You don’t measure your team’s success by what shows up on the scoreboard. It’s more how you execute and how we win puck battles. We were inconsistent in those areas.

“It wasn’t one of our best games. We’ll learn from this and get better (tonight).”

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