IF Mike Souza was on the Providence College men’s hockey team’s coaching staff, he would tell his players they might be able to exploit the University of New Hampshire’s penalty-kill unit this weekend.
Souza’s Wildcats enter this weekend’s home-and-home series with Hockey East-leading and No. 11 Providence tied for 54th in the country and tied for last in the league with a 74.3 penalty-kill percentage.
UNH (11-8-1, 5-5-0 Hockey East) will play at Providence (13-5-5, 7-4-2) Friday night at 7 before hosting the Friars in Durham Saturday at the same time. Both games will be aired on NESN and former Manchester Monarchs play-by-play announcer Ken Cail will have the call on the Wildcat Sports Radio Network Saturday.
UNH, which received votes in this week’s U.S. College Hockey Online poll, has allowed 15 power-play goals over its past 13 games, including one in each contest over its current three-game winning streak.
“I think that’s been an area of focus over the last couple weeks so I think we know we need to be more effective on it and I think we’re starting to get there,” said UNH sophomore defenseman Will MacKinnon, who scored the game-winning goal against Northeastern last Saturday.
Souza said the Wildcats have struggled clearing the puck and blocking shots on the penalty kill and have not been great on faceoffs in general.
“Our penalty kill is still a work in progress,” Souza said. “I think it’s gotten better but still there’s a long ways to go there…If I’m at Providence, I’m looking at that as an opportunity to expose us and we’re well aware of that. We’ve just got to do a better job. We’ve got to coach it better and then we’ve got to execute it better.”
MacKinnon said the Wildcats’ centers practice faceoffs every day but the responsibility on improving that area is not solely on them.
“Everybody is involved in the faceoff,” MacKinnon said. “If they (the centers) tie it up, we’ve got to get in there and help them out. I think everybody just being dialed in helps out.”
Providence’s 26.1 power-play percentage ranks eighth in the country and second in Hockey East. New Jersey Devils draft pick Patrick Moynihan and Vegas Golden Knights draft pick Jack Dugan have been among the Friars’ most prolific scorers on the power-play with seven and six goals, respectively, on the man advantage.
Dugan leads the nation in both points (41) and assists (34) and teammate Tyce Thompson, another Devils draft pick, is second in points (35).
UNH senior captain Anthony Wyse will be available this weekend to help the blue-line unit attempt to contain a Providence team that averages 3.48 goals per game. Wyse missed the Northeastern game with the flu.
Wildcats freshman Robby Griffin has left the program for personal reasons but will remain enrolled at the school. The forward logged one assist over 13 games this year.
“He’s in great standing with me. He’s in great standing with the program,” Souza said of Griffin. “I told him he’s always welcome to be around our program but he’s decided to leave for personal reasons and myself and the department support his decision.”
Wyse’s return means the Wildcats will have all players available for this weekend’s series, which has been a rarity this season.
“I think it’s something that teams haven’t really gotten from us this year with everybody not being healthy at the same time,” said UNH junior forward Eric MacAdams, who has logged 10 points over his past six games. “I don’t even know how many games we’ve had with a healthy lineup but at this point at the end of the season with just Hockey East play it’s huge and we’re going to need that.”
Dartmouth men prepare for ECAC play after theatrical 1-0-1 weekend
The Dartmouth men’s team concluded its out-of-conference play last weekend with two consecutive comebacks, earning a 2-2 tie at Vermont last Friday and a 5-4 triumph over Boston University the following night.
The Big Green (8-5-3, 5-3-1 ECAC) fell behind 2-0 to the Catamounts before receiving power-play goals from Mark Gallant and Jeffrey Losurdo in the second and third periods, respectively. BU jumped out to a 3-0 lead over the opening 13:19 of Saturday’s game in Hanover before Gallant (power play), Matt Baker and Quin Foreman each scored for Dartmouth over the final 4:54 of the opening period to knot the score at 3-3.
BU took a 4-3 lead 1:46 into the second period but Drew O’Connor scored twice in a 47-second span late in the frame to clinch the win for Dartmouth, which received votes in this week’s USCHO poll.
“They came out of the gate so fast, I thought we were going to have to play catch up all night, but luckily we got right back in it,” Dartmouth coach Bob Gaudet told the school athletic department’s website after the game. “There are some nights (O’Connor) is the best player on the ice and this felt like one of those games (Saturday), but that’s also because he is playing on a great line (with Gallant and Foreman).”
The five-goal output was the Big Green’s most against BU since a 6-2 win in Boston on Nov. 26, 1980, in which Gaudet manned the Dartmouth cage.
The Big Green will host No. 7 Clarkson (15-4-2, 9-2-0) Friday at 7 p.m. and St. Lawrence (3-17-3, 1-10-0) Saturday night at the same time. Dartmouth graduates Lee Stempniak, Ben Lovejoy, who is from Orford, and Tanner Glass will be recognized for recently concluding their NHL careers before Saturday’s game and will sign autographs after the contest.
Saint Anselm’s Conger nominated for Hockey Humanitarian Award
Saint Anselm College senior forward Amanda Conger has been nominated for the Hockey Humanitarian Award.
The award is presented annually to college hockey’s finest citizen — a student-athlete who makes significant contributions not only to their team but also to the community at large through leadership and volunteerism. Finalists for the 2020 award will be announced next month and the recipient will be honored in a ceremony on April 10 as part of the NCAA Men’s Frozen Four weekend in Detroit.
Conger, a Swanton, Vt., resident, was nominated for donating one of her kidneys to Cameron Ouellette, a man she met during an internship in her home state that had Stage 5 kidney disease. Both Conger and Ouellette have had no ill effects since the surgery.
“She derives motivation from the gifts she has been given and wants to the make the most of the life she has, never taking any day or opportunity for granted,” Saint Anselm coach Kerstin Matthews said of Conger in a statement. “Amanda pushes herself and her teammates to reach their full potential, on the ice and in the classroom.”
Conger has logged three goals and nine assists and played in every game for the Hawks (12-7-1) as they prepare to host Colby (8-1-2) Friday (4 p.m.) and Saturday (1 p.m.).
This weekend will mark the 10th annual Pink in the Rink Weekend for both the Saint Anselm women’s and men’s teams. The men will host Northeast-10 Conference foe Post Friday at 7 p.m. and again Saturday at 4 p.m. The weekend will raise money and awareness to fight breast cancer.
NHs Hartman, Herrington contribute to Northeastern’s sweep of BC
Hanover High School alumna and Northeastern senior forward Matti Hartman ended a three-game point drought with a goal and an assist last weekend, when the Huskies swept Boston College.
Hartman assisted on Megan Carter‘s third-period goal that capped the game’s scoring in No. 3 Northeastern’s 6-0 win at BC last Friday and scored her first goal in five games in the Huskies’ 3-0 triumph over the Eagles on Sunday.
Bow resident and Bishop Brady of Concord graduate Sydney Herrington logged her first collegiate point in Friday’s win over BC, assisting on Codie Cross‘ first-period goal that gave the Huskies a 3-0 lead. The sophomore forward has played in five games for the Huskies this season after skating in 12 her freshman campaign.
Franklin Pierce’s Amato logs 50th career goal
Franklin Pierce University forward Nicole Amato became the second player in program history to score 50 career goals in the Ravens’ 7-1 triumph at SUNY Potsdam last Saturday. The junior from Billerica, Mass., scored two goals in the victory, the second of which marked the 50th of her career.
Amato is nine goals shy of tying the program record, which was set by 2016 graduate Karsyn Baker. Amato will look to add to her 15 points (nine goals, six assists) this season when the Ravens (14-6) play at Plymouth State University (3-10) Friday night (6).
The NH College Hockey column runs Thursdays during the season. Alex Hall can be reached at email@example.com.