DURHAM — Nearly one month after earning its first victory of the season, the University of New Hampshire men’s hockey team got back in the win column Saturday night at the Whittemore Center.
The Wildcats scored three goals inside the final nine minutes to earn a 4-1 non-conference triumph over No. 19 Miami of Ohio.
Patrick Grasso’s first goal of the season proved to be the game-winner. The redshirt sophomore from Ankeny, Iowa, scored on the power play with 8:55 remaining, when he put home a rebound try just outside the crease following an Angus Crookshank shot in front.
Grasso’s tally came 37 seconds into a man advantage and 41 seconds after the Wildcats killed off an Ara Nazarian hooking penalty.
UNH (2-6-4) went 2-for-5 on the power play and 5-for-5 on the penalty kill.
Wildcats senior captain Marcus Vela skated up the right wing and scored on a low, close-range shot with 6:11 remaining to double his team’s advantage. In his return from a one-game suspension, UNH sophomore defenseman Max Gildon tallied an empty-net goal with 3:23 left to cap the game’s scoring.
UNH and the RedHawks (9-6-1) traded goals inside the final 10 minutes of the first period.
Miami opened the game’s scoring with 9:32 left in the first frame, when senior captain Josh Melnick put home a wrister from the slot. Teammate Gordie Green intercepted an attempted pass by Crookshank in Miami’s zone and skated down the ice to set up Melnick’s scoring opportunity.
In a first period that featured five penalties, the Wildcats knotted the score on their second of three power-play opportunities in the frame. Liam Blackburn scored on the man advantage with 5:21 left in the first period via a back-hander from the doorstep following a back-handed, behind-the-net pass from linemate Brendan van Riemsdyk.
Blackburn, a junior, capped the scoring in UNH’s 3-3 tie with the RedHawks Friday night with 33.2 seconds remaining in regulation.
UNH sophomore goaltender Mike Robinson, a Bedford resident, made 33 saves.
The Wildcats killed off two penalties to start the second period and kept RedHawks senior netminder Jordan Uhelski (24 saves) busy over the latter half of the frame. The Wildcats outshot Miami, 12-10, in the second period despite not registering a shot on goal until the 8:48 mark. Four of UNH’s shots on goal in the period came on the power play.
The Wildcats spent the opening 3:43 of the second period on the penalty kill. Nazarian received a boarding call with 3.9 seconds left in the first period and UNH freshman defenseman Ryan Verrier committed the same penalty 1:43 into the middle stanza.