Durham, NH.- New Hampshire came out of a 23 day layoff flat offensively and continuing the defensive woes that plagued them in the first half to lose to Brown 5-2. The loss was the first on home ice for the Wildcats against the Bears in 81 years.
Brown raced out to a 3-0 lead midway through the second period but proceeded to let the Wildcats back into the game. Connor Hardowa scored on a point shot midway into the second period and Nick Sorkin scored early in the third to make the game 3-2 but Brown held on and got a huge goal at 15:29 of the third to ice the game thus skating away with the victory. Marco De Filippo was strong in the Brown net making 39 saves while Matt Di Girolamo was pulled in the third period for UNH after making 15 of 18 saves in lieu of freshman Casey Desmith, who made 5 of 6 saves including a penalty shot save on Brown captain, Jack Maclellan.
What I Saw
-UNH came out flat in the first two periods and Brown took advantage scoring three goals in the third period. UNH had a lot of sustained pressure in the early going of the third period but was only able to capitalize on one of those opportunities.
-Matt Di Girolamo again struggled at times against Brown and was pulled in lieu of Casey Desmith. Casey Desmith again wooed the crowd with his play. With about 6:30 left in the game Brown was awarded a penalty shot when UNH’s Brett Kostolansky covered the puck in the crease. Desmith made a huge pad save on Brown captain, Jack Maclellan. At this point of the third all the momentum was tilting towards UNH but they were unable to capitalize.
What I thought
-UNH’s defense continues to struggle with lapses. The first Brown goal was the result of a turnover, the second a result of three defenders not taking a man off the puck on the short side, and the third was a Brown player walking in all alone in front of Matt Di Girolamo. These mistakes have plagued them all season and seemingly have hit a point where they may not be able to be corrected.
-Brown was resilient and used timely scoring to defeat UNH. Brown beat UNH to most pucks and played a very motivated game. Brown seemingly wanted the game more and played with the energy necessary to defeat a struggling UNH team.
What they said
UNH forward Stevie Moses Said, “One loss is going to hurt our confidence going forward. We haven’t particularly played well in the first game back from break the last few years and a lot of guys did some good things tonight. We have stuff we can build on.”
UNH forward Nick Sorkin said, “I think our compete level was definitely there tonight just some nights things don’t go your way.I don’t think we use our big ice at home to our advantage enough. We have the guys in the room to make it work and we are confident that we have the time. A couple good bounces and we are right back in it.”
What they didn’t say
As I stated above, the defensive woes that UNH has experienced have become chronic. Hockey is a team game and so is playing defensive hockey. UNH struggles playing 60 minutes with confidence so far this season. Desmith was seemingly a spark for UNH tonight coming in for pulled Matt Di Girolamo in the third period. It will be interesting to see who will play at Fenway given the circumstances that UNH is under. Goaltending isn’t always about how well a goalie plays; the team play in front of that goalie is also a component. Going into Frozen Fenway UNH is struggling to gain a good identity defensively and in net.
What else you should know
UNH gets back to action in the much anticipated Frozen Fenway game next Saturday night. Playing Archrival Maine on such a big stage is an opportunity that UNH has not had. I would venture to say other than National title game appearances this will be one of the biggest games in the history of the program. Unfortunately for UNH it is also a must win game because of their recent struggles.