Amherst, MA. – The UNH defense gave up 51 shots to a hard charging UMass team, but Casey Desmith would come up huge stopping 48 of those 51 shots en route to a 4-3 New Hampshire victory over the Minutemen. Trevor van Riemsdyk scored the first two goals for UNH giving them a 2-0 lead early in the second period. Conor Sheary scored midway through the second period and Joel Hanley scored early in the third period to knot the score at two apiece but New Hampshire’s first line would answer two and a half minutes later with goals by Nick Sorkin and Kevin Goumas 17 seconds apart to put the game away.
With the win New Hampshire improved their record to 14-15-3 on the season overall and 11-12-2 in Hockey East. The two points also clinched them a playoff berth and moved them into sixth place in the Hockey East standings, one point ahead of Providence. UMass falls to 11-15-5 overall and 7-13-4 in Hockey East. The loss put a serious damper on their playoff chances as Northeastern defeated Maine 4-2, which moved the Minutemen into ninth place in the standings, two points out of a playoff position.
What I saw
-UMass dominated the beginning stages of the first period, but UNH came on late in the period. In the second period it was all UMass as they were able to get 25 shots on UNH freshman goaltender, Casey Desmith. On 28 shot attempts in the period, the Minutemen were able to get 90 percent of their shots on net. The 51 shots in the game were impressive enough, but the fact of the matter is that they only had three goals. Finishing and getting screens were lacking for the Minutemen.
-The second period could easily be described as the Casey Desmith period as he sent aside 24 of 25 UMass shots. The amount of saves does not tell the story of the quality of saves that he made. He stopped 11 grade A’s in the second period alone, many of which very impressive saves that he made look routine in some cases.
What I thought
-UNH did not come out with any sense of urgency despite the magnitude of the game. They jumped out to a 2-0 lead early in the second period but allowed UMass to totally take over the game. The game could have easily turned in a big way but UMass was only able to tie it up at 2-2, early in the third period. The response to the tying goal was impressive as they would score two goals 17 seconds apart midway through to take control of the game at 4-2.
-UMass had all the urgency in the world in the first two periods. The compete level for the Minutemen was top notch for a full 60 minutes but they were unable to control the momentum swings. Giving up two quick goals, both on defensive breakdowns, in the third period had to be demoralizing and they were never able to recover.
-The 51 shots in the game for UMass were impressive. This total is mind boggling in some senses but it showed the urgency that both teams played with. UNH’s compete level was low at times and UMass played with a high sense of urgency. This game could have easily gone to UMass but the final score is a hockey score, where in some cases a goalie can steal a game for a team, like Casey Desmith did for New Hampshire on this night.
What they said
UNH coach Dick Umile said, “We are very lucky to win this game. We might have put the puck in the net at the right times but nobody has done this to us yet. Casey obviously won the game for us.”
UMass coach Don Cahoon said, “I felt we pushed real hard in the game and pressed their defense. We created opportunities but didn’t make the most of them when we needed to. Desmith has given them great goaltending the last month or so. Sometimes a goalie can steal a game and tonight was that case.”
UMass forward TJ Syner said, “The effort was not enough because it’s the wins that count. We just didn’t do enough to actually win the game.”
UNH goalie Casey Desmith said, “I was seeing the puck well the whole game. They came hard at us right from the drop of the puck and thankfully I was seeing the puck well. They got a lot chances right from the top of the slot and I got a few of them and I let in a few in but I was seeing the puck really well.”
What they didn’t say
Things have now hit the desperate state at UMass. Despite over 50 shots, the Minutemen received no puck luck. They can now catch only Northeastern in the standings to move into playoff positioning as UNH clinched the season series against UMass with the victory. Danny Hobbs said it best above and wins are exactly what UMass needs. The effort and compete of Friday night will be hard to match so it will be interesting to see what tomorrow brings.
What else you should know
UNH and UMass will finish their season series on Saturday night. UNH has won both meetings so far this year but they will be looking for a better performance than the one that they gave tonight. Massachusetts can only look at their performance, on Friday, to realize what they will have to do on Saturday. The effort and compete were there but the finishing and finesse needed to win the game were not.