Durham, NH. – UNH came out rocking in the first period and scored three goals in the first 14 minutes to propel them to a 3-1 victory on Friday night over a struggling Providence College team. Although the final two periods did not bring the same success for UNH, Casey Desmith became the star of the show making 37 saves on the 38 shots that Providence sent his way. Providence tightened up defensively in the second and third periods. The Friars allowed the Wildcats only 12 shots combined in the final two periods, but the three goal deficit proved to be too much to come back from.
Providence drops to 10-13-2 on the season, which drops them out of the TUC category of the Pairwise rankings. The Friars also drop to 8-9-1 in conference and their 17 points is good for sixth place in the conference, but they saw their lead dwindle to just one point over seventh place and two points ahead of eighth. UNH improved their record to 10-14-2 on the season and 7-11-1 in Hockey East. With the win and a Northeastern win over UMass, UNH moved into the all important eight place position ahead of the Minutemen by one point and sit just two points out of sixth place Providence.
What I Saw
-UNH came out strong to the tune of three first period goals but they seemed to tire quickly. Senior defenseman, Damon Kipp, was out of the game for UNH and the Wildcats played with just five defensemen. By the second period, these defensemen seemed to tire out on the big sheet, as the extra forward never played a shift in the game. This tiring out seemed to effect the effectiveness of UNH in the second and third periods.
-Providence shot themselves in the foot early in the game, with missed assignments and two key penalties midway through the first period. UNH capitalized on both these powerplays and took a 3-0 lead into the dressing. Despite dominating UNH in the final two periods, providence still played from behind and were never able to gain the momentum necessary to complete a comeback.
What I Thought
-Casey Desmith looked impressive in the game and he is well spoken for a freshman. His demeanor was calm, and collected throughout the game. His 37 saves were a career high on the night and he was the reason that UNH held on for the win. The win was huge going forward for New Hampshire who were in many ways reeling, but a win is a win in their books. A win that was much needed after losing three consecutive by just one goal.
-Providence was seemingly way too tentative in the first period and this came back to bite them in the end. Their impressive defensive effort in the second and third periods will be lost in the stats but the two solid periods will prove exactly what they might be able to do in the future. Playing a complete 60 minute game was lost tonight and early.
What They Said
Providence Coach Nate Leaman said, “We had a lot of chances in the second and third periods. I felt Desmith made some great saves.”
UNH Coach Dick Umile said, “We started out well and we will take the two points. The third period we didn’t manage well but Desmith made some key saves and we will take the two points. We didn’t play smart in some situations and not as well as we are capable of but we still won. Casey came up with the saves when he had to.
When asked of Damon Kipp’s injury Coach Dick Umile said, “It happened Wednesday. It will be until he is comfortable with it. We will assess tomorrow, it all depends on how it feels to him.”
UNH goaltender Casey Desmith said, “They had been coming hard all the second and third periods. We didn’t want to give up another one to give them momentum. They didn’t come out as hard as they finished. We just needed to limit the chances they had. We were up by two goals, so we don’t need goals; we just have to prevent them.”
What They Didn’t Say
Damon Kipp will be a huge loss for UNH going forward if his injury is long term. Although the injury did not seem serious, according to Umile, his loss was felt as the Wildcats were playing with only five on defense. This seemed to have a huge effect on the second and third for UNH and probably will not work long term. UNH does have a defenseman on the sidelines scratched, in Ryan Randall, and it will be interesting to see if he gets a chance going forward. It was pretty apparent that playing five on defense will not work on the big ice.
What else you should know
UNH and Providence conclude their home and home series tomorrow night down in Providence. The game is important for many reasons but mostly because it could go even further in tightening up the race for positions 6-8 in the standings. With UNH only sitting two points behind Providence and one point behind Northeastern in seventh, the Wildcats could easily find themselves in a tie for sixth place come tomorrow night. Rebounding from a rough stretch will be mightily important for Providence and for UNH building on momentum gained tonight will be huge.