Durham, NH.- New Hampshire and St. Cloud played an even first period on goals by John Henrion and Kevin Gravel. UNH never trailed in the game and would use a key second period goal by Austin Block with 1 minute, 9 seconds to go in the period to take the lead for good.
Nick Sorkin led UNH offensively with a goal and an assist, while Dalton Speelman continued his early season emergence with an assist on Sorkin’s goal, seven minutes into the second period. Trevor van Riemsdyk scored the insurance goal with 14:38 remaining in the third period to ice the game at 4-2 in favor of the Wildcats. UNH improves its record to 2-0-0 on the season in completing a series sweep of St Cloud.
What I Saw
-UNH played a tight defensive game, as Casey Desmith saw only 27 shots on the night. Plagued by inconsistent defense play early last season, UNH has seen the polar opposite in their first two games this season. Dick Umile harped in the preseason on how he wanted a complete different start this season to last and winning the first two games is exactly what he would have wished for.
-When tested, UNH goaltender Casey Desmith was solid on the night. When asked to make a big save he answered. His consistency is something that UNH fed off of as the game went on.
What I Thought
-UNH’s Dalton Speelman was all over the ice in only his second game back since last November. Speelman received a medical redshirt in the offseason and he has taken advantage of it in the first two games. His play early in the season has been key in UNH’s strong start offensively. In two games they have scored nine goals. In comparison to last season, UNH was shut out in both losses to begin the year. Scoring goals was the major question mark coming into the season but they have found their scoring touch early, suffice to say one can wonder if they can keep it up.
-UNH’s defense was very young coming into last season, but after losing just one on the blue line in the offseason they look more poised and experienced coming into this season. The defensive breakdowns that plagued them last year, at times, disappeared in this game. Two wins to begin the season instead of two losses will change their mindset going into the next few weeks. Conference play is the most important part of the season, but two wins against a WCHA foe is always big in terms of the Pairwise rankings.
What They Said
UNH Coach Dick Umile said: “We had great work ethic tonight. It was important for us tonight to match their work level. I am pleased with our team’s effort and Casey made some key saves when he needed to.”
UNH forward John Henrion said: “We enforced a strong start coming into the season because of the start that we had last year. I think we have a lot of confidence now and we know we can score, which is awesome. Now we need to keep this momentum.”
UNH defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk said: “We came back this year as an angry team. We really wanted this weekend and it’s great to get it. Great to see the pay-off late in the games of all the offseason work. Knowing how to win games is a habit and we have that going here in the early going.”
What They Didn’t Say
During the offseason, Dick Umile stated that he would use both goaltenders to begin the year but he went back to what he knows well, Casey Desmith. Jeff Wyer has proven himself to Umile and he has been high on him since last year. It will be interesting to see how Wyer plays into the mix going forward in the season.
What Else You Should Know
UNH has a key matchup next weekend against Boston University at the Whittemore Center. The matchup will be UNH’s Hockey East opener. Boston University won on Saturday night against Providence College by the score of 4-2.