Lowell, MA.- The first 35 minutes of the game were played to a scoreless tie, until Trevor van Riemsdyk worked his way down the right slot, received a pass from Kevin Goumas and roofed it to give UNH the 1-0 second period lead. UNH would increase that lead midway through the third period on a goal by Grayson Downing. From that point on the game was never in doubt and UNH would win it 3-0.
Casey Desmith shutout his third straight opponent, becoming the first UNH goaltender with three consecutive shutouts since the 1928-1929 season. The 178 minutes, and 52 seconds of shutout hockey is also the longest such streak for UNH in over 40 seasons. UNH improves to 7-1-1, 5-1-1 in Hockey East, while the River Hawks fall to 2-5-1, 1-4-1.
What I Saw
- Both UNH and UML played a desperate defensive game. Both teams were willing to put body and limb on the line to block shots. The teams combined for 28 blocked shots in the game, with UNH having the edge with 18 of those. Many of them would have been quality opportunities on net if they had gone through, but both defenses played committed on this night.
- Doug Carr was the busier goaltender and was right at home in the River Hawk crease stopping and smothering everything and anything that made its way through. He saw 25 shots in the first two periods, but did not allow UNH to get many opportunities off of rebounds, which has become a key part of the Wildcat offense in the past few weeks. He allowed one goal in the first 40 minutes, but gave up two goals on eight shots in the final twenty minutes.
- Grayson Downing’s insurance goal with ten minutes, 52 seconds remaining in the third period was one of the prettiest goals that a player could score. Downing faked a UML defender to play pass, and when he did so he deked and backhanded it past Carr. This goal was a huge momentum booster for UNH. It gave them all the insurance and comfort that they needed for the remainder of the period.
What I Thought
- UNH has played phenomenal defense in their first nine games and shutout their opponent for the third straight game. Goaltender Casey Desmith left many of opportunities to River Hawk players, but it always seemed as though a defender was right where the puck ended up. Active sticks and forecheck was the name of the game on this night, it wrecked havoc on the River Hawks.
- UML has struggled offensively so far this season, but tonight it was more of UNH blocking shots and being in the right places at the right time. Puck luck has seemingly been in the Wildcats favor all season. Last season, these bounces would have gone to the River Hawks. On this night all the tricky bounces seemed to go against UML.
UNH Coach, Dick Umile said:
“Obviously Casey has done a great job for us, but team defense has been very important for us this season. The guys did a very good job tonight. We kept a lot of the shots outside. With the injuries that happened to us tonight, the guys played a gritty game.”
“Downing’s second goal was huge for us tonight. The team responded well to losing their assistant captain, Greg Burke. We played smart. The guys believe in team defense and everyone is contributing for us. I am very pleased with the effort.”
UNH defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk said:
“Casey is playing unbelievable for us and that is three in a row. We are blocking shots and when we miss something, he is always there to clean it up for us. Everyone is really committed to the team defense.”
UNH goaltender Casey Desmith said:
“It’s a good thing to have going. The team is playing unbelievable in front of me and I would credit them for the three shutouts.”
UML Coach Norm Bazin said:
“We fell short tonight and it was a difficult game for us. We had moments where we could have capitalized and we didn’t.”
What They Didn’t Say
UNH Coach, Dick Umile stated in his post-game press conference that Greg Burke, a senior assistant captain, suffered a shoulder injury in the first period. He did not play the final two periods. If injured for a while his presence will surely be missed as a power-forward on their second line. Umile was unable to give a time-table for his absence, but he is a leader and any extended absence could test the depth of UNH.
What Else You Should Know
- UNH will play a huge road tilt against Boston University on Sunday. The Terriers come into the matchup with a 6-2 win against Vermont in hand. The game is an early season top three matchup. UNH defeated BU 4-1 at home last month.
- UML will head to Massachusetts state school rival, UMass on Sunday. UMass tied Maine at home on Friday night 2-2.
- The 178 minute plus shutout streak that Casey Desmith has going is 2:41 away from the all-time UNH record for consecutive shutout minutes. That record has stayed untouched since the 1968-1969 season.