Manchester, NH- New Hampshire got an early five on three power-play seven minutes into the first period and they would capitalize as Austin Block through a puck toward the front of the net that hit a couple bodies and went into the net. The 1-0 lead would last until the intermission, despite Merrimack dominating the latter portions of the first period. The second period would see Merrimack control play and score an early tying goal off the stick of Ben Bahe, but UNH would score three goals in the final seven minutes, and 37 seconds to take a commanding 4-1 lead into the second intermission.
The teams would trade third period goals with UNH scoring an extra, as they cruised to a 6-2 win over Merrimack. UNH improves to 15-6-2 on the season and 10-5-1 in Hockey East, while Merrimack falls to 10-10-5 and 8-6-2. The win moves UNH within two points of Boston College for first in Hockey East and into a second place tie with Boston University.
What I Saw
- The Warriors did a great job controlling UNH for much of the first 40 minutes, but the Wildcats were opportunistic on every chance they had. Merrimack dominated UNH along the boards for much of the game and on five on five action Merrimack was the better team.
- Merrimack dominated the five on five play in the first two periods but UNH controlled the special teams action the full 60 minutes. UNH was 2-3 on the power-play and their penalty-kill was 4-4 as well. The special teams was the difference in the early stages of the game and it was instrumental in giving the Wildcats all the momentum they needed in the game.
- New Hampshire capitalized in the last minute of the second period by scoring two goals, one at 18:58 and another with 0.1 seconds left on the clock. They were able to quickly make a 2-1 hockey game into one with a more manageable, 4-1 lead after two periods. The last seven plus minutes of action was what they showed for much of the first half of the season.
What I Thought
- It was a game of first goals, as UNH’s Dan Correale and Colin MacDonald scored their first collegiate goals in the second period, while Merrimack forward Ben Bahe also scored his first career earlier in the second period. Its always interesting to see a period that three first career goals, just means a lot of pucks were saved for players. Kudos to all three of them.
- In the past four years, the Verizon Wireless Arena has been kind in the last second of periods. At the end of the second period, Trevor van Riemsdyk led a three on one break and sent a feed to Colin MacDonald, the latter put the puck in but the clock read zeros. After a review, it was gauged to have gone in the net with 0.1 seconds left in the period. Of course many will remember the 2009 regional semi, in which UNH had another goal with 0.1 seconds left. That one was at the end of a game to tie it against North Dakota. Of course this one was hardly meaningful other than to give UNH a 4-1 lead after two periods in comparison to that one
- UNH looked like a much different team to what they have the last two games, a loss to this same Merrimack team last night and a loss to Providence last Sunday. The game was a step in the right direction for them as they try to right ship after a struggle early in the second half, going 3-4-1 in the first eight games of the semester.
What They Said
UNH coach Dick Umile said,
“We needed that in a big way and I congratulate our team because they took charge of this game. The team played a good game from start to finish and a couple a big goals at the end of the period was huge for us.”
Merrimack coach Mark Dennehy said,
“They are a good team and they don’t need a lot of good looks to make things happen. Ironically the second period was one of our better periods of the season, its just we had three big time breakdowns that ended up in the back of the net. “It was way too easy for them.”
“We didn’t move the puck fast enough on our power-play because we know they pressure. We were very deliberate on the power-play.”
What Else You Should Know
UNH will travel to Northeastern on Friday night to take on the Huskies. The win was a step in the right direction but the defense still struggled at times on this night, but unlike last Saturday Casey Desmith was up for the challenge.
Merrimack will host their Merrimack Valley rival UMass-Lowell at Lawler Arena in North Andover. The River Hawks have been on quite a roll lately and even at home they will be challenge for the Warriors.
Dick Umile made monumental changes coming into this game. He promoted Dan Correale to the top line in lieu of Nick Sorkin and the third line that was successful at the beginning of the second half was broken up in the game, after struggling mightily the last two. Brett Pesce and Nick Sorkin were both out for UNH, with undisclosed injuries.