Durham, NH- RPI came off a loss last night against Boston University and struggled to find their stride in the early going as UNH would take an early 1-0 lead off the stick of Eric Knodel at ten minutes, 15 seconds of the period. RPI would find that stride later in the period as Curtis Leonard took a point shot and it ended up in the back of the net. The Wildcats and Engineers entered the first intermission tied at one apeice. In the second period, UNH dominated the scoring as they would take a 3-1 lead into the second intermission on goals by John Henrion and Justin Agosta
The third period would bring much of the same from the Wildcats, as Connor Hardowa would add a goal and Jeff Silengo would score an empty-net goal to make it a 5-1 game. Rensselaer would get a second goal from Curtis Leonard, but it would not be enough as UNH would escape with the 5-2 win. New Hampshire improves to 13-3-2 on the season, while Rensselaer falls to 6-9-4.
What I Saw
- RPI looked like the aggressor for much of the first period, as they held a really good UNH offense to just six shots. This is often the case when teams play the night before and their opponent has not, but RPI played it to perfection but were unable to get a go-ahead goal to take a lead into the intermission. The second period was the total opposite of the first and RPI was never able to go on the attack as UNH clogged up the neutral zone. When RPI entered the zone in the second, UNH kept them to the wall. In the second RPI had just one Grade-A opportunity.
- In the first period, UNH seemed very lackadaisical to the puck but escaped the first period tied at one. They were hardly winning the battles but they were doing enough to keep RPI at bay. The second period brought a whole new one for the Wildcats. One with effort and speed. RPI did not have an answer for the UNH speed and skill, and the Wildcats were able to take advantage of this in the second and third periods.
- New Hampshire did a masterful job of using their defense as offense in this game. The UNH defense corps combined for three goals on the night, as Eric Knodel, Justin Agosta and Connor Hardowa all f0und the scoresheet. Late in the third period Hardowa and van Riemsdyk led a two-on-one break. Few teams would allow two defensemen to lead the rush but this has become an everyday part of the offense for UNH.
What I Thought
- In the third period the Engineers looked like a tired bunch. In the last nine days, they have played five games. Last weekend the Engineers split on the road with St. Cloud State and this weekend RPI fell to BU in overtime on Friday night and UNH on this night. This was a rough stretch for RPI and will only make them better going forward. The rough stretch definitely took its toll on them and it was evident in the third period of this one, as they struggled to keep up with UNH in the period.
- This was the game that UNH needed after taking two games in a row on the chin against BU and Dartmouth, while also giving Bemidji State an overtime game on Monday. It wasn’t a complete 60 minute effort, but on this night 40 minutes was enough for UNH to take a non-conference victory.
What They Said
Renesselaer coach Seth Appert said,
“Credit to UNH, but I thought we were very good in the first. We probably had opportunities to take a lead in that period, but Desmith played well for them and made some key saves. I thought they were very good in the second. They started winning defensive zone puck battles, which started leading to transition offense for them. Their rush offense was really good in the second period.”
“We knew this was a challenging stretch for us. We really blew a game we should have won last night. In the second half of this game UNH was harder on their sticks than we were, and this was really the difference in the game. A lot of their rushes were started by wins in the defensive zone.”
“It was the same thought process as always when you pull the goalie, to try and score a goal. It was an opportunity for us because we had a tv timeout coming up and there was enough time being down three. If you can get a quick one off the faceoff and then its a two goal game with four minutes to go, and there is enough time.”
UNH coach Dick Umile said,
“We just finished our non-league schedule and what I really liked is that we got better as the game went on. The defense got into the rush well tonight. It was a good balanced game all around for us.”
“Our offense tonight came from good defense.”
UNH forward John Henrion said,
“Its great to have them considered our fourth line (Willows, Camper, Correale) play so well. Everytime they are on the ice its a big momentum swing for us. When they contribute its huge for us.”
UNH defenseman Connor Hardowa said,
“We got better as the game went on. We knew they were going to be hardworking team and come at us pretty hard but I think we battled in the first and we got better, and started to put some pucks in the net.”
What Else You Should Know
UNH has a huge weekend ahead of them as they will take on Hockey East leading Boston College in a home and home series next weekend. Tonight was a step in the right direction for them, as they got better as the game went along. The effort may not have been the greatest but the confidence that a 5-2 victory brings should send them in the right direction.
Rensselaer returns to conference play next weekend with a tough road trip. On Friday night they will meet the hottest team in the nation, in Quinnipiac. The Bobcats are undefeated in 14 games and are riding a seven game winning streak. The game will be a test for the Engineers but also serves a good chance to prove themselves against a great team.
Nick Sorkin had surgery this week to repair a break near his thumb. The injury should not keep the third-liner out long, only a couple of weeks. The surgery itself was pro-active.