Durham, NH – Last weekend looked so positive for UNH, as it swept Notre Dame but its opponent this weekend had different plans for this weekend. Last night, the Catamounts defeated UNH, 5-2, and tonight was much of the same except for the fact UNH looked a tad better. Vermont, though, looked like the sharper team all weekend.
After a scoreless first period that saw Vermont dominate the central portions of the ice, its play was rewarded in the second period. The Catamounts scored first at three minutes, 45 seconds of the second period, as Pete Massar was left alone in the slot. Vermont was great with responses last night and tonight was no different, as it responded quickly with a second one less than three minutes later when super-freshman, Mario Puskarich, scored on a UNH defensive breakdown. Nick Sorkin brought the Wildcats within one at 11:40 of the second and that score held into the third period.
Vermont held on for dear life in the third period, but for UNH it was a case of too little too late. The Catamounts completed the weekend sweep of New Hampshire defeating its opponent 2-1. UVM improves its record to 15-9-3 overall, and 7-7-0 within Hockey East, while UNH falls to 16-15-1, 8-8-0.
With the win, Vermont remains in seventh place in the Hockey East standings, but moves closer to the teams above it. It is now three points behind third place in the standings with 14, while UNH sits in a tie for fourth place with 16 points. Every team has games in hand on UNH and it lost its opportunity to make noise in the standings going forward. It is much of the same in the Pairwise where Vermont moves up into a comfortable 13th and UNH pretty much eliminates itself from NCAA tournament, without a big run in the Hockey East tournament; it now sits in 24th.
What I Saw
- UNH just laid an egg all weekend and didn’t decide to play until Vermont gained a 2-0 lead midway through the second period. The effort was there for the last 30 minutes but before that it was pretty close to the same as last night, where it was awful. From two defensive breakdowns that led to goals, to getting beat to pucks the weekend was just a loss for UNH.
- Credit Vermont, as its interior defense was superb on the weekend, and in this game in particular. On the night, the Catamounts held UNH to just four Grade-A opportunities and it did a great job holding UNH at bay on its on ice. Despite giving up some opportunities in the third period, nothing really comes off as extremely dangerous. When Mike Santaguida needed to make a stop he did. For Vermont, its confidence is brimming at a high after this weekend, as it should be.
What I Thought
- UNH was fighting an uphill battle before this weekend, despite sweeping Notre Dame at home. In a weekend that UNH could have found itself in second at the end of it, only makes UNH’s chances of a home ice and a bye that much tougher. With every team having at least a game in hand on it and only tied for fourth its job just got extremely difficult. For them though the question has to be why were they not prepared this weekend? Vermont is good, but UNH made it quite easy on them.
- Vermont pounced on everything that its opposing Cats through at them. From responding well, to clogging up its own zone, to controlling the neutral zone, the Vermont Cats were just just dominant at times. It possessed the puck near 70 percent of the time and it gave UNH nothing on the weekend. It was the fresher, crisper team this weekend.
What They Said
UNH coach Dick Umile said,
“Needless to say it was a tough weekend but I give all the credit to Vermont. They out-competed us and they were tough to hand in our handle in our hand. Maybe have been the toughest team we have had to deal with in our end. We tried to battle back in the second half of the game but when we got our chances they’re goalie came up big.”
“On 5 on 5 they beat us, bottom line”
“The effort was better but we still had a difficult time of it early in the game. We had a tough time handling them in the defensive zone.”
UNH forward Matt Willows said,
“It was really frustrating especially after the weekend we had last weekend. I thought we prepared well during the week and I thought we were ready. But we obviously weren’t. Last night we came out flat and finished flat. Tonight we came out flat then finished strong but too late.”
What Else You Should Know
Ryan Randall, a native of Durham New Hampshire, made his debut as a junior for UNH. Randall grew up in the same town as the University’s sweater he wore on this night. His appearance in the game was a surprise, as Dylan Maller was scratched as a coaches decision.
UNH will play a pair with a struggling Boston University team. BU will play in the consolation game of the Beanpot on Monday. UNH will be looking for consistency and a will to win.
Vermont plays a practically unbeatable Boston College team this weekend. The Eagles are rolling and will play in the Beanpot final on Monday.