Durham, NH – UNH entered the Hockey East tournament without an appearance at the TD Garden in three seasons. It looked hungry to get there again. Both Northeastern and UNH had last week off with byes. UNH had the better of the play in the period but the two teams left the period scoreless. The second period was marked by a UNH parade to the penalty box, as the Huskies had five power-plays in the period, but the Huskies were unable to capitalize. UNH had the better of the five on five play in the period, but again the teams left the period scoreless.
The Third period was much like the first two in that UNH dominated the possession and quality opportunities. Freshman,Tyler Kelleher broke the scoreless tie at four minutes, 49 seconds of the third period when he found a Grayson Downing tip right in front of Witt that he roofed to give UNH the 1-0 lead. The Huskies struggled to get quality chances late and in game, it was held to just four Grade A opportunities in the contest. UNH defeated Northeastern, 1-0 in front of 3,135 fans at the Whittemore Center and improves its record 20-16-1, moving up a spot in the Pairwise to a tie for 17th, just outside tournament positioning. Northeastern is also in that tie for 17th place with a record of 18-13-4. See these Highlights courtesy of UNH Athletics.
What I Saw
- UNH’s defense on the night was a game changer, as Northeastern was unable to get anything going. On the night, the Wildcats held the Huskies to just four Grade A opportunities. Kevin Roy was visibly frustrated in the third period when he took an unintelligent interference call 200 feet from his own net. Roy has to be a significant piece to the Husky puzzle but he was dormant on this night, but credit UNH more than a lackadaisical effort from the forward. Northeastern, as a whole, looked out of place and uncomfortable in key positions.
- Northeastern just struggles to possess the puck, tonight was no different. When Northeastern gets the puck, its passes are weak and often picked off. UNH had many odd man rushes but were unable to capitalize. This was something that NU will have to work on going into tomorrow, because it cannot continue to allow those to UNH. It will eventually capitalize and finish those.
What I Thought
- Dylan Maller and Matias Cleland had their best game in UNH uniforms. The two freshmen were paired together for much of the game and both played solid. This time of year there are no freshman, but then again defensemen are game changers. Tonight, those two formed a solid third D pair for UNH. It may have been the difference in the game in all honesty, because UNH looked as good as ever on defense. They played a huge role in that.
- Offense is usually the name of the game for the Huskies, but tonight they also played pretty responsible in its own zone. Yes, they gave up more opportunities to UNH then they took, but Clay Witt saw most of the dangerous ones and he stopped them. A lot can be said of Witt but tonight his defense bailed him out more than a few times tonight. For NU, though, allowing less odd man rushes and getting more opportunities have to be the name of the game.
What They Said
UNH Coach Dick Umile said,
“I thought the guys did a pretty good job. The first period we came out and played well. We had several scoring opportunities but they were missed. The second period we got involved with penalties, which wasn’t great but we played really well defensively and the guys did a great job on the kill.”
“Maller and Cleland were matched up a lot together, they are two freshmen. They played really well for us tonight. A lot has happened since Trevor left. We are playing Pesce and Knodel a lot. We needed two other guys to step it up and they did a great job for us tonight.”
UNH goaltender Casey Desmith said,
“The defense played phenomenal in front of me. That is one of the best games we have played, defensively, in a long time. Today they shut a lot of things down. They shut down the slot and there wasn’t much going on there and the center of the ice. We also did a great job shutting down odd man rushes. I can thank the forwards and the defensemen tonight because everyone played a fantastic defensive game.”
UNH forward Tyler Kelleher said,
“Scoring a goal like that is pretty big because I haven’t really been getting any bounces this year. It was nice to finally get a bounce right there, a big goal in the playoffs.”
“We have had two weeks off so we have been working really hard on our defense. Coach Umile has been making sure our defense was solid and it worked out tonight.”
What Else You Should Know
Northeastern and UNH will play game two tomorrow night at the Whittemore Center. UNH will look to head to the Garden for the first time since 2011, while Northeastern will look for the equalizer.