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October 11. 2013 9:54PM

College Hockey: Victory for UNH in opener


Senior goalie Jeff Wyer stopped 33 shots and the University of New Hampshire knocked off Clarkson, 4-1, in its season opener in the Ice Breaker Tournament at Mariucci Arena at the University of Minnesota on Friday night.

It was Wyer's first career win as a starter and improved his overall record to 2-3-1.

Casey DeSmith, a junior out of Rochester, is expected to get the start in the championship game of the tournament tonight.

The Wildcats play either No. 5 Minnesota or Mercyhurst, who met in Friday night's late game.

DeSmith played well and was hot from the start of the season and started all but one UNH game last year.

Coach Dick Umile said during the preseason that he expected Wyer to push DeSmith for playing time.

"And that's a good thing," Umile said. "We're comfortable with our goaltending."

Senior defenseman and captain Eric Knodel scored UNH's first goal of the season on a big slap shot with 5:33 left in the first period and the Wildcats picked up one goal from each of their top three lines.

Junior Matt Willows had a goal and an assist and sophomore Kyle Smith had a pair of assists for his first career points.

Smith, who centered a line for Willows and junior Casey Thrush, played in only two games last season. He scored a pair of goals in UNH's 6-3 exhibition win over Acadia last week.

Willows picked up where he left off last year. Seven of his eight goals for the season came in the last dozen games.

UNH's first lead on Friday night was short-lived.

James de Haas scored a power play goal for Clarkson less than a minute and a half after Knodel opened the scoring.

Freshman Tyler Kelleher put in the rebound of a Kevin Goumas shot just 38 seconds later and the Wildcats had the lead for good.

Willows scored the only goal of the second period and sophomore Dan Correale got one in the third.

Wyer made 20 saves through the first two periods and had 13 in the third.

Clarkson scored the one goal in five power play chances. UNH was zero-for-four with the man advantage.

The Wildcats won their first four games last season.

They play their first home games next weekend when No. 11 Michigan comes to the Whittemore Center on Friday and Saturday nights.

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