College Hockey: Defense chips in for UNH in win over UMass
DURHAM — Senior defenseman Justin Agosta scored three goals in his first 82 games for the University of New Hampshire hockey team.
He had two in the first 29 minutes of Friday night's game at the Whittemore Center to lead UNH to a much-needed 4-1 win over Massachusetts in front of 5,326 fans.
The Wildcats won for the first time at home this season and the first time since their season-opening win over Clarkson. They had been winless in their last six.
UNH improved to 2-5-1 overall and 1-2-0 in Hockey East. The Minutemen fell to 3-5-1 overall and 1-2-1 in the league.
UMass has lost all four road games it has played this season, but is undefeated at home in the Mullins Center at 3-0-1.
The Wildcats will try to put a dent in that record tonight when they and the Minutemen wrap up their season series with a 7 p.m. game in Amherst. UMass beat UNH, 2-1 in overtime, at the Mullins last season on Nov. 2.
UMass has not won at the Whittemore Center since posting a 3-2 decision here on Oct. 26, 2006.
Junior Steven Mastalerz made 28 saves for the Minutemen and his record dropped to 3-4-1.
UNH junior Casey DeSmith stopped 22 shots and earned his first win of the season. His record is 1-4-0.
Wildcat defensemen had scored four goals for the season going into Friday night.
They had three in the game. Junior Trevor van Riemsdyk finished off the scoring with a goal late in the third period.
Agosta's second goal of the game put UNH up 2-1 at 8:35 of the second period. Dan Correale set up a trailing Agosta and the defenseman beat Mastalerz with a shot low to the stick side.
UNH had chances to extend the lead when the Minutemen were whistled for back-to-back-to-back penalties just past the midway point of the period. UMass killed the three straight power plays.
For only the second time all season, and first since opening the season with a win over Clarkson, the Wildcats took a lead into the third period.
Sophomore forward Kyle Smith upped the lead to 3-1 at 2:19 into the final period off a feed from Casey Thrush.
It was also UNH's first two-goal lead since the opener.
Van Riemsdyk scored on the power play with 3:13 left in the game to make it 4-1. Tyler Kelleher, a UNH freshman from Longmeadow, Mass., had an assist on the play.
Kelleher has a goal and a couple of assists in eight games for the Wildcats.
The teams traded first-period goals, UNH scoring early and UMass late.
Agosta scored from out front, along the ice and through a screen, to open the scoring 1:51 into the game.
UMass freshman Steven Iacobellis answered with a power play goal with 2:22 left in the period.
The Minutemen have scored at least one power play goal in eight of their nine games and have a league-leading 14 overall.
On the flip side, the Minutemen have given up at least one power play goal in each of their last six games and eight of their nine games.
UMass was 1-for-3 on the power play. UNH 1-for-4.
UNH has a busy week ahead after UMass. The Wildcats play Brown on Tuesday night at the Whittemore Center. They play at Northeastern on Friday and have Northeastern at home on Saturday. . . . Senior forward Jeff Silengo had his first two assists of the season for the Wildcats and Smith scored his first career goal.