College Hockey: DeSmith, Wildcats shut out Huskies
BOSTON — Roll these numbers around in your mind: New Hampshire has won four consecutive games by a combined margin of 20-3.
At the risk of stating the obvious, that winning streak hasn't happened by accident.
"I think what's clicking right now is the forwards," coach Dick Umile said after UNH blanked Northeastern 3-0 in a Hockey East game Friday night with Rochester's Casey DeSmith (22 saves) recording his first shutout of the season and the seventh of his career. "The puck's going in for Nick (Sorkin). The puck's going in for Grayson (Downing). We like the lines. There's good chemistry going on there and the guys are playing very well as a team.
"That's why you win a couple of hockey games."
Sorkin had his own take on why UNH (5-5-1, 3-2-0) is the hottest team in Hockey East.
"I love playing with those two," Sorkin said referring to linemates Kevin Goumas and Matt Willows. "I think we're really clicking. But it starts with preparation during the week, from Monday all the way up to the game.
"The coaches really set the standard for us and make it easy for us so when we get to the game it's just we're playing hockey. Nobody likes losing. It's not fun. Everyone likes winning. But I think we did a great job not getting too low during the lows and now we're going through a hot streak."
The Wildcats led 1-0 after the first period but that margin easily could have been two goals were it not for Huskies goalie Clay Witt (36 saves).
Casey Thrush sailed down the left wing and snapped off a wrist shot that was ticketed for the far right corner. But Witt flashed his glove hand and robbed Thrush of a goal.
Witt wasn't as fortunate early in the period when UNH scored its goal.
Goumas' shot hit the left side of the net and the rebound came directly to Sorkin, who slid the puck into an open net at 4:26.
The Wildcats doubled their lead in the second period and, just like in the first, it could have been more because of Witt.
In this case, Downing unloaded a slap shot from the high slot and Witt again flashed his ultra-quick glove hand to deny Downing a goal midway through the period.
Northeastern was on its second power play of the second when UNH increased its lead to 2-0.
Dan Correale passed to Jeff Silengo, who was busting down the middle. Silengo beat Witt to the upper-right corner at 6:45 for a short-handed goal.
"It was a quick transition," Silengo said. "Justin Agosta had a good turnover. We've been working all week on trying to do quick transitioning."
UNH reached a milestone of sorts at 8:15 of the third when Kyle Smith scored to give his team a 3-0 lead — the 14th consecutive period in which the Wildcats have scored at least one goal.
Trevor van Riemsdyk slid a cross-ice pass to Smith in the left circle and Smith beat Witt on a one-timer.
"We played a solid, 60-minute game," Umile said. "We moved the puck well and played well defensively. I was pleased with the way the team played in all zones.
"It was a good win coming down here winning at Matthews and getting ourselves back into Hockey East play."