UNH-Dartmouth: Expect a wild ride
DURHAM — No. 20-ranked New Hampshire and Dartmouth College get back at it tonight at 5 in their 12th rendition of the Battle for the RiverStone Cup at Verizon Wireless Arena.
The Wildcats bring a 12-10-2 record for the season into the game and hold a 7-3-1 edge on Dartmouth in the RiverStone series. The teams have split their last six meetings, including last year's 4-1 Dartmouth win in Hanover that was not part of the RiverStone set.
UNH went to Dartmouth's holiday tournament last season and the series took a one-year break from the Verizon.
Now it's a Saturday night approaching mid-January and the teams are again ready to face off in what has become a traditional meeting in Manchester.
"We've had some crazy games with them at the Verizon," said UNH coach Dick Umile. "Some unbelievable games. Games that turned around in two or three minutes. Anything goes over there."
Two years ago in the last UNH-Dartmouth game at the Verizon, Wildcat Stevie Moses scored all his team's goals in a 4-1 win. In 2008, UNH outshot Dartmouth 57-26 and lost, 5-3. In 2006, Dartmouth tied the game with an extra attacker goal with 45 seconds to play. UNH's Jacob Micflikier scored with 15 seconds left for the win.
But the poster-child game for Wireless wildness dates back to Jan. 12, 2005.
UNH scored early and often and led a shootout 8-5 halfway through the third period. Dartmouth was far from done and scored four goals down the stretch and stunned the Wildcats, 9-8. Nick Johnson, who has split time between the Providence and Boston Bruins this season, scored two goals including the game-winner with 1:27 left. He was a freshman at the time.
Dartmouth struggled early this season and has a record of 3-12-2.
The Big Green come in off a 4-2 win at Boston University and in their two games before that tied Vermont, 1-1, and Northeastern, 8-8.
This is it for nonconference games for Dartmouth. The Big Green get back to ECAC action next weekend with home games against Colgate and Cornell.
UNH has won its last three games and knocked off No. 19 Nebraska-Omaha, 6-3 and 5-2, last weekend.
The Wildcats have improved their special teams play in recent weeks.
They scored multiple power-play goals in one game four times in their first 20 and never in consecutive contests. They've scored two power-play goals in each of their last three games.
UNH scored its two power-play goals early on Friday and rallied with two late on Saturday.
"One Saturday, we scored two (on the power play) and they scored one," said senior defenseman Justin Agosta. "When you win those battles, it's a very good chance you're going to win the game."
Opponents have scored two power-play goals in their last 17 chances against UNH, covering seven games.
Junior forward Matt Willows collected his second career hat trick on Saturday night and six of his 11 goals this season have come in the last five games.
Casey DeSmith, UNH's junior goalie from Rochester, has a .918 save percentage and 2.21 goals-against average. He had a couple of key stops on Saturday night in the third period shortly after Nebraska-Omaha had taken a 2-1 lead. The saves kept the Wildcats within a goal and helped set up the rally.