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January 21. 2014 12:34AM

Allen Lessels' UNH Notebook: Broken ankle for van Riemsdyk

THE University of New Hampshire hockey team will have to make at least the bulk of its push to the postseason without junior defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk.

The school announced on Monday that van Riemsdyk broke his left ankle when he took a hit into the boards and fell late in the first period of Saturday night's 3-1 loss to No. 6-ranked Union at the Whittemore Center.

Van Riemsdyk will be out for up to six weeks with the injury, said UNH coach Dick Umile.

Six weeks would bring him back in time for the first round of the Hockey East playoffs.

"It could be four to six weeks, hopefully not longer," Umile said. "We just don't know. It could be four weeks."

Four weeks would have van Riemsdyk ready for a pair of games at Merrimack on the final weekend of the regular season, Feb. 28 and March 1. UNH has the weekend of Feb. 21 and 22 off.

Van Riemsdyk was the first of two Wildcats who left the ice with injuries on Saturday night in back-to-back periods.

Junior Grayson Downing, who centers the team's second line, went to the athletic trainer's room with a shoulder injury in the second period.

Downing has a shoulder sprain and is expected to be out three to four weeks.

Umile said he and his staff will meet today and discuss new defensive pairings and line combinations and then start practicing them in preparation for a weekend series with Maine.

Van Riemsdyk has been paired with senior defenseman Eric Knodel since the start of the season.Harry Quast, a 6-foot-4 sophomore, is expected to take van Riemsdyk's spot in the lineup. Quast played the first 20 games of the season and had a couple of assists.

Freshman Dylan Maller joined the team for the second semester and has been in the lineup the last six games and has two assists.

Umile was happy with the way the team, especially the defense led by Knodel, responded to adversity on Saturday.

"The other night the guys did a great job on defense," he said. "But now they can't just do it for half a game. They have to do it until he gets back. The good thing is Harry played the first half. Maller has gotten his feet wet and played well and now they've all got to do a little extra to make up for the loss of Trevor."

Van Riemsdyk, an All American last year, is third on the team in scoring and first in Hockey East among defensemen with four goals and 19 assists for 23 points.

Downing is sixth on the team with nine goals and seven assists for 16 points.

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AFTER climbing to No. 17 in the USCHO national poll with four straight wins, the Wildcats dropped back out of the Top 20 with a pair of 3-1 losses to Union over the weekend. The Wildcats also dropped to No. 22 in the PairWise rankings, down from No. 13.

UNH is 13-12-1 overall and 5-5-0 in Hockey East.

Maine is 11-8-3 and 5-3-2 and slipped a spot to No. 20 in this week's USCHO poll after a 1-1 tie at UMass-Lowell on Friday and 7-2 loss at Boston College on Saturday.

alessels@unionleader.com


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