Men's Hockey: Wildcats finish weekend sweep of Irish
DURHAM - Junior forward Matt Willows had three points, including the game-winning goal with a nifty short-handed move, to lead the University of New Hampshire to a 5-2 win over Notre Dame in front of 6,501 at the Whittemore Center on Saturday night.
The triumph, combined with a 4-2 win on Friday night, closed out an impressive sweep of the Fighting Irish, who came into the weekend ranked No. 14 in the nation.
"It was awesome" sad UNH coach Dick Umile. "The whole weekend was great. They took it to another level tonight."
Casey DeSmith, the junior from Rochester, stopped 32 Notre Dame shots for the win. He had 38 saves on Friday night.
"He's playing with an awful lot of confidence right now," Umile said. "He's running with it."
The Wildcats improved to 16-13-1 overall and 8-6-0 in Hockey East.
They will at worst be in fourth place in the league when the weekend ends and could be in third depending on the outcome of the UMass-Lowell vs. Merrimack game on Saturday night.
Notre Dame fell to 15-11-1 and 4-8-1.
"We shot ourselves in the foot too many times," said Fighting Irish coach Jeff Jackson. "We gave up too many odd man rushes."
Willows broke around a Notre Dame defender with a burst of speed and made a nice move to get goalie Steven Summerhays to commit and drop to the ice. Willows then beat him for a short-handed goal with 3:53 left in the second period to put UNH up for good at 3-2.
"A shorthanded goal is just a back-breaker," Jackson said. "It's unacceptable, really."
It was UNH's third shortie of the season and first since Nov. 15.
Senior forward Kevin Goumas and senior defenseman Eric Knodel had assists.
Up 3-2, the Wildcats had a couple of golden opportunities to stretch the lead to two goals early in the third period.
In the first minute of the period, Goumas stole the puck and had a shorthanded breakaway bid, but never got a shot off. A few minutes later, Tyler Kelleher got in close and hit a post with his shot off his own rebound.
Then Collin MacDonald, charging the net, scored his first goal of the season to give UNH a little cushion at 4-2 at 6:40 of the period.
Collin Bourque, a freshman from Goffstown, had an assist.
Goumas added an empty net goal to close out the scoring with 53.2 seconds to go.
Vermont is up next for the Wildcats. The Catamounts are in for games on Friday and Saturday night.
Senior forward Dalton Speelman gave UNH a 2-1 lead 3:33 into the second period when he took a pass from Willows on a two-on-one break and put the puck behind Summerhays for a goal similar to one scored by Maxim Gaudreault in the first period.
T.J. Tynan evened things at 2-2 when he knocked in the rebound of a Vince Hinostroza shot with 6:34 left in the period.
The teams swapped first period goals.
Gaudreault finished off a nice two-on-one with Kelleher to open the scoring with 9:39 left in the first period. Sophomore Dan Correale also assisted.Mario Lucia collected a drop pass from Vince Hinostroza and blasted a bigtime shot over DeSmith's left shoulder for 1-1 with 2:33 left in the period.
Senior forward Jeff Silengo and junior forward Grayson Downing, who is out with a shoulder injury, have the other two short-handed goals for UNH. ... The Wildcats have six games remaining, the first three at home and the final three on the road. After Vermont, they play Boston University at home on Feb. 14 and face the Terriers the next night in Boston. They are off the weekend of Feb. 21 and 22 and close out with two games at Merrimack on Feb. 28 and March 1.