|3rd||11:02||UNH||1-0||EV GW||Kyle Smith (3)||Jamie Hill/1, Harry Quast/7|
|3rd||19:13||UNH||2-0||EV||Grayson Downing (18)||Matt Willows/14|
|Shots on Goal||1st||2nd||3rd||SOG|
|Team Stats and Records||PP||PIM||SHGF|
|New Hampshire (17-17-2)||0/4||4/8||0|
|Rob Nichols (L, 9-19-7)||59:13||2||11||19||12||42|
|New Hampshire Goaltending||MIN||GA||1||2||3||Saves|
|Daniel Tirone (W, 12-4-0)||60:00||0||6||3||10||19|
DURHAM, N.H. - Third period goals by Kyle Smith (Lumberton, N.J.) and Grayson Downing (Abbottsford, British Columbia) lifted the University of New Hampshire men's hockey team to a 2-0 win over the University of Connecticut Saturday night at the Whittemore Center Arena. The win completed a two-game sweep in the opening round of the Hockey East Tournament.
The Wildcats improved their record to 17-17-2, and have now won seven straight. The last time UNH had a seven game winning streak was in 2006, which they extended to nine. UNH also improved their perfect all-time record vs. UConn, and are now 15-0-0 against the Huskies. The Huskies ended their season with a 10-19-7 mark.
UNH goalie Danny Tirone (Trumbull, Conn.) stopped all 19 shots he faced, and is now 12-4-0 on the season. UConn goalie Rob Nichols saved 42 of the 44 shots he faced.
At 11:02 of the third period, Jamie Hill (Glassboro, N.J.) came in on a breakaway, and his backhand shot was stopped, but the rebound came out to a crashing Smith, who knocked it in to finally break the scoreless tie. This marked Smith's third goal of the season, with assists from Hill and Harry Quast (Chagrin Falls, Ohio). Quast started the play with a pass up ice to Hill in the neutral zone.
Just under two minutes into the game, a UConn shot bounced off the backboards right to a forward in front of a wide open net, but Tirone dove over just in time to make a spectacular glove save.
Three minutes later, UNH defenseman Brett Pesce (Tarrytown, N.Y.) turned a Connecticut defender inside out with a gorgeous deke, leading to a one-timer opportunity for Tyler Kelleher (Longmeadow, Mass.), but it was stopped by Nichols. The game remained scoreless through one period, with UNH leading in shots, 11-6.
Both teams got into some penalty trouble in the second period, with a total of seven penalties handed out. UNH was given four power plays in the period, compared to UConn's one, but neither team could convert on their opportunities. The Wildcats dominated the period and had numerous scoring chances, but Nichols stood tall making 19 saves in the period, including a glove save on a point-blank opportunity from Downing. Through 40 minutes, the game remained scoreless. The Wildcats held a 30-9 advantage in shots through the first two periods.
With 47 seconds remaining in the third period, the Wildcats gained a 2-0 advantage as Downing struck for his 18th goal of the season. Senior Matt Willows (Congers, N.Y.) started the play as he stripped a Husky of the puck and played a pass over to Downing. Downing skated in on the left side and ripped a wrister to the top corner of the net on Nichols' glove side. At the end of the game, the Wildcats held on for a 2-0 win. Both teams were held scoreless on power plays as UNH was held 0-for-4 and UConn was held 0-for-2. New Hampshire held a 44-19 advantage in the game in shots.
With the win, the Wildcats move on to the Hockey East quarterfinals which will take place March 13-15. Their opponent for the best-of-three series is yet to be determined.