Men's Hockey: 'Cats capture win over Black Bears

By Justin Loring
On January 24, 2014

After a frustrating weekend against Union, UNH rebounded in its annual "White Out The Whitt" game versus Maine with a 3-2 victory on Friday night. Tyler Kelleher notched two assists and Casey DeSmith made 32 saves on the night.

"It was everything we thought it would be," head coach Dick Umile said after the game. "Typical UNH-Maine hockey."

The Wildcats wasted no time getting on the board, when Nick Sorkin scored just 47 seconds into the game. Off a Maine turnover in their own zone, Sorkin gathered the puck in front of the net and danced around two defenders. His wrist shot went just inside the left post, past Martin Ouellette's glove.

Maine was able to answer about two minutes later when Will Merchant received the puck in the slot and put a bouncing puck past Casey DeSmith to tie the game.

Despite being outshot 16-6 in the first period, UNH was able to keep the game tied at one goal apiece.

In the second, Casey Thrush snuck behind the defense for UNH's first scoring chance of the period. Brett Pesce hit him with a breakout pass from the neutral zone and Thrush carried it all alone, but Ouellette made the save.

Eric Knodel notched his sixth goal of the season, coming off a slap shot near the blue line. With a screen set up in front of Ouellette, Knodel wound up and the puck found its way past Ouellettes glove to give UNH a 2-1 lead.

"It's always tough when you lose key guys to injuries, but this was a great team win for us," Knodel said. "A lot of guys stepped up for us in some key roles."

Jay Camper scored his first goal of the season at the 2:22 mark of the third to extend UNH's lead to 3-1. Tyler Kelleher carried the puck into the zone and dropped it off to Kyle Smith. Smith fed the puck across the crease to Camper, who tucked it underneath Ouellette's left pad.

Maine was able to fight back in the third period, scoring with their goalie pulled to cut the lead to 3-2 with 54.7 seconds remaining. Despite the late goal, Maine was unable to get another good look at the net.

This marked the Wildcats first game without two of their biggest assets, Trevor van Riemsdyk and Grayson Downing. Van Riemsdyk is expected to miss up to 6 weeks while Downing is looking at a 3-4 week timetable. The 'Cats were dealt another blow in the second period, when Kyle Smith took a big hit behind the net from Ben Hutton. Umile said Smith suffered a concussion on the play and won't expect to see him play tomorrow.

UNH will travel to Maine for the second half of a home-and-home series with the Black Bears, looking to gain another two points in Hockey East standings. 

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