Men's Hockey: UNH looks to rebound against Boston University
After an uncharacteristic weekend which saw the Wildcats suffer back-to-back losses to No. 19 Vermont, the team is only looking ahead to get back on track.
"They out-competed us in the first game and the second game took us too long to find our way and get in a groove," forward Jeff Silengo said. "We came out flat and they capitalized."
In both games, Vermont was able to score multiple goals within just a few minutes of each other and shift the momentum of the game their way.
In BU's first season without legendary head coach Jack Parker, the Terriers sit at the bottom of Hockey East with a record of 8-16-4 and 3-8-3 in conference play. The record is deceitful, however, as the Terriers captured victories over then-ranked No. 2 Wisconsin, No. 3 Providence and No. 14 North Dakota in the first half of the season. BU's last game was a bitter 6-2 loss to Harvard after skating No. 7 UMass-Lowell to a tie and losing a close game to No. 1 BC 3-1.
"They're a tough team coming off a tough loss in the [Beanpot] consolation game," head coach Dick Umile said.
The Wildcats are still without two of their top offensive weapons, defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk and forward Grayson Downing.
"There's no doubt we miss Trevor," Umile said. "You don't replace a player like him. He's going to be in the National Hockey League, he's one of the best in the country."
The team doesn't expect van Riemsdyk to return until at least the first round of the NCAAs, and even then he might still not be 100 percent. Downing's status is still up in the air, with the team having a week off before the last series of the year.
"It's possible [Downing] could play against Merrimack," Umile said.
With the injuries keeping van Riemsdyk and Downing out, defensemen Justin Agosta, Eric Knodel and Brett Pesce have all seen a significant increase in minutes, each averaging almost 30 minutes per game.
ALWAYS COMING BACK HOME TO THE U
With Friday being the last home game of the season, UNH will be honoring seven seniors: Knodel, Agosta, Dalton Speelman, Kevin Goumas, Nick Sorkin, Jeff Wyer and Jeff Silengo.
"It seems like a couple weeks ago I was a freshman, it doesn't hit you until you're [on the ice] for the last time," Sorkin said. "It's crazy, everyone tells you it goes fast but you don't believe them until you're three months from graduating."
None of the skaters have played in fewer than 29 games this season, and most have been regulars in the lineup for the past three seasons. Wyer has only played in seven games this season, but Umile was adamant Wyer was more than just a back-up goaltender.
"Even though [Wyer] doesn't have the numbers, what he's done for us in practice and the few games he's played, he's been tremendous," Umile said.
ROLLER COASTER-LIKE SEASON FOR 'CATS
UNH's season has been an up-and-down ride from the very beginning. UNH started the season going 1-5-1, including a 3-2 loss to No. 1 Minnesota, and then won six straight games. After Thanksgiving, the team dropped five of the next seven, but has rebounded and have won seven of the past 12 games. The 'Cats have four games remaining and room to move up in the standings.
UNH is tied with Maine for fourth place (16 points), trailing only Northeastern (17 points), UMass-Lowell (20 points) and Boston College (27 points). Umile summed up his thoughts on the Hockey East picture with a simple thought: "Our league is unbelievable."
IF YOU COULD SAVE ME NOW
After a weekend that saw goaltender Casey DeSmith record a season-high 38 saves in one game, DeSmith struggled on Friday night against Vermont and was pulled in favor of Jeff Wyer for the last 10:03 of the game. DeSmith bounced back with a solid effort the following night, a 2-1 loss, where he stopped 28 shots on the night.
Despite being ranked eighth in both goals against average (2.43) and save percentage (.915), DeSmith is second in Hockey East in saves (408), trailing only Northeastern's Clayton Witt who holds a commanding lead for first (532 saves).
Follow Justin Loring on Twitter @JLo_TNH
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