Men's Hockey: UNH completes season sweep of No. 14 Notre Dame

By Justin Loring
On February 1, 2014

With 4:27 to play in the second period, No. 14 Notre Dame had a power play and appeared to have momentum shifted in its favor. Maxim Gaudreault had gone to the box for a roughing penalty and the Irish had scored just two minutes prior. On the ensuing possession, Matt Willows stripped the puck away from Jeff Costello at the top of the zone. Going one-on-one with defenseman Andy Ryan, Willows pulled the puck to his backhand, cut in front of goaltender Steven Summerhays and tucked home the puck in a wide open net.

"It was the turning point of the game," head coach Dick Umile said after the game. "We were on the receiving end of a shorthanded goal last night; we know how demoralizing it can be."

Willows finished the night with a goal, two assists and went +4, along with teammate Eric Knodel who tallied an assist. The 5-2 win marks the second in a row for the Wildcats, giving them four huge points on the weekend, jumping them into third place in Hockey East. Casey DeSmith made 32 saves on the night for the Wildcats, earning his fourteenth win of the season.

Gaudreault got the scoring started for UNH on a great feed from Tyler Kelleher. After a questionable non-call lead to a 2-on-1 breakout, Kelleher froze the goalie and fed Gaudreault on the left side of the net for his second goal of the season.

Notre Dame countered with a highlight reel goal of their own on a blast from the left faceoff circle by Mario Lucia. Carrying the puck into the zone, Lucia fed teammate Vince Hinostroza on the goal line. Hinostroza gave it back to Lucia, who put the one timer top shelf over DeSmith.

In the second period, UNH was able to capitalize when Notre Dame Defenseman Shayne Taker caught an edge in the neutral zone and lost the puck. Willows lead the rush with Dalton Speelman, putting a saucer pass over the defenseman and onto Speelman's stick for the second goal of the game.

TJ Tynan answered for the Irish, crashing the net and putting home a rebound off a shot by Hinostroza that bounced off DeSmith's chest pad.

Collin MacDonald notched his first goal of the season at the 6:40 mark of the third period, generated by a breakout pass from Justin Agosta. Kevin Goumas also scored an empty net goal with 54 seconds to play to bring the game to its final of 5-2. 

 "We got really flat in the first period last night," Knodel said. "First shift today set the tone for the game ... everyone bought in and really wanted to win as a team."

UNH will return to the Whittemore Center next weekend for a 2-game homestand against Vermont.

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