To the Eagle’s nest
Wildcats aim to take Hockey East’s top spot
Published: Friday, February 15, 2013
Updated: Friday, February 15, 2013 00:02
When going up against a great goalie, you’re going to need a little luck to score. The UNH men’s hockey team wasn’t able to find any luck on Wednesday night against the Providence Friars, losing 1-0 on a last minute goal by Stefan Demopoulos.
“(In) our meetings, we asked the team to play hard and the pucks will bounce for us,” UNH head coach Dick Umile said. “They played hard but [the puck] didn’t bounce. We had some chances and just couldn’t score.”
The game was a battle of goaltenders for 60 minutes, as both teams allowed more than 30 shots. The teams also combined to go 0-for-10 on the power play, and Providence failed to score on a penalty shot by Ross Mauermann.
“(Mauermann) came at me with some speed and I just tried to match it,” UNH goaltender Casey DeSmith said. “He went to the backhand and tried to get (the puck) over my glove and luckily I was able to get there. It gave us momentum and took some away from them, it’s just a shame it was at the end of the period.”
“(Gillies) is good. He doesn’t give you much,” Umile said. “Casey played well too. After he made the save on the penalty shot, we thought we were going to win.”
The game-winning goal came with just 2:48 left in the third when Mark Jankowski fed an open Demopoulos,whose wrist shot made it past DeSmith.
“The team played a great defensive game,” DeSmith said. “There were chances at both ends, and to lose in the last few minutes? That’s going to hurt.”
The loss drops the Wildcats’ record to 4-5-1 since the start of January, but they’re still sitting at second in Hockey East standings, just a point behind Boston College for the lead.
The top four teams in Hockey East (BC, UNH, Merrimack and Providence) will all face one another this week. BC will play Merrimack on Friday and on Sunday and UNH faces BC while Merrimack takes on Providence. The four teams are separated by 2 points, with Boston University sitting in fifth (21 points) and UMass-Lowell nipping at their heels in sixth (18 points).
The Wildcats got inspired for the weekend when former New Hampshire Governor John Lynch made an appearance at practice on Thursday, along with state hero Dan Doherty, a Manchester police officer who was shot seven times on March 21, 2011.
“I told Dan, while he was in the hospital, that when he was better and could skate, I would take him over to skate with the UNH Wildcats,” Governor Lynch said. “Today is the culmination of something we’ve both been dreaming about.”
“It was definitely motivation (while I was in the hospital),” Doherty said. “Not only to get back on my feet, but I knew if I would be playing hockey that I would definitely be back to where I left off.”
Doherty was sporting a blue UNH hockey jersey with his name and badge number (47) sewn on.
“I called Dick Umile (two weeks ago) and he was incredibly gracious and just said ‘Let us know what day you want to come over so Dan can skate with us,’” Lynch said.
Doherty played high school hockey in Cambridge, Massachusetts and played at Curry College, where he majored in criminal justice.
“The dream of playing Division I college hockey went away as time went on, and I coped with that, but the highlight of my career is playing in the CHaD game,” Doherty said.
The CHaD Battle of the Badges is an annual fundraiser hockey game for the Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth played between regional police officers and firefighters at the Verizon Wireless Arena in Manchester. Doherty had played in two previous CHaD games and was named captain for this year’s game.
“I hold this event close to my heart,” Doherty said. “We fundraise for the kids and our reward is to play in that game. That’s the highlight of my year. Beside everything I went through, the hardest thing I dealt with was not being able to play in that game (last season).
“The bigger picture is the fundraising. We’re $180,000 away from $1 million, and this is only the sixth year. Our goal is to hit that $1 million mark.”
During practice, Doherty showcased his passing and shooting skills, participating in one-on-one shootout drills against both DeSmith and backup netminder Jeff Wyer. During practice, junior Jeff Silengo spoke of what Doherty’s presence meant to the team, “He’s coming out here to have some fun with us and it’s nice to have a local hero with us.”