In the team's only full-scale exhibition game before opening the season against tough Hockey East opponents, the UNH men's hockey team blanked the University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds, 3-0, this Saturday before a sold-out family weekend crowd at the Whittemore Center.
Highly touted senior forward Stevie Moses parted the Red D just 16 seconds into the game on a dish from senior center Mike Borisenok, creating a one-on-one opportunity against UNB goaltender Travis Fullerton in which he went right before dragging the puck across the net and plugging it in at the left post to put UNH up, 1-0, on a shorthanded goal.
"Stevie stands out," head coach Dick Umile said. "He generates a lot of offense and I thought that line had some good scoring opportunities. I'd like them to score a little bit more, but they'll be okay."
The Wildcats never relinquished their early lead, backed by the 22-save shutout by senior goaltender Matt Di Girolamo. Di Girolamo was tested at times, playing behind a group of defensemen that includes three players who had only previously skated for the Blue and White in practice.
"Matty was strong in net," Umile said. "Even when they had some good scoring opportunities, he shut that right down. That's what he's got to do for us until we get some experience there."
Sophomore defensemen Eric Knodel and Justin Agosta, as well as freshman Trevor van Riemsdyk, received praise from Umile after their first official minutes were logged.
Agosta factored most prominently on the stat sheet, posting a goal and an assist off two similar attempts from the right point in the second period. The first was credited as his goal, a one-timer that deflected off a UNB defenseman's stick, and the second was redirected by sophomore center Jeff Silengo—who had just won the offensive-zone faceoff—to give Agosta his second point of the night before he missed most of the third period due to cramping.
Silengo also finished with a goal and an assist, the helper coming from a pass that set up Agosta's goal. Dalton Speelman tallied two assists working on a line with Silengo and junior forward Austin Block that scored at 4:59 and 14:30 in the second period.
Junior forward John Henrion headed to the locker room early at 11:50 in the first period with a game misconduct that resulted from a confrontation with UNB defenseman Marc-Antoine Desnoyers in which both parties were dismissed for engaging in some face-masking after a mix-up near the UNB net in front of the student section.
The Wildcats were whistled for seven penalties, five of which occurred during the first stanza. The Varsity Reds were called on eight penalties of their own, but neither team scored a power play goal.
Fullerton allowed only one goal in the first period as his team was outshot, 14-4. The Varsity Reds had the shot advantage in the second period, 12-10, but Di Girolamo turned them all away while Fullerton let two by. In the end, the Wildcats outshot UNB, 35-22.
UNH is thankful for the test before heading into a stretch of big games against formidable Hockey East foes.
"There is no substitute for playing an exhibition game because it's like a dress rehearsal," Umile said. "You can scrimmage all you want amongst yourselves, but there's nothing like that. [The Varsity Reds] are a pretty good team. They've played four or five games and their goalie played well."
UNH begins the season with two road games against Boston University and Northeastern on Oct. 8 and 14, respectively, before coming home to face Boston College on Oct. 15.
"Here we go," Umile said. "We've got some work to do obviously, but that was a good workout for us today."