Durham, NH — The New Hampshire Wildcats put an end to the Massachusetts Minutemen five-game winning streak behind the play of junior goalie Mike Robinson. The Wildcats continued their strong play at the Whittemore Center where they have won three straight this season.
The Wildcats controlled play for most of the opening period as the Minutemen were called for three penalties. The first one came at 2:54 when Ty Farmer was called for Interference. The Wildcats had steady pressure on Filip Lindberg. A cross-ice pass from Angus Crookshank was tipped on goal by Patrick Grasso, then Anthony Wyse had a chance out front turned away by Lindberg. Kohei Sato had a wrist shot opportunity along the left-wing boards that Lindberg gloved.
At 10:50 Massachusetts was caught with six players on the ice. With Jeremy Davidson serving the Too Many Men penalty the Minutemen threatened on a Jack Suter shorthand bid but the UNH keeper Robinson was there to make the save.
The Minutemen created some chances after killing off the Wildcats power play. A Farmer snapshot from the blue line was tipped in front, Robinson again was alert to the puck.
At 14:55 Max Gildon was called for Tripping. The Minutemen had quality opportunities but missed the net wide on two occasions.
The third Minutemen penalty came at 18:31 when Oliver Chau was sent off for a Face-Off Violation. The Wildcats power play was unable to capitalize in the first period. UNH outshot Massachusetts 14-7 for the period.
The middle frame kicked off with the Wildcats on the carried over power play. After killing that off successfully the Minuteman had a power play of their own when UNH’s Chase Stevenson was called for Interference. At 3:01 a Zac Jones blast from the blue line was tipped by Mitchell Chaffee out front giving the Minutemen a 1-0 lead.
At 8:16 Ryan Verrier wristed a shot from the Wildcat blue line that found it’s way past Lindberg, arching over the goalie into the net, tying the game at 1-1.
Eight seconds later Massachusetts’ Bobby Trivigno was sent off for Hooking. Four seconds after that UNH had the lead as Gildon beat Lindberg with a slapshot from the UNH blue line off of a Jackson Pierson face-off win.
The two teams traded scoring opportunities as play went back and forth throughout the remainder of the second period. UNH continued to outshoot Massachusetts 26-16.
The third period was all Massachusetts as they outshot the Wildcats 13-3 but were unable to put another puck by Robinson, who finished with 27 saves. The closest the Minutemen came was a shot from Chaffee that hit the post while on the power play. Charlie Kelleher was sent off at 15:41 for Boarding.
Senior captain Wyse sealed the win for New Hampshire with an empty-net goal at 19:32. The crowd of 4,707 went delirious as the seconds wound down.
Afterward, Massachusetts coach Greg Carvel was disappointed in both his team’s effort and the officiating. “I wasn’t really happy with our start to the game,” said Carvel. “Taking three penalties in the first period, then three more in the second period, it’s tough to get any momentum going. I thought UNH came out and played great, good pace. Their goaltender was outstanding late in the game. Our third period was much better, we were in desperation mode and UNH was trying to hold on to their lead. We did a lot of good things in the third but their goaltender played well and we couldn’t find a way to score an ugly goal.”
New Hampshire’s Mike Souza was thrilled to have weathered the Minutemen storm of a third period and come away with the two points. “I was proud of the way our kids played,” said Souza. “That’s obviously a really, really talented team, they’re well coached, they play hard, they play on their toes, they have skill. They have a lot of components to be successful long term which is obviously why they were National Finalists last year. Yes, I was happy for our kids. That was a big win for our players and our program. Michael Robinson was outstanding. I thought the kids in front of him were outstanding. They pushed hard in the third and we were able to weather the storm. It’s a nice building block and we have a huge challenge ahead of us going up to Orono.”
UNH jumps into third place in the early Hockey East standings while Massachusetts falls to eighth. The Minutemen have a home and home series with Boston University next. Friday’s puck drop is at 7:30 pm at BU’s Agganis Arena. The Wildcats travel to Orono to face rival Maine in “the Border War” this weekend. Friday is also a 7:30 pm puck drop at Alfond Arena.