DURHAM, N.H. – Casey DeSmith (Rochester, N.H.) recorded a career-high 37 saves to backbone the University of New Hampshire men's ice hockey team to Friday night's 3-1 victory against Providence College in Hockey East action at the Whittemore Center.
UNH ended a three-game losing streak – and a stretch of five consecutive home losses – to improve to 10-14-2 overall and 7-11-1 in Hockey East. The Wildcats extended their unbeaten streak vs. the Friars to 16 games (14-0-2) and their home unbeaten streak in the series to 17 games (16-0-1). PC is now 10-13-2, 8-9-1.
DeSmith recorded double-digit saves all three periods with 10 in the first, 13 in the second and 14 in the third to surpass his previous best of 34 saves recorded Jan. 28 against Boston College. It was DeSmith's first win at Whittemore Center.
Eric Knodel (West Chester, Pa.) tallied a goal and an assist to match his personal best of two points and Nick Sorkin (Rockville, Md.) finished with two points to extend his point-scoring streak to seven games.
PC goalie Alex Beaudry was credited with 19 saves. Tim Schaller netted the Friars' goal.
UNH skated to a 3-0 lead in the first period on the strength of two power-play goals. Knodel gave the Wildcats an early 1-0 advantage at 1:30. Justin Agosta (East Meadow, N.Y.) kept the puck in the offensive zone at the right point and chipped the puck to Sorkin down low. Sorkin fed a pass across the low slot to the cutting Knodel, who deposited a shot into the open left side.
Four minutes later, Stevie Moses (Leominster, Mass.) saucered a pass from the defensive blue line between two PC defenders to Scott Pavelski (Plover, Wis.) at the opposite blue line. Pavelski advanced down the slot and his wrister was gloved by Beaudry.
Grayson Downing (Abbottsford, British Columbia) and Moses netted power-play goals at 10:57 and 14:19, respectively, to extend the margin to three goals. Knodel, from the high slot, slipped a pass to the left doorstep and John Henrion (Holden, Mass.) snapped a shot across the crease that clanged off the far post. Downing, positioned just off the right post, swept the puck from the crease into the cage. Moses scored his team- and Hockey East-leading 19th goal of the season on a backdoor play at the left post. Sorkin, with the pass through the crease from the right side, and Kevin Goumas (Long Beach, N.Y.) set up the tally.
The Friars generated one of their most dangerous scoring chances of the first period in the closing minute, when Stefan Demopoulos' screened shot from the right faceoff dot was trapped by DeSmith.
PC scored the only goal of the second period to pull within 3-1. From behind the net, Drew Brown moved the puck to Matt Bergland deep on the left side. Bergland's centering pass was one-timed into the net from the hashmarks by Schaller at 4:21.
The Friars threatened less than 30 seconds later when Rob Maloney carried the puck down the slot, shifted to the left and attempted to jam the puck inside the post but DeSmith, despite slightly losing his balance, blocked the shot aside.
With five minutes remaining in the third period, Casey Thrush (Easton, Md.) intercepted the puck at center ice and quickly moved the puck ahead to Matt Willows (Congers, N.Y.). Willows carried the puck down the slot and was forced wide left by Beaudry, who made the save.
PC pulled Beaudry in favor of an extra skater with 1:37 remaining. DeSmith twice denied Bergland in the next 37 seconds, then stood tall against a flurry of shots by Damian Cross, Myles Harvey and Derek Army. Andy Balysky, from behind the right post, threw the puck in front and it ricocheted off a UNH defenseman's skate under DeSmith, and the play was whistled dead before the puck trickled behind DeSmith across the goal line with 15 seconds remaining.
New Hampshire and Providence conclude the home-and-home series Feb. 4 (7 p.m.) at PC's Schneider Arena. UNH's next home game is Feb. 10 (7 p.m.) against Northeastern University in a game that will be televised live on WBIN-TV.