BURLINGTON, Vt. – Austin Block (Thousand Oaks, Calif.) netted a pair of goals to lift the fifth-ranked University of New Hampshire men's hockey team to Friday night's 4-3 win over the University of Vermont at Gutterson Fieldhouse in Hockey East action.
UNH improves to 17-8-4 with a 12-7-3 mark in Hockey East. Vermont is now 10-15-4 overall, 7-11-4 HEA. The Wildcats are guaranteed the series win with UVM by virtue of a 4-0 win in Durham on Nov. 10. New Hampshire moves into a first place tie with idle Merrimack College with the win.
The Wildcats went 3-for-8 on the power play marking the first time since Dec. 5, 2010 the team had three power play goals in a game. UNH did so once again against Vermont a 5-1 win at the Whittemore Center. In addition to Block, Trevor van Riemsdyk (Middletown, N.J.) dished out three assists, while Kevin Goumas (Long Beach, N.Y.) notched a pair of helpers for the Wildcats.
UVM got on the board just 1:52 into the first period. Matt White chipped the puck around a UNH defender at the top of the blue line setting up a 2-on-1 in the zone and fired a puck that that was saved but bounced out to a crashing H.T. Lenz for a quick wrister on the open half of the net. Robert Polesello also assisted on the game's first goal. The Wildcats got the equalizer late in the first period as Block scored from the right slot on the rebound of a van Riemsdyk (Middletown, N.J.) shot. Grayson Downing (Abbottsford, British Columbia) also assisted on the tally. New Hampshire outshot Vermont 4-2 for the period.
UNH took a two-goal lead with a pair of power play goals in the second period. The first came as Dalton Speelman (San Jose, Calif.) redirected a John Henrion (Holden, Mass.) shot past UVM netminder Brody Hoffman. Goumas found Henrion at the point and was credit with an assist on the goal at 8:43 of the second. Block got his second of the game on the power play by making a nifty one-on-one play past a Vermont defender than snapped off a wrister that beat Hoffman at 16:23 of the second. van Riemsdyk and Eric Knodel (West Chester, Pa.) started the transition sequence in the defensive zone and were credited with helpers on the goal.
Vermont cut UNH's lead in half with a goal just 55 seconds into the third period. Nick Bruneteau blocked a pass at the top of the blueline to setup a 3-on-1. He carried the puck in and patiently waited for an opening for the goal, which made it 3-2. UNH regained its two-goal lead as Matt Willows (Congers, N.Y.) punched in a power play goal from the left goal mouth. Nifty tic-tac-toe passing from van Riemsdyk and Goumas setup the tally at 5:18 of the third. New Hampshire's held a 4-2 lead until UVM cut it to 4-3 at the 11-minute mark of the third. Jonathan Turk scored with assists from Bruneteau. The Catamounts could not net the equalizer in the final nine minutes including over a minute of empty-net play. Vermont held a 10-5 shot advantage for the third, but UNH outshot the Catamounts 23-13 for the game.
Casey DeSmith (Rochester, N.H.) stopped 11 shots including eight in the third period to improve to 16-6-4 on the season. Hoffman stopped 19 shots, but falls to 10-15-4 on the season.
In addition to UNH's 3-for-8 effort on the power play, the Wildcats killed off all three Vermont power plays in the game.
The Wildcats and Catamounts conclude the two-game series Saturday afternoon. Puck drops at 4 p.m. at Gutterson Fieldhouse with TV coverage on CBS Sports. UNH's next home game is Friday, March 1 (7 p.m.) against UMass. The game will be broadcast live on WBIN-TV and FOX College Sports Atlantic. For tickets, visit www.unhwildcats.com or call (603) 862-4000, extension 5.