DURHAM, N.H. – Casey DeSmith (Rochester, N.H.) made 32 saves to lift the University of New Hampshire men's ice hockey team to Friday night's 3-2 Hockey East victory against 20th-ranked University of Maine at the Whittemore Center.
UNH improved to 14-12-1 overall and 6-5-0 in Hockey East while Maine fell to 11-9-3, 5-4-2.
DeSmith recorded 15 saves in the first period and 11 in the third as part of his 32-save effort. Tyler Kelleher (Longmeadow, Mass.) matched his career high of two assists. Nick Sorkin (Rockville, Md.), Eric Knodel (West Chester, Pa.) and Jay Camper (Rocky River, Ohio) netted the Wildcats' goals – one each period.
Maine goalie Martin Ouellette made 10 of his 24 saves in the third period. Will Merchant potted the Black Bears' first-period goal and Mark Anthoine netted an extra-attacker goal with 55 seconds left.
The teams skated to a 1-1 tie through the first period of play. The Wildcats quickly took a 1-0 lead with a goal 47 seconds into the game. Matt Willows (Congers, N.Y.) kept the puck in the offensive zone by winning the battle along the boards at the right point, and then snapped a pass to Sorkin in the slot. Sorkin changed speed as he dangled across the slot toward the left post and tucked a low shot into the net.
Maine leveled the score, 1-1, at 2:56. Josh Henke's initial shot from the left point was blocked by a UNH skater, but Merchant corralled the puck in the slot and beat DeSmith. Bill Norman was also credited with an assist.
New Hampshire regained the lead, 2-1, at 7:23 of the second stanza when Knodel's screened shot from the left point sailed inside the right post. Brett Pesce (Tarrytown, N.Y.), with the crossing pass from the right point, and Kelleher set up the tally.
In the 16th minute, Casey Thrush (Easton, Md.) gained speed through the neutral zone and side-stepped a defender to continue down the slot before firing a shot that ricocheted off the left post. Ouellette covered the rebound in the crease.
UNH carried a 2-1 lead into the second intermission despite being outshot 22-16.
The Wildcats nearly struck again two minutes into the third period when Camper's shot from the left circle caromed off Ouellette's right shoulder and trickled wide of the left post. Camper would not be denied moments later, however, as he scored his first goal of the season at 2:22 to extend the lead to 3-1. Kelleher and Thrush set up what proved to be the game-winning goal.
In the fifth minute, UNH's Matias Cleland (Longmont, Colo.) executed a diagonal slap-pass from the left point to Dan Correale (Prince George, British Columbia), but Ouellette slid across the crease to make the save.
The 'Cats called time out at 13:36 with a faceoff in the defensive zone and 45 seconds remaining in a 4-on-4. One minute later, Jon Swavely's shot from the high slot was gloved by DeSmith.
The Black Bears pulled Ouellette in favor on an extra skater with 1:25 to play and trimmed the deficit to 3-2 at 19:05. Bill Norman initiated the scoring sequence when his pass from the left half-boards careened off the end boards to Swavely deep on the left wing. His centering pass to the low slot was banged into the cage by Anthoine.
Maine continued with Ouellette on the bench and Ben Hutton's shot with 15 seconds to play was blocked in front by Pesce. Kevin Goumas (Long Beach, N.Y.), from the left half-boards in the defensive zone, chipped the puck the length of the ice and it slid just wide of the left post. The play went for icing with 0.8 seconds on the clock. Goumas won the ensuing faceoff to secure the victory.
UNH and Maine conclude the two-game series Jan. 25 (7 p.m.) at Alfond Arena. The game is televised on FOX College Sports and Maine's WFVX Fox 22. The Wildcats then begin a five-game homestand Jan. 31 (7:30 p.m.) against the University of Notre Dame.