NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. – Senior forward Kevin Goumas (Long Beach, N.Y.) tallied four points on the night while netminder Casey DeSmith (Rochester, N.H.) made 49 saves at the University of New Hampshire men's hockey team earned a 5-2 win at Merrimack College Saturday night.
The win gives the Wildcats the fourth seed in the upcoming Hockey East tournament and will host fifth-seeded Northeastern in the quarterfinals, beginning March 14. UNH improved to 19-16-1 overall and to 11-9-0 in league play. The Warriors fall to 8-21-3 overall and to 3-15-2 in conference action.
Goumas' last assist of the game marked the 100th of his career, becoming just the 16th player in program history to accomplish the feat and the first since Darren Haydar back in 2001-02
New Hampshire built its momentum in the second period as they recorded three goals in the frame. With 7:39 left on the game clock in the second period, Pesce recorded his second goal of the weekend on a power play with a one-time rocket from just inside the blueline. Sorkin started the play as he dove for the puck behind the Merrimack net to push the puck forward to Kevin Goumas (Long Beach, N.Y.). Goumas played a perfect pass to the line of Pesce who ripped a shot that found the back of the net.
Just seven seconds later, Speelman found the back of the net on a power play as he came flying down the ice to register his second goal of the weekend. Grayson Downing (Abbottsford, British Columbia) initiated the sequence as he won the faceoff after Pesce's goal. The puck went back to Eric Knodel (West Chester, Pa.) who played the puck up along the boards to Speelman. Speelman carried the puck in a buried a top-shelf shot past Merrimack goaltender Sam Marotta.
With the momentum rolling for UNH, Sorkin tallied his second point of the night with 39 seconds left in the second period as he gave the Wildcats a 3-1 advantage. Goumas, who registered his 99th career assist on the play, slid the puck up ice to Matt Willows (Congers, N.Y.) in the neutral zone. Willows carried the puck into the Warrior zone and played a pass over to Sorkin who found the back of the net for the 3-2 lead.
Merrimack's Quinn Gould got the Warriors on the board first at the 11:14 mark of the opening period with a power play goal. Brendan Ellis started the play as he found Mike Collins in front of the net. Collins' initial shot was saved by UNH netminder Casey DeSmith (Rochester, N.H.), but Gould's rebound attempt found the back of the net for the goal.
DeSmith remained poised in net as he made 19 saves on the 20 shots he faced in the period. On the first shot he saw in the frame, DeSmith made a sprawling glove save on a point-blank attempt by Dan Kolomatis. After one period of play, UNH trailed Merrimack, 1-0.
DeSmith remained a wall in goal for the Wildcats as he brought his two-period total to 35 saves on 36 shots faced.
Merrimack brought the score to 3-2 at 7:41 of the third period with a goal by Clayton Jardine. The goal came when Ben Bahe dished a pass to Hampus Gustafsson in front of the net. Gustafsson put a shot on net that was saved, by Jardine poked the puck into the back of the net.
At the 13:03 mark, Goumas notched his third point of the night on a goal to regain a two-goal lead for the Wildcats. Pesce flung the puck on net and Marotta made the save. Downing poked the puck over to Goumas who jammed it into the net for the tally. UNH's fifth goal came during empty net play. Willows sent the puck out of the Wildcat zone up to Goumas. Goumas skated down ice and slid the puck over to Sorkin who lit the lamp.
DeSmith's 49 save performance earned him his 17th win of the season and improves his record to 17-14-0. The 49 saves was just one shy of his career high mark of 50, set against Boston University (Mar. 11, 2012). Marotta received the loss for the Warriors as he made 16 saves on 20 shots faced. His record falls to 1-8-0.
New Hampshire went 1-for-4 on the power play while the Warriors were 1-for-5 with the advantage.
Season ticket holders will have until Wednesday, March 5, to purchase their same seats for the quarterfinal round. Tickets for the general public go onsale on Wednesday at 10 a.m. Pricing for the tickets is as follows:
$18 for season ticket holders (all seats)
$24 for general public (chairback seats)
$19 for general public (end zone bench seats)
$12 for groups (20+) (end zone bench seats)
For more information on the upcoming playoffs, visit www.UNHWildcats.com.