DURHAM, N.H.– There’s a reason why UNH has been giving the name “Comeback ‘Cats” in the past, and it’s no news to anyone, but they continually stun the crowd with just how frequently they live up to that nickname, including tonight’s 4-3 OT victory.
Just a minute into the second period after Providence scored its third goal, there was little reason to think UNH could come back from a 3-0 deficit with the way they were playing. The Friars were keeping UNH at bay in every aspect of the game, and for a while, people were chocking up this game as one of the worst losses of the season.
And if it wasn’t for the last-minute heroics — yet again — it very well could have been.
Going into the third period, UNH was down 3-1 and only started picking up the pace late in the second period. But, a quick Wildcat goal in the first three minutes of the third from Nick Sorkin and a later one from Jeff Silengo evened up the game and brought what should have been an easy tally for Providence, into overtime.
“I’m disgusted, I’m disgusted,“ Providence coach Tim Army said. “We give up two games in overtime in the past two weekends. Not good enough. We are trying to make the playoffs, we have to come back with a win. We have to get it done, we don’t get it done.”
The way the goal was scored in overtime was no relief for Army either. A turnover in the neutral zone, a puck dumped in, up to UNH defenseman Blake Kessel who passed it to Mike Sislo who fired a shot wide of the net. The shot ended up hitting teammate Paul Thompson in the stomach and into the net to give the Wildcats the victory.
“I had a few one-timers in that area tonight and for some reason I was kind of all over the place with my shot and wasn’t getting it on net,” UNH captain Mike Sislo said. “Finally, one of our players was there to deflect it in–probably knew I was going to miss, so he stood there.”
While the Wildcats can stomach this win, despite not playing as well as they’d hoped, it’s becoming a recurring habit of theirs to come back late in the game to sneak a victory from their opponents, in a game where perhaps they had no business taking.
Before break UNH was down 3-1 to the Maine Black Bears up in Orono going into the third period. They did the same exact thing, had a couple freshmen score to bring it to overtime, and win it late in the extra frame. Being outplayed the entire game only to have a stellar third period has become a specialty for the Wildcats.
“We didn’t start off playing our best hockey but I think it showed a lot about our team to come back and not give up because we could have easily,” UNH forward Paul Thompson said. “But I think it just showed a good character win for us tonight and just always battling back. We got some greasy goals out there, but it just from hard work and going to the net and if you throw the puck on net good things are going to happen.”
The Wildcats managed to keep their home winning streak alive against Hockey East opponents, extending it to 27 games. The last time they lost was Jan. 24 against Boston University. Ironically enough, UNH will play host to the Terriers tomorrow night.
Mike Sislo acknowledged that it wasn’t the picture perfect game for his team, but the two points could prove to be huge going into the later parts of the season.
“BU’s a good team, it’s going to be a good game tomorrow,” Sislo said. “We are going to have to definitely come out stronger in the first period and keep it going.”