DURHAM, N.H. – It’s the classic story of redemption.
After a less-than-inspiring performance against St. Lawrence on Sunday where the Wildcats forfeited two points in a 2-1 loss, there was a hunger and desire for a win.
And a proverbial fire lit from underneath.
This is something that has been an issue for the Wildcats in recent history. Last year, they started the new year off in a similar fashion, falling on their faces dramatically against Cornell, only to come back and pull of a 4-0-1 record in their next five games, most appropriately starting with UMass-Lowell.
UNH defenseman Blake Kessel commented earlier in the week that the St. Lawrence game kind of served as a wake up call for the team who had become accustomed to falling behind but coming out with a win late in the game.
“We haven’t played our best games coming off break, but then once we get back after that weekend going on the next one, we start turning it on here, so hopefully that’s a wake up call,” Kessel said on Wednesday. “Obviously you don’t want to lose any games but it could be good for us to get that wake up call that no matter who it is or what day it is, we have to play that full 60 minutes and come out hard no matter who we have to cross the ice with. We can take it as a lesson and move on.”
Fair to say, lesson learned.
Perhaps the biggest improvement the Wildcats showcased was on the power play. UNH went a staggering 0-for-6 against St. Lawrence on Sunday, but managed two extra-man goals on five opportunities Friday night including one of Paul Thompson’s three goals on the night–a “patient pass play” from Phil DeSimone that hit the tape of Thompson’s stick in into the net.
“We spent all week at practice working on the power play and it really clicked tonight,” UNH defenseman Brett Kostolansky said. “Everyone was moving the puck well, passes were getting through and everyone was in the right spot. It was good.”
Thompson added two other goals for the hat trick (his second of the season), including a tipped one in the first period, and an empty netter in the third. Thompson’s three-goal performance puts him in second place behind BC’s Cam Atkinson in Hockey East for goals scored, and first in total points (14-15-29).
“I think our lines playing well and I think our team so far has had good success,” Thompson said. “Tonight I was a little bit lucky, obviously to get the empty netter and the tip that I guess they gave me, but right now we are all feeling good and it’s good to get back on a winning track and start things over after last week.”
While getting back to winning ways felt like “the norm” for the Wildcats, a bit of an oddity also struck them on Friday. They put up only 24 shots on goal which is the least amount they have recorded in a single game all season.
But, with five goals on 24 shots, Thompson wasn’t about to complain.
“If we score four or five goals a night and we’re getting more quality scoring chances, we’re happy,” Thompson said. “Last week we were producing some chances but our finish wasn’t there and tonight it was a little bit better than last week, so we’re happy with that also.”
With that win, the Wildcats advance their home conference unbeaten streak to 26 games. The last time they lost to a conference team at home was almost two years ago on Jan. 24, 2009 against BU. Since then, they hold a 19-0-7 record.
UNH hopped on the bus directly after the game and headed to Amherst where they will take on UMass tomorrow night at the Mullins Center.