DURHAM, N.H.– Let’s talk about procrastination. We are all offenders at some point in our lives, especially around this time of year when Christmas comes around. Whether it’s the adrenaline rush, the need for feel the desperation or whatever, it’s as predictable as throwing a fish out on the rink after a UNH goal–it’s just always going to happen.
However, recently the UNH Wildcats have taken it to an extreme and have waited until the last period to put up goals to earn some points.
And you thought waiting until Christmas Eve to purchase presents was bad.
Saturday night’s 2-1 UNH victory against Merrimack was just one of the examples of UNH’s comeback abilities. After two periods of putting up only 18 shots on net and no goals, the Wildcats came back in the third with nine more shots– two of them ending up in the back of the net.
But, it was only after Merrimack’s Chris Barton netted one early in the third that the Wildcats came back with a vengeance and took the game. Barton took a pass from Stephane Da Costa, after UNH’s John Henrion was sent to the penalty box for hooking and went back door on UNH goaltender Matt DiGirolamo, four minutes into the final frame.
Three minutes later, Wildcats defenseman Damon Kipp found a feed from Paul Thompson who was in the slot, and Kipp fired from above the circle short side and put it in the top corner above net minder Joe Cannata.
Thompson took the initiative after that to seal the deal with almost the same exact play he set up for Kipp four minutes prior. Instead of him in the slot, it was Mike Sislo who set it up and passed to Thompson who netted it top shelf short side.
“That’s a good shot always to take I think short side,” Thompson said. “The goalie’s always kind of leaning the other way, so if you can put it in the right spot, it’s usually a good bet it’s going to go in.”
Despite taking the two points in a nail-biter, the Wildcats did only manage 27 shots on net. Saturday’s game marked the third time in the Wildcat’s season that they have come up with less than 30 shots on net and only the fifth time they have had less than 3 goals. The only other two less-than-30-shot games were back when they played against Miami, the first two games into their season where they had 26 and 27 shots respectively.
“[Merrimack] plays a disciplined– they will sit there and make you turn it over, and try to transition off their forecheck in the neutral zone and they do a good job with it,” UNH head coach Dick Umile said. “It’s tough, it’s tough to get through it. I give them credit. The way they play, you’re not going to get many shots.”
This is also one of the only games where the red hot UNH power play hasn’t netted a goal this season. The Wildcats are ranked second in Hockey East with a 19.7 success percentage on the power play, but tonight, UNH went 0-4 with the man advantage, and for the first three, they didn’t get a single shot to the net.
“They [Merrimack] do a good job getting in shot lanes,” Thompson said. “I think we had a few chances, but we couldn’t capitalize on it. We want to be strong on the power play and score at least one per night. They had a good penalty kill, but also we just didn’t capitalize or move the puck.”
With this win, No. 6 UNH moves up in Hockey East, tied with Boston College for second place. Still sitting in first place by two points is Boston University.