DURHAM, N.H. — The fourth line of Johnny Rogers, Sean Austin and Jeff Haydar led the way as the New Hampshire Wildcats defeated the Northeastern Huskies, 4-1, on Friday night at the Whittemore Center.
“Overall I’m not only pleased with the fact that we won 4-1,” said New Hampshire head coach Dick Umile, “but also, after playing a tough second period, giving up a goal and a couple of penalties, the guys really settled down. I really like the way they played. It was a good hockey game.
New Hampshire (16-4-5, 7-2-4 Hockey East) carried the play for most of the first period, outshooting Northeastern, 13-6. But it was Northeastern with the first great chance of the game. The Huskies’ Graig Mischler had an opening to goalie Ty Conklin’s left, but hit the post.
The Wildcats got on the board at 6:13 of the first period on Rogers’ fifth goal of the season. Austin dumped the puck along the left-wing boards to Haydar behind the net. Haydar immediately found Rogers on the doorstep to Mike Gilhooly’s right, and Rogers flipped it into the net short side for the 1-0 lead.
Mischler again had a golden chance just over eight minutes in when he carried the puck out from behind Conklin’s glove side, faked once, got Conklin to go down, and then shot over the crossbar.
New Hampshire doubled its lead at 14:57 of the opening period. Garrett Stafford’s home run pass up the right wing sideboards found a streaking David Busch who got behind the defense, and fired a shot from the faceoff circle that beat Gilhooly through the five hole. Busch’s seventh of the season upped the lead to 2-0.
Northeastern (8-10-3, 3-7-3) showed signs of life in the second period with good forechecking and better defense, as it outshot the Wildcats 11-6.
The hard work paid off at 10:59 when Chris Lynch notched his 11th goal of the season to cut the lead in half. After aggressive forechecking by Scott Selig and Trevor Reschny, Lynch picked up the puck behind the net, and beat Conklin to the glove side with a wraparound to make it 2-1.
New Hampshire’s Mark White scored his first goal of the season on the power play at 16:57 to give the Wildcats another two-goal cushion. Off a faceoff, White wristed a shot from the point through a screen that beat Gilhooly to the glove side. The Wildcats carried the 3-1 lead into the second intermission.
“Josh Prudden had a great draw and won it back,” said White. “In that situation, I’m just trying to get the puck to the net. Our guys were crashing the net pretty hard, and I don’t think the goalie even saw it.”
The third period started with each team down a man. Wildcat Lanny Gare was whistled for a slashing major just eight seconds in, and New Hampshire had to kill off a five-minute penalty.
Despite having a man advantage, the Huskies managed only one shot on Conklin the entire five minutes thanks to tenacious penalty killing led by Rogers and Busch.
“They were terrific,” Umile said. “We were hoping to get through the 4-on-3, that was the key part of it. I thought we did a real good job on the penalty kill tonight, then, and in the second period.”
The Wildcats carried the momentum from the penalty until the final buzzer.
Austin picked up his third tally of the season at 10:08. Johnny Rogers picked off a clearing pass and fed Austin who fired a shot from the top of the faceoff circle to Gilhooly’s right. The puck found the back of the net closing out the scoring at 4-1.
“I thought UNH played a very good game,” said Northeastern head coach Bruce Crowder. “I don’t think we played well enough to win. You can’t give up two quick goals, especially with Conklin in the net, and try to come back from that; and especially the way our offense has been the last two or three games.
“A lot of teams seem to be going through the same problem [of not scoring goals], but we seem to be doing it at a bad time, and we’ll just have to keep working and try to correct it.”
“I thought we played a real solid game,” said White. “We had a couple of lapses in the second period, but Northeastern’s a real gritty team and I thought we really matched that tonight. We’ll go down to Northeastern tomorrow night and they’re going to be even grittier in that small rink. We’re real excited to go down there and play them in that atmosphere.”
“The guys are playing well,” said Umile. “It’s good consistent goaltending, and our defense stepped up tonight, and in every time they came into our zone, we were into people, and they didn’t get too many shots. The way the team played tonight defensively was real strong. We’ll need to do that again tomorrow down there.”
The two teams face off in a rematch tomorrow night at Matthews Arena. The game is rumored to be a sellout.