DURHAM, N.H. — Senior Josh Prudden scored two goals and senior linemate Colin Hemingway added two assists, as the New Hampshire Wildcats skated past St. Francis Xavier, 5-1, in a penalty-marred exhibition game at the Whittemore Center.
A total of 30 penalties (10 in each period) added up to over an hour’s worth of sin-bin time in the contest. Four of the Five Wildcat goals came on the power play.
“I’m pleased overall. The game was a little sloppy, but the guys moved the puck well,” said UNH head coach Dick Umile. “You want to get that stuff out of the way in the first game, and I think we did that as the game wore on.”
For the second year in a row, St. Francis Xavier shocked Massachusetts, beating the Minutemen on Friday, 3-2, in Amherst. But the team from Antigonish, Nova Scotia, was no match for the Wildcats, who outshot them 20-3 in the first period, 45-12 for the game.
“You have to expect that when you play an exhibition game,” said Hemingway regarding the game’s chippiness. “You just want to skate away in those situations. We have a lot more to lose than those guys.”
UNH took the play to St. Francis Xavier right from the drop of the puck. Senior Jim Abbott had two good scoring chances early on, one off a nice bit of stickhandling by sophomore defenseman Tyson Teplitsky. The Man from Mars (Pa., that is) was thwarted on both attempts, however.
After Abbott was taken down at the 5:14 mark of the first period, however, he made them pay by slapping home a shot from just inside the blue line that squeaked by the left post and past junior goaltender Dwayne Bateman to give UNH a 1-0 lead.
Just 35 seconds later, senior Lanny Gare made a picture perfect pass to defenseman Robbie Barker at the point. The sophomore from Concord, N.H. sent a rocket past Bateman and just like that it was 2-0 UNH.
“It felt really good to get it (the goal) out of my system,” said Barker. “Gare was able to find me. I was able to put it home,” he said.
Hemingway again made a pretty set up for a score, this time off the stick of Prudden at 12:07 of the first period to make it 3-0 in favor of the home team.
It looked at that point as though St. Francis Xavier was going to run themselves right into the penalty box and right out of the game. After the third UNH goal, St. Francis Xavier — which didn’t register a shot on goal until the 9:36 mark — called a timeout. That move seemed to stem the tide, as the period ended with UNH on top, 3-0.
In the third period, UNH recorded its lone even strength goal of the game, when Prudden took a pass from linemate Gare and potted his second goal of the night. Teplitsky, who will undoubtedly see lots of ice time the first half of the season while all-conference defenseman Garrett Stafford sits out due to academic ineligibility, finished off the scoring by recording a power play goal at 3:56.
If tonight’s game is any indication of things to come, UNH will be in good standing to defend last year’s achievement of having the best power play in Hockey East.
“We went out at noon time today to work on it [the power play],” said Umile. “I thought Robbie [Barker] did a good job at the point.”
Said Hemingway, “There’s a couple things that we have to work on. But we popped in a few early, and that was the difference in the game.”
Despite the penalties, Umile liked what he saw from his squad.
“This was a good warm up. The guys did a pretty good job overall. I was pleased.”
UNH begins its 76th season of play next Saturday when the Wildcats travel to Burlington, Vt. to battle the Catamounts.