DURHAM, N.H. — Sean Collins scored two goals and had an assist while senior classmate Preston Callander added a goal and two assists to lead No. 7 New Hampshire past Massachusetts 4-0 Thursday evening in Hockey East action at the Whittemore Center.
“I was really pleased with our effort tonight, I just like the way we played from start to finish,” said New Hampshire head coach Dick Umile. “I told the team that we beat a good team; (Massachusetts is) tough, they make you work for it, they forecheck, and they take the puck away from you. We handled the puck well, we played smart, and we executed when we had our chances.”
It was the first time that the two teams met on the ice since UMass knocked UNH out of the Hockey East tournament on March 19 in the semifinals at the FleetCenter in Boston, 5-2. The Wildcats ran their record at the Whitt to an unblemished 9-0-0 so far this season, a building in which the Minutemen have only won once.
Missed connections were the story of the first period for the Wildcats, as they generated opportunities throughout the period, but failed to come up with any points. UNH outgunned UMass on the shot chart 11-4, but a bright spot for the Minutemen appeared on the penalty kill. Near the bottom of the percentage range in Hockey East play, UMass looked strong during its two kills.
The second period saw more matched play between the two squads. As the period progressed, it looked like the two teams would skate into the second intermission still scoreless, but fortune began to favor the Wildcats.
Craig Switzer had the best look of the game at 18:37. Taking a great feed from Sean Collins across the slot down low, Switzer one-timed the puck at an open net, as Gabe Winer was out of position on the right side of the crease, but the puck found more metal than anything else, ringing off the post and into the corner.
Penalty trouble finally caught up with the Minutemen late in the period, as Garrett Summerfield was whistled for hooking at 19:06. The Wildcats cashed in only a few seconds later with Jacob Micflikier bringing the crowd to life.
Driving to the net from the top of the right circle, Micflikier fought off a defender the whole way, jamming his shot low into the pads of Winer. Winer made the save, but Micflikier stuck with the puck, putting it across the goal line as he skated across the crease at 19:37.
Collins tallied the first of his two goals in the contest early on in the third period. Collecting a Daniel Winnik rebound from the left side low, Collins lifted the puck into the net at 4:18 to make it 2-0 Wildcats.
New Hampshire made it 3-0 at 13:22 of the third while on a 4-on-3 power play. Puck movement in the Minutemen zone found a wide-open Collins on the right faceoff dot, and he made the most of his opportunity, beating Winer cleanly.
Callander put his name on the scoresheet at 18:59 of the third. Skating across the top of the slot from right to left, Callander rifled a shot over the glove of Winer, getting enough of the crossbar to direct the puck into the net.
“We had a strategy coming into tonight’s game, that we had used against (New Hampshire) before, that we were going to try and take some ice away from them,” commented Don Cahoon. “We tried to possess the puck as best we could, with the thought being that if we could deny them puck possession, and have a little bit of puck possession ourselves, regardless of where it was on the ice, that it would give us a better chance to limit great scoring chances.
“That’s what UNH is all about. They are very proficient at scoring goals when given too many chances.”
Jeff Pietrasiak saw light work between the pipes for the Wildcats, making 17 saves en route to his first career shutout, while Winer stopped 23 shots. UNH finished the evening 2-for-6 on the power play, while the Minutemen were scoreless on five chances.
The Minutemen may be without the services of sophomore Matt Anderson for a while, after he was escorted off the ice midway through the third period after a collision at neutral ice. Cahoon discussed the nature of the injury to Anderson’s lower body, and his prognosis.
“I don’t want to be the alarmist right now, but what I have for preliminary information isn’t good. Until I get confirmation from our medical people, I won’t say exactly, but it doesn’t look good. It may be something that might keep him out for a while, if not the season.”
Saturday New Hampshire (11-3-2, 6-1-1 HE) hosts the U.S. Under-18 team in an exhibition scheduled for a 2 p.m. start, while the Minutemen (7-10-1, 4-5-1 HE) host Sacred Heart in a non-conference matchup slated for 7 p.m.