AMHERST, Mass. — It wasn’t quite 8-1, but then again, it wasn’t much more even.
One night after blowing out the Massachusetts Minutemen 8-1 at home, the New Hampshire Wildcats nearly repeated the feat on the road, downing UMass 6-1 at the Mullins Center.
Jacob Micflikier, who notched a hat trick Friday, scored two goals, and freshman Brad Flaishan’s first collegiate goal was the clincher for the Wildcats, who improved to 20-7-3 (13-3-2 Hockey East), earning their ninth straight 20-win season.
“Obviously we were pleased with the outcome,” said UNH coach Dick Umile, who tied late Wildcat coach Charlie Holt for the all-time school victory record with his 347th win behind the bench. “We knew this was the type of game we’d be involved with, and we did a pretty good job taking the game away with good plays.”
The Minutemen fell to 11-18-2, and at 5-13-2 in the conference, look destined for a clash with either the Wildcats or Boston College on the road in the first round of the playoffs.
Although the final score wasn’t much better, the Minutemen showed a marked improvement over Friday night, when they looked disorganized at best, and lethargic at worst as UNH ran roughshod over them.
“As lopsided as the score ended up being, I thought we were a hockey team tonight,” said UMass coach Don Cahoon, who called his team “a disgrace to Hockey East” just 24 hours earlier. “We had plenty of opportunities, but our conversion was poor.”
Freshman Kevin Regan, who was named the Hockey East Rookie of the Week on Tuesday, made 34 stops in the victory, including an important point-blank save on UMass’ Zech Klann early in the first.
The Minutemen struck first, erasing at least some of the demons of Friday night’s massacre. P.J. Fenton was credited with a goal when Matt Burto pounced on a rebound off of a Craig MacDonald shot, and banked it off of Fenton and in with 7:18 to go.
UMass continued to play well throughout the period, until a miscue in the crease led to a tie game. Waidlich made an initial save, but the puck fell under him and Mike Radja swooped in, poking it into over the line with 2:41 to go in the period.
The second period resembled the Friday night blowout a little more, as the Wildcats opened up for three goals to take a convincing lead.
Flaishans started things up for the visitors, scoring his first career goal with a long wrist shot that beat Waidlich high, making it 2-1 UNH with the eventual game-winner.
What came next was either a splendid goal, or a horrifying mistake, depending on one’s allegiance.
Jacob Micflikier took a pass from Justin Aikins at center ice, and went into the offensive zone a few steps ahead of the UMass defense. Waidlich, apparently sensing the chance for a harmless pokeaway, met Micflikier a few feet inside the blue line, and tried to sweep the puck away.
He missed, although he sent Micflikier to the ice, but the crafty forward backhanded the puck from his stomach into the waiting net, and the Wildcats had a 3-1 lead 2:53 into the second period.
“I was a pretty surprised [to see Waidlich out so far],” Micflikier said. “I was thinking I was going to be on a breakaway, with no defensemen to catch me, and all of a sudden I had an open net.”
Brett Hemingway added another goal for UNH, thanks to a wonderful play by Sean Collins, who carried the puck into the zone. Collins was checked, but managed to drop a pass back to Hemingway in the slot, where the sophomore buried a one-timer past Waidlich’s right leg with 6:04 to go in the middle frame.
The Wildcats weren’t quite done, and tacked on two more goals in the third. The first one came from Micflikier, who eluded UMass’ Dusty Demianiuk in the right wing corner, went out in front of Waidlich, and slipped it through the five-hole to make it 5-1 with 10:40 remaining.
Josh Ciocco finished things off, just 39 seconds after Waidlich was replaced by freshman Jamie Gilbert. Flaishans again figured in the scoring, taking a hard shot from inside the blue line that Ciocco tipped past Gilbert with 5:17 to go.