DURHAM, N.H. — University of New Hampshire freshman Dalton Speelman scored the first two goals of his collegiate career and the Wildcats picked up their first win of the season by beating conference foe Northeastern, 4-2, at the Whittemore Center in Durham, N.H. It was the first Hockey East game for both teams.
We needed a win, UNH head coach Dick Umile said. I thought tonight we were much better defensively as a team. [Northeastern] always plays a tough game against us and I thought our team responded well.
The score was close by the end after two third period goals by Northeastern forward Wade MacLeod, but Huskies head coach Greg Cronin was quick to dispel any thoughts that it was actually a close game.
Despite the score, we got dominated in most aspects of the game, Cronin said. I dont know what happened; that was an extremely lethargic performance.
Honestly, we looked great in the first 10 minutes of the game and then it just went away. I dont have an answer.
Both teams fought hard and traded chances in the first period, but New Hampshire was able to outshoot the Huskies, 12-6, and finished the period with a 1-0 lead. UNH and Northeastern each had a few power-play chances early in the first, but neither was able to capitalize on the man-advantage.
Speelman picked up his first collegiate goal after sophomore defenseman Blake Kessel ripped a shot from the left point that made its way through traffic and Speelman backhanded the puck past Northeastern goalie Chris Rawlings at 14:41.
It felt really relieving actually, Speelman said about his first goal. Putting the puck in right in front of the fans was pretty nice.
Speelman, who did not see much ice time in the Wildcats first three games, played on the first line with senior co-captains Peter LeBlanc and Bobby Butler.
We put him [Speelman] on that line and that looked great tonight, Umile said. Hes quick and he has great composure with the puck. Hes a smart hockey player. Hes earned everything hes got.
Speelman scored his second goal only 24 seconds into the second period by poking another rebound past Rawlings after a scramble in front of the net. Butler notched his team-leading fourth goal of the year minutes later on the power play, with a one-timer from a near impossible angle along the goal line at 5:55 to give UNH a commanding 3-0 lead.
They dont ask how, they ask how many, Butler joked about his fluky goal on the power play. I think it deflected off a skate and then off his [Rawlings] butt. That [shot] was meant for Pete [LeBlanc] at the back door.
Northeastern had multiple opportunities throughout the game to strike back, but the Huskies could only capitalize on one of their seven power-play chances and were outshot 34-16 in the game.
The Huskies lack of control in the neutral zone led to many turnovers and allowed UNH to break up the rush and safely hold their lead.
They pressured us when they felt they had a chance to disrupt the flow, Cronin said. They did a good job blocking shots and we didnt get too many chances around their net.
UNH bumps their overall record up to 1-2-1 (1-0-0 in Hockey East) on the season, while the Huskies fall to 2-2-0 (0-1-0).
It felt good to get a big win, Butler said. Well start rolling from here and were excited for tomorrow.
On Saturday, the Wildcats will host their biggest rival, the University of Maine Black Bears, and the Huskies will travel to Lowell to face off against the University of Massachusetts River Hawks. Both games start at 7 p.m.