DURHAM, N.H. — In a matchup between bitter rivals, the University of New Hampshire Wildcats beat the University of Maine Black Bears, 5-2, before a sold out crowd at the Whittemore Center Arena in Durham, N.H. Sophomore forward Stevie Moses led the Wildcats with two tallies in a three goal second period.
Well take the two points; I thought we played well for two periods, but I was disappointed with the way we played in the third, UNH head coach Dick Umile said.
New Hampshire blew the game open with three goals in the second, all from the teams third line of junior Paul Thompson and sophomores Mike Borisenok and Stevie Moses, to take a commanding 4-1 lead into the third.
Its always good to get a few quick goals and it was nice to get our line going, Moses said. People say this is a rebuilding year for us, but we feel very confident with the team we have.
Moses scored at 3:31 and again at 15:41, each with assists from Thompson and Borisenok, on seeing-eye shots that found their way through multiple bodies in front of the net and past Sirman. Borisenok then finished the second period scoring with a power-play tally at 18:13 by slapping home a juicy rebound for an easy goal after a shot from the right point by defenseman Damon Kipp.
They [Thompson, Moses and Borisenok] put the puck in the net, Umile said. It was good for Moses to come out and get some goals for us; we dont expect Peter LeBlanc and Bobby Butler to do it every night.
Despite a rowdy crowd for New Hampshires annual White Out the Whitt night, the Wildcats came out a little sluggish and Maine was able to capitalize on an early power play to take a 1-0 at 9:23. The Black Bears junior captain Tanner House fired a shot from the right circle past UNH goaltender Brian Fosters left side with only five seconds remaining in a UNH crosschecking penalty to sophomore defenseman Blake Kessel.
UNH woke up quickly after Maines opening goal though, as junior fourth-liner Greg Manz struck back only 17 seconds later to tie the game at one. Manz banked a shot off of Maine goalie Shawn Sirmans legs from behind the net for his first goal of the season.
Its definitely a big weekend for the team, Kessel said. We felt a little pressure after stumbling out of the blocks but it feels really good to get this kind of start in Hockey East play.
Kessel, who had only 13 points in all of the 2008-2009 season, already has 10 points this year after recording an assist on the Wildcats first goal and adding an empty-netter in the final minute.
Over the summer I definitely improved, he said. I was disappointed with last year, to be honest, but this year Ive felt the pressure to step up with [former UNH defenseman Kevin] Kapstead gone and I think Ive done that.
Near the end of the first period, UNH looked like they had taken a 2-1 lead after senior captain Bobby Butler backhanded a shot past Sirman, but the goal was called off as the net was knocked off its moorings by Maine defenseman Ryan Hegarty. Hegarty subsequently received a delay-of-game penalty, but the Wildcats were unable to score on the power play.
UNH improves their record to 2-2-1 (2-0-0 in Hockey East) on the season, while Maine drops their fourth straight road game to open the season at 1-5-0 (1-2-0).
Were not feeling very good, not off to a good start obviously, Whitehead said. We have enough skill, enough team speed, enough hockey sense; we just need to play better defensively.
The Wildcats and Black Bears play a couple of ranked opponents next weekend, as New Hampshire travels to Madison, Wis. for a pair of non-conference games against the No. 17 Badgers on Oct. 30 and 31, and Maine hosts No. 7 Vermont at home on Friday, Oct. 30.