DURHAM, N.H. — Matt DiGirolamo stormed onto the scene in a big way last weekend. Last night, he showed he’s here to stay.
New Hampshire’s junior goalie, making his 11th career start, posted the first shutout of his career, helping the No. 9 Wildcats blank winless Massachusetts, 3-0.
UNH (5-1-2) was in control all game, thanks to three second period power-play goals and another stellar night from DiGirolamo.
“That was a nice shutout by Matt,” UNH coach Dick Umile said. “He’s coming up with saves at the right times for us.”
DiGirolamo was named Hockey East’s Defensive Player of the Week last weekend after limiting No. 4 Boston College and Mass.-Lowell to one goal apiece.
He one-upped that performance tonight, helping produce UNH’s first shutout in 14 games dating back to last season. The junior goaltender stopped all 19 shots he faced and posted what may be the save of the year.
The second period save came after defenseman Damon Kipp whiffed on a check, setting up a UMass two-on-one.
Peter DeAngelo looked to have a sure goal after receiving a crisp pass on a one-timer at the doorstep, but DiGirolamo flew across the crease, legs first, and turned away the golden Minutemen opportunity.
“You’ve always got to be ready to make the big save,” DiGirolamo said. “I saw him open up to pass and I just dove across. After we got up 3-0, I didn’t have to face to many tough shots.”
Phil DeSimone put home the prettiest goal of the night on a tic-tac-toe sequence that gave UNH the 3-0 lead. Brett Kostolansky sent a pass from the point to Paul Thompson at the right doorstep, who one-timed a pass to DeSimone at the left doorstep, who lit the lamp just over six minutes into the second.
“That’s as well as I’ve seen our power play move the puck,” Umile said. “That was just a great play. We always say either you have to move, or the puck has to move; the puck moved there.”
Senior captain Mike Sislo put home his fourth goal of the season on a slap shot from the left slot.
The shot came after Blake Kessel whiffed on a slap shot in front of the net, sending the puck sputtering to Sislo’s stick during the five-on-three advantage.
“Sometimes you need the break; on that play, we got the break,” Sislo said. “We were really clicking out there. We took advantage of the power play tonight.”
Damon Kipp buried a rebound to give the Wildcats a 2-0 lead.
All three UNH goals came off the power play in a span of five minutes.
“Our power play won the game for us in the second period,” Umile said. “Our special teams made plays tonight.”
UNH’s special teams came up big on the penalty kill too, allowing just two shots on six Minutemen power plays, and DiGirolamo was there for both of those en route to 19 saves.
Massachusetts freshman Jeff Teglia provided a bright spot for the Minutemen, stopping 35 of the 38 shots he faced, including a breakaway and multiple one-time chances.
“Teglia played really solid,” UMass coach Don ‘Toot’ Cahoon said. “He kept us in the game. He demonstrated a great ability to battle and compete. But UNH took us to school in the second period with their power play.”
The story was DigGirolamo who, earlier in the week, drew comparisons from Umile to former Wildcats great Kevin Regan.
“I feel pretty good,” the goaltender said. “It’s our team that’s playing well defensively. They’re getting sticks on sticks and stopping shots which makes me look good.”
The teams meet again tomorrow at 7 p.m.