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College Hockey:
New Hampshire doubles Acadia with Downing, Goumas leading the way

— New Hampshire picked up a 6-3 exhibition win over Acadia Saturday night, thanks to four goals in the second period.

After the Wildcats took a 3-0 lead late in the second period, Acadia’s Scott Trask put a shot past UNH goaltender Casey DeSmith to bring the Axemen within two goals. Shortly after, the Axemen went on the power play and produced a pair of chances.

The Wildcats killed off the man-advantage and put an end to Acadia’s momentum by adding two more goals with less than a minute to play in the period to take a 5-1 lead.

New Hampshire got on the board first midway through the opening period on the strength of stellar play from Grayson Downing and Kevin Goumas.

Goumas picked up where he left off last season with a highlight-reel set-up. On the power play, the Wildcats forced a turnover in the neutral zone leading to a two-on-one. Goumas carried the puck to the goal mouth where he deked the defender and shuffled a pass through the crease. Downing, hustling on Goumas’s left, buried the pass for the 1-0 lead.

“He made a great play,” Downing said. “I guess I should expect that from Kevin. He’s done that the past couple of years and he knows how to find guys and make plays. He put it right on my tape and it was pretty easy to put it into the open net.”

Goumas led the Wildcats last season in both points and assists, while Downing was one of the team leaders in goals. Last season the two forwards combined for 25 goals and 73 points. With such presence on the first line, UNH coach Dick Umile decided to try out freshman Tyler Kelleher with the two offensive studs.

“[Kelleher] is a smart hockey player and I think he can find [Goumas and Downing] and I think he can make plays with them; he is clever,” Umile said. “He is very much like the both of them and I think there might be some chemistry there.”

Downing agreed that Kelleher has potential on the top line.

“Honestly, he did really well tonight,” Downing said. “I think he used his speed and he didn’t look too nervous. He wasn’t shying away from things and I think we can only grow from here.”

UNH made it 2-0 early in the second on another power-play goal. This time, Eric Knodel found himself at the top of the slot with tons of space in front of him. Knodel stepped up and wristed a shot in the bottom right corner past Acadia goaltender Evan Moshier.

Umile split his goaltenders, opting for alternate captain and senior Jeff Whyer to start. Whyer stopped all 13 shots he saw in 32 minutes of play, including a stellar blocker save on Dylan Anderson midway through the second period.

“Jeff Whyer is fighting for time and he had a solid first half,” Umile said. “He made some key stops in some key moments. I thought he made two big saves early in the game and that’s important when you make those saves.”

DeSmith entered the game in net just over halfway through the middle frame and ended the night with 12 saves.

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