The Terrier hockey team exploded for three third-period goals en route to a 5-2 win over the nation's fifth-ranked University of New Hampshire Wildcats in Hockey East action on Thursday night (January 23rd).
A Walter Brown Arena crowd of 3443 cheered as the Terriers ended their three-game losing streak and improved their overall record to 14-9-2 and 8-7-0 in league action. Their 16 points in Hockey East play moved them into sole possession of fourth place in the league standings.
In the meantime, the Wildcats, who were tied for first place in the standings with Boston College, slipped to a 16-5-3 overall record and a 10-3-1 mark in the league. Two of UNH's losses in the conference have been to the Terriers, as B.U. skated to a 3-2 win over New Hampshire back on November 2nd.
The Wildcats will try to salvage at least one game from the season series on Saturday night when they host the Terriers in a 7:00 p.m. game at the Whittemore Center.
"They outplayed us especially in the third period," New Hampshire coach Dick Umile said after the game. "We have no excuses. We let their guy (David Klema) walk in around us and score that first goal of the third period. After that, we lost our composure."
Klema's goal came at 10:22 of the third period and put the Terriers ahead, 3-2. It was a lead they would never relinquish.
"All week long, Coach (Parker) had stressed to go wide on them," Klema said. "I got the puck on the boards and beat their defense. I think their goalie (Mike Ayers) felt I was going to pass the puck, but I saw an opening between his leg and the post and put it there."
Matt Radoslovich and Freddy Meyer were credited with the assists.
"I think that goal really ignited us," said Parker. "It really got the crowd into it."
Meyer, who was voted the ITECH first star of the game, added an insurance goal at 16:53 of the period when he stole the puck from UNH's Colin Hemingway. He brought the puck down along the left boards and cut in to the left faceoff circle. At that point, he let go with a slap shot that beat Ayers to the glove side for an unassisted goal.
"Hemingway was coming up ice on a rush," recalled Meyer after the game. "Fortunately, I got a piece of him and the puck went over to the boards. I came in and saw an opening on his (Ayers) glove side and the puck caught the net."
Frantisek Skladany closed out the three-goal outburst with a power play goal at 17:19 of the third period. He was set up nicely in front of Ayers on a pass from Mark Mullen. Mullen got the puck from Brian McConnell and Skladany finished it off for his eighth goal of the season.
"I think this was a more important game for us than for them," Parker said after the game. "Our backs were against the wall, and we needed this win.
"I was very pleased with our overall effort tonight," the coach continued. "The keys were we got power play goals (2-for-4) and we killed penalties (3-for-3). We did both, and we won the game. We had been struggling on our power play so it was nice to get those two goals. It was also nice to outshoot them (42-21)."
"This was a huge win for us," said Meyer, who now has 2 goals and 5 assists for 7 points in 10 career games against the Wildcats. "We went into the game wanting to keep it close through two periods, win the third period, and win the game. We had a good week of practice, and we played hard tonight."
"I think we set the tempo tonight," said Klema.
The Terriers did exactly that from the first period, as they outshot the Wildcats, 19-9. However, New Hampshire came out of those first 20 minutes of action with a 2-1 lead when Tyler Scott scored his second goal of the season off a rebound from Jim Abbott. The shot beat Terrier goalie Sean Fields, and UNH had a 1-0 lead at 4:32 of the first period.
The Terriers drew even at 13:50 of the period when Kenny Magowan scored his fourth goal of the season when his shot bounced off Ayers' right shoulder. Skladany picked up the only assist on the goal.
New Hampshire closed out the first-period scoring when Preston Callander picked up the puck behind the Terrier net, came out to Fields' left, and slipped the puck into the net for his ninth goal of the season.
The Terriers, who outshot the Wildcats, 10-8, in the middle period, scored the only goal of the second period. It came at the 14:02 mark when Brian McConnell, who returned to the lineup after sitting out last Friday night's game at BC as a healthy scratch, scored his seventh goal of the season. Again, Meyer had a hand in the goal although he did not get an assist. Situated at the right point, he passed the puck over to Bryan Miller, who was on the left point. He, in turn gave it to Skladany, who was just inside the UNH zone. Skladany then passed the puck down low to McConnell, who was camped just outside the crease and to Ayers' left. He one-timed his shot and the Terriers had a power play goal and a tie game.
That set the stage for the three-goal outburst.