MANCHESTER, N.H. - Steve Saviano (Reading, Mass.) recorded his second career hat trick and Mike Ayers (Hingham, Mass.) made 30 saves for his 11th career shutout to propel the ninth-ranked University of New Hampshire men's hockey team to Tuesday night's 5-0 non-conference victory against 15th-ranked Dartmouth College at the Verizon Wireless Arena.
With the victory, UNH is now 2-0-1 in the "Battle for the Riverstone" against Dartmouth. UNH won the inaugural battle, 6-3, in the first collegiate hockey game at the Verizon Wireless Arena on Dec. 13, 2001 and the teams skated to a 1-1 tie last season.
The Wildcats, led by co-Players of the Game in Ayers and Saviano, improved to 13-7-3 overall (6-3-3 Hockey East) while the Big Green is now 6-4-5 (4-1-3 ECAC). Justin Aikins (South Surrey, B.C.) recorded a career-high four assists, Preston Callander (Regina, Sask.) matched his career high of two goals and Mick Mounsey (Concord, N.H.) registered two assists to equal his career-best mark.
UNH, behind the strong goaltending of Ayers, withstood Dartmouth's early flurry that included a Mike Ouellette shot that caromed off the pipe and built a 2-0 lead in the first period. Callander, with the help of Mounsey, gave the 'Cats a 1-0 lead at 10:15 when he scored from the right circle. Saviano netted the first of his three goals with 1:22 remaining in the opening stanza as UNH needed just nine seconds to convert on a power play opportunity on a shot from the right doorstep.
The Wildcats also netted a pair of second-period goals to build a 4-0 lead through 40 minutes. Saviano, sent into the offensive zone alone on a Nathan Martz (Chilliwack, B.C.) pass, scored on a slap shot from the right circle at 5:21. Saviano completed the hat trick by scoring into an open net at 15:30 of the middle stanza. Aikins set up the tally with a centering pass to Sean Collins (Reading, Mass.) that drew DC goalie Dan Yacey to the top of the crease and Collins redirected the puck back to Saviano.
Callander capped the scoring at 8:00 of the final frame on a shot from the low slot that was set up by Jacob Micfliker (Winnipeg, Man.) and Aikins.
Yacey made nine saves and surrendered four goals in two periods. Sean Samuel played the third period and stopped 10 of 11 shots.
Dartmouth finished with a 30-24 shot advantage that included a 22-13 edge through two periods.
UNH returns to action Jan. 17 with a home game vs. Brown University. Game time at the Whittemore Center is 7 p.m.