NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. – Freshman Casey DeSmith (Rochester, N.H.) stopped 34 shots including 12 in the second period to help pace the University of New Hampshire men's hockey team to a 1-1 overtime tie with eighth-ranked Merrimack College in Hockey East action on Saturday night at Lawler Arena.
UNH, which extends its unbeaten streak to four games (3-0-1), moves to 12-14-3, 9-11-2 HE. Merrimack is now 15-7-6, 11-6-4 in Hockey East. The Wildcats captured three points in Hockey East and are now in seventh place four points ahead of Massachusetts and Northeastern and one point behind Providence.
DeSmith moves to 6-5-1, while his counterpart Joe Cannata turned aside 40 shots including double-figures in all four period. Cannata is now 14-7-6.
Merrimack scored in the final minute of the first period for the game's first goal at 19:36. Just two seconds after a UNH penalty had expired, Jeff Velleca found the back of the net for his seventh of the season. Jesse Todd and Karl Stollery assisted on the goal. In an even-played period it was UNH with a slim 14-12 shot advantage in the frame.
UNH tied it on a rebound wrister by Grayson Downing (Abbottsford, British Columbia) at 15:32 of the second period. Greg Burke (Lee, N.H.) won a faceoff in the offensive zone back to Trevor van Riemsdyk (Middletown, N.J.). van Riemsdyk fired a slapshot that hit Burke and bounced out to a crashing Downing for the equalizer. UNH held a 13-8 shot edge in the frame.
In a scoreless third period, both teams have chances to net the go-ahead goal. The Warriors held a slim 12-10 shot advantage. Merrimack had a flurry of shots on DeSmith with five minutes lift. A long rebound bounced out to Burke and sent the Wildcats on a rush the other way, Stevie Moses (Leominster, Mass.) rifled a one-timer that nearly beat Cannata short-side.
New Hampshire had the better of chances in a scoreless overtime, officially outshooting Merrimack 4-3 for a game total of 41-35.
UNH was 0-2 on the power play. Merrimack was unsuccessful in its only power play opportunity, but scored just two seconds after it concluded.
New Hampshire returns to action when it concludes the home portion of the 2012 regular season Feb. 17-18 against the University of Vermont. Both games begin at 7 p.m. with Friday's game on WBIN-TV and Saturday's game being senior night when the team will honor its six-player senior class.