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UNH hockey team falls apart in second period in 6-2 loss to Boston College

NEWTON, Mass. – It goes down as a beatdown in the books, but there were some nuggets of good the University of New Hampshire hockey team could take from its visit to Boston College. The Wildcats outshot and out-possessed the best offense in the country. They generated chances. And they had the advantage in discipline, going the entire game without allowing an Eagles power play.

But there were mistakes. There were lapses in focus, one after another, on the defensive end, and the Eagles – as a top-10 team is prone to do – took advantage nearly every time.

UNH saw a close game rapidly fall apart in a disastrous second period, en route to an ugly 6-2 loss to the ninth-ranked Eagles at Conte Forum’s Kelley Rink last night.

The Wildcats (9-8-1, 5-5) will play BC again at the Whittemore Center tonight.

“I don’t think it’s a secret. Obviously we got outplayed in the second period, the game was determined in the second period,” UNH Coach Dick Umile said. “We’re playing Boston College, a pretty good team, don’t you think? And we just gave it to them in the second period.”

The second period, which began with No. 18 UNH down 1-0 and ended with a 5-1 deficit, was the fatal blow, and it negated what the stats suggested was an excellent road game in the works. The Wildcats, in their first Eastern time zone game since a 6-3 home loss to Harvard, looked far more focused – at least on offense – from the opening faceoff against the perennial powers from Chestnut Hill, finishing the first period with an astonishing 16-4 advantage in shots on goal.

They couldn’t translate that into progress on the scoreboard, however, and starting what became a theme for the night, BC (8-4-2, 4-1-1) needed only one slip-up from UNH to land the first blow. Bill Arnold passed the puck up ice, off a stick and through the Wildcats defense, and Johnny Gaudreau, one of the country’s most dangerous offensive players, took it on a breakaway and easily beat Casey DeSmith for his 13th goal, putting the Eagles up 1-0 just 1:07 into the game and sending DeSmith (12 saves on 17 shots) on his way to a nightmarish outing between the pipes.

UNH drew even 18 seconds into the second period, when Jeff Silengo skated through the crease and beat Eagles goalie Brian Billett (39 saves) from the right circle, but the momentum turn was fleeting – Steve Santini knocked in Destry Straight’s doorstep rebound 48 seconds later to put BC up 2-1.

The two quick-strike goals completely negated UNH’s purpose to that point. The Wildcats had controlled the action, but had only a deficit – and only 1:55 spent enjoying so much as a tie – to show for it.

“It kind of was a downer when they got the one right after,” Silengo said. “They caught us flat-footed a couple of times. We didn’t play as well as we thought we should have in the second period, and they took advantage.”

The Wildcats didn’t sniff the lead again, thanks to a dizzying BC run that quickly made a laugher of a tight game. Gaudreau set up Austin Cangelosi with an excellent feed into the crease from the left boards 15:04 into the period, Teddy Doherty scored 16:26 in and Kevin Hayes scored 18 seconds later, giving the Eagles three goals in 1:40 and prompting the hook for DeSmith.

Jeff Wyer came in and stopped three of four shots, allowing a goal to Straight 4:59 into the third.

“We had our fair share of chances. Could have been a totally different game,” said junior defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk, who scored the final goal from inside the blue line 6:50 into the third. “When they got their chances, they put them in the back of the net. That was pretty much the difference tonight. I didn’t think it was too lopsided. They found the back of the net, we didn’t.”

That’s not to say the UNH players and coaches were chalking the second-period deluge up to odd bounces and unlucky breaks. The Wildcats were nowhere near happy with their defense, which featured the unmarked men and unplayed pucks necessary for a team to score six goals with only 21 shots on net.

“We didn’t play very well defensively in the second period,” Umile said. “We just didn’t get it done in the second. I don’t think, from the net up, we played very well defensively.”

Next-day rematches always put the emphasis on a quick turnaround, but for UNH, getting the defense shaped up is even more urgent – as the country’s No. 1 offense, BC doesn’t need defensive miscues to put six in the net.

“I think we all knew that coming in, that they have a pretty high-octane offense,” van Riemsdyk said. “(We have to know) if they score, not to get down. They do that a lot. We’ve just got to bounce back and limit their chances.”

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