UNH hockey: Tying up a few loose ends
Thanksgiving’s hours away – but there’s no rest for the UNH hockey team.
The Wildcats are on the road, getting ready to play a weekend series at Colorado College. Once the second game ends, No. 20 UNH will have played 10 games in 23 days, a stretch that has been made all the more grueling for the well-traveled ’Cats with a weekend in Providence and a cross-country trip to Colorado.
It hasn’t been an easy slate. But the Wildcats haven’t seemed any worse for the wear, winning the first six games of that jaunt, earning a split with Hockey East leader Providence and playing at a high level until falling back to earth with a 6-3 loss to Harvard Tuesday.
With the Wildcats now about to try their hand at a favorable matchup with 1-8-2 Colorado College, here are a few thoughts on the team’s recent play:
∎ It’s hard to pick a hero so far, and that could be a good thing. Last year, Kevin Goumas was scoring at a rate among the best in the country, and the Wildcats rolled to a No. 1 ranking by early December as a result. The problem was that Goumas eventually cooled, and the UNH offense slumped below its first-half standards as a result. This year, the Wildcats don’t have that elite scorer (Goumas is tied for 20th nationally with a team-high 15 points), but it hasn’t prevented them from managing a respectable 3.20 goals per game, good for 16th in the country and fourth in Hockey East. Goumas has played well, but so have Nick Sorkin (eight goals), Grayson Downing (eight goals) and Trevor van Riemsdyk (15 points, tops among defensemen nationally). It’s a deep crop of scorers for UNH, which could allow the offense to keep ticking should one player fall off.
∎ The loss to Harvard further highlighted details about UNH’s record that are both troubling and uplifting. Despite starting the year with losses in five of seven games, most of those were out-of-conference, and the Wildcats’ subsequent winning streak has them second in Hockey East at 5-3 (7-7-1 overall). That’s the good news, that UNH is still right in the thick of things in what is shaping up to be a highly competitive conference race. Things get tough if the team falls back, however. The loss to the Crimson made UNH 2-4-1 out of conference, and won’t help the Wildcats score PairWise respect if they need it come March.
∎ A set against Colorado College gives UNH an easier opponent to bounce back against, but it’s a short reprieve: Next up for the Wildcats is No. 7 Boston College, which currently has Division I’s top offense, as well as its leading scorer in Johnny Gaudreau.
(Drew Bonifant can be reached at 369-3340 or at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @dbonifant.)