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New Hampshire Preview

Massachusetts Minutemen 11-17-2 (8-14-1) Hockey East 8th

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New Hampshire Wildcats 17-8-5 (12-7-4) Hockey East T-1st

Massachusetts will attempt to stay ahead of Maine for 8th place and the final playoff this weekend.  It won’t be easy.  They’ll be heading to Durham, New Hampshire for two games with the Wildcats who have a lot to play for as well.  The Cats are part of a four way tie for first place in Hockey East with just two weekends to go, not to mention part of the logjam at the top of the standings that has six teams all within two points of each other.

UMass will look to recapture whatever they had going on at the beginning of November when they shocked then undefeated UNH at the Mullins Center.  Kevin Boyle outdueled Wildcat goaltender Casey DeSmith in the thrilling 2-1 overtime win for the Minutemen.  It’ll be harder to duplicate that kind of result this weekend at the Whittemore Center as the Cats are 9-3-1 at home this year.

Defense and DeSmith have been leading UNH to victories this year.  Their 2.30 goals allowed per game is best in Hockey East and a lot of that has to do with DeSmith who has a .925 save percentage this season.  The Cats have the third best penalty kill in the country at 89.9%.  Offensively they’ve relied on the play of forwards Austin Block, Grayson Downing, and Kevin Goumas, all of whom have at least 10 goals this season.

To stay ahead of the Black Bears in the playoff race UMass will have to do something they haven’t done in a very long time.  Win at New Hampshire.  The program hasn’t gained a victory there since the fall of 2006 when Jon Quick was still in net.  But they desperately need at least a split this weekend considering Maine will be hosting a much easier opponent at Alfond with the Northeastern Huskies.  Forget the quarterfinals in a couple weeks.  Playoff hockey starts tonight for the Minutemen.

Beer The Triangle
Since I’m busy this weekend and the games are televised on FCS/WBIN, I’ll be beering it from my couch.  Luckily being the beer snob I am my fridge has a nice selection of Heady Topper, Founders Breakfast Stout, and some Bell’s.  For those heading north though there aren’t many brewpubs better than the Portsmouth Brewery.

Here’s a preview from the Republican, the Daily Collegian, as well as the Concord Monitor.

 

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