Frustration Mounts for New Hampshire
Two games, no goals to start the season for UNH
by Joe Meloni/CHN Staff Writer
BOSTON For a few minutes, it looked like New Hampshire.
Sophomore winger Kevin Goumas booked it down the left wing, leading the rush with Stevie Moses and Mike Borisenok trailing the play. Two Northeastern defensemen drifted back, heads panning the trio of UNH speedsters with their eyes fixed on the mesh behind goaltender Chris Rawlings.
This is a situation that leads to goals for the Wildcats.
At least it did in the past.
Friday night, any odd-man rush or quality scoring chance created by any combination of Wildcats led to little more than frustration. More frustration for a team that watched all 35 of its scoring chances brushed aside or swallowed by Kieran Millan last Saturday at Boston University.
"Guys were coming across the blue line trying to shoot the puck just to get something generated," Borisenok said Friday night. "The shot was either getting blocked or, when there was a rebound, it didn't bounce out to one of our guys going to the net."
Friday night ended with the Huskies on top, 4-0, and the Wildcats heading back to Durham for a Saturday night matchup with Boston College. Sixty minutes with Jerry York's boys is hardly something teams look forward to. Spending the 120 minutes before that without a goal only makes it worse.
"Right now, there's a lot of disappointment," Umile said. "We're a team that's not playing well. We've had some moments where we played well, but we're not getting quality shots. We're not getting scoring chances. We might've had some shots, but I don't know how many grade-As we had.
"I give them credit for staying with it, but we have to find ways to get quality shots."
More pressure. More doubt, and one more reason to question whether or not this is the same old story with UNH. If it is, the Wildcats will figure it out. Moses, Borisenok and Goumas will morph into the typical top trio Umile has come to rely on in his now-22 seasons in Durham.
Despite the rough losses to kick off the 2011-12 campaign, optimism is still high in Durham, and it should be. The formula has worked for almost every season since Umile took over. For years, the questions have come. A few gifted upperclassmen leave, and everyone wonders if the magic is gone.
Then Trevor Smith or Paul Thompson or Matt Fornataro scores a couple dozen goals, and everyone wonders how he does it.
Right now, Moses, the heir apparent, looks a far cry from the talisman typically affixed on one of the wings at the Whittemore Center.
It's early, though. The expectations, more than any tangible element, make two games without a goal seem like a month without a sniff.
UNH scores goals. And it scores a lot of them.
Much like last week against BU, the Wildcats created some chances early and pressed when they fell behind. The 34 shot attempts blocked by the Northeastern skaters certainly augmented the Wildcats' tighter grips. But equally present is a lack of understanding and trust on the ice. A hallmark of UNH offense is, well, beauty. Its forward weave together remarkable sequences with every strike, it seems.
A perfect breakout pass, a dart through the neutral zone, a flick of the wrist and a tap-in — it usually goes something like that. And they can dig in when they need to, muscling for rebounds and banging pucks home.
Neither scenario, the beautiful nor the bold, has happened through two games. One-hundred and twenty minutes and no goals, certainly not something Umile is accustomed, too.
"We're shooting the puck," Borisenok said. "But we're not taking quality grade-A shots. When we do try to make a play, sometimes we try to make too much of a play instead of making the simple play. We have to keep things simple, so that things start to click."
Offense was hardly their only problem Friday night. The Huskies put up three quick goals on the Wildcats in the first period. Each of them bred from the dreadful defensive zone breakdowns that gave BU its first three goals last weekend. Following the game, though, none of that mattered much to Umile.
Eyes on the ground, head clamped to his forehead, his brevity was not without its truth.
"We just need to score a goal," he said. "That'll fix everything."