Durham, N.H. - Senior captain Matt Fornataro (Calgary, Alberta) recorded a goal and two assists to propel the sixth-ranked University of New Hampshire men's hockey team to Friday night's 3-2 Hockey East victory against University of Massachusetts-Lowell at the Whittemore Center.
UNH won its third consecutive game to improve to 8-2-1 overall and 5-2-1 in Hockey East. UML, which skated to a 2-2 tie against the Wildcats at the Whittemore Center earlier this month (Nov. 9), is now 4-4-4, 2-4-4.
With the score tied, 2-2, midway through the third period, Mike Radja (Yorkville, Ill.) put the Wildcats back in front. Phil DeSimone (East Amherst, N.Y.; two assists) chased down the loose puck in the left corner and threw the puck in front, where Radja collected the pass and deposited a shot in the upper-left corner of the net. DeSimone's pass deflected off Fornataro to Radja to give the senior captain his second assist of the night.
The River Hawks pulled Hamilton in favor of an extra skater with 1:05 to play, then called time out with 44 seconds remaining. A centering pass from behind the net cleared the offensive zone to the other end of the ice, however, and UML was unable to reestablish possession in the offensive zone the rest of the way.
UNH goaltender Kevin Regan (South Boston, Mass.) finished with 22 saves. Hamilton stopped 38 shots in net for UML.
UNH struck first in the opening period but the visitors took a 2-1 lead into the first intermission. Jerry Pollastrone (Revere, Mass.) netted his fourth goal of the season at 7:18 when he collected Fornataro's pass down the slot, shifted and fired a shot into the net. Brad Flashains (Glendale, Ariz.), with the outlet pass through the neutral zone, was also credited with an assist.
The River Hawks netted goals 2:23 apart to take a 2-1 lead. With the faceoff to Regan's left, UNH drew the puck back towards the net. Jonathan Maniff swept in and lifted a wrist shot into the upper-right corner to tie the score, 1-1, at 11:11. UMass-Lowell struck on its first power play of the night to go ahead 2-1 at 13:34 when Mark Roebothan, positioned at the top of the crease, collected Scott Campbell's pass from behind the net to score. Ryan Blair was also credited with an assist.
New Hampshire pulled even, 2-2, by scoring the only goal of the middle stanza at 6:46 when Craig Switzer (Peachland, British Columbia), skating in the left circle, sent a pass across the slot to an unmarked Fornataro at the right post for the goal. Radja initiated the scoring sequence with a pass to Switzer.
UNH's Peter LeBlanc (Hamilton, Ontario) generated a strong scoring opportunity on the Wildcats' power play midway through the second period when he maneuvered from the left circle towards the near post but was denied by Hamilton. The 'Cats then created a flurry in which DeSimone was denied from the slot and Radja was turned aside off the rebound at the right post.
Earlier in the second stanza, Hamilton stopped James vanRiemsdyk (Middletown, N.J.) at the top of the crease and also turned aside his shot off the rebound, then Thomas Fortney (Webster Grove, Mo.) pushed the puck just wide of the post at the left doorstep.
Early in the final frame - with the score still tied - Fornataro was denied on a breakaway bid on a left leg pad save by Hamilton. UNH maintained pressure, but once again Hamilton denied Paul Thompson (Derry, N.H.) on his shot from the slot, then Fortney's shot off the rebound sailed wide right of the cage.
New Hampshire and UMass-Lowell conclude the home-and-home series Dec. 1 (7 p.m.) at Tsongas Arena. The Wildcats' next home game is Dec. 16 (4 p.m.) against the University of Maine.