Sophomore Blake Kessel pots game-winner for Wildcats

Blake Kessel scored the game-winner for the Wildcats

DURHAM, N.H. - Blake Kessel (Verona, Wis.) broke a 1-1 third period tie to lift the University of New Hampshire men's hockey team to Friday night's 2-1 victory against eighth-ranked University of Massachusetts-Lowell in Hockey East action at the Whittemore Center.

UNH extended its unbeaten streak to five games (4-0-1) to improve to 6-6-3 overall and remain atop the Hockey East standings at 6-2-2. UML is now 8-5-1, 4-4-1.

Wildcats' goaltender Brian Foster (Pembroke, N.H.) finished with 29 saves, including 10 in the third period. UML counterpart Carter Hutton stopped 32 shots, including 11 in the second stanza and 12 in the third.

Following a scoreless first period, both teams netted a second-period goal. The Wildcats opened the period on the power play and took advantage of their skater advantage by scoring a goal at 1:40. Hutton stopped the initial shot from the right point by Damon Kipp (Salmon Arm, British Columbia) as well as the rebound opportunity in front by Stevie Moses (Leominster, Mass.). Mike Sislo (Superior, Wis.) corralled the puck off that rebound, however, and scored from the left doorstep into the open near side of the net.

Mass-Lowell leveled the score, 1-1, at 16:54 of the second period. Kory Falite exited the penalty box at 16:36, won a battle for the puck on the boards in the neutral zone and passed the puck to Campbell, who sent a return pass along the left boards to Falite. He carried the puck deep along the dashers and fired a shot that caromed off Foster's right leg pad and the left post before crossing the goal line for the tying goal.

New Hampshire regained the lead at 6:47 of the third period. Greg Burke (Lee, N.H.) collected a centering pass from Mike Borisenok (Watervliet, N.Y.) in the slot and, with his back to the net, dropped the puck towards the right circle. Kessel, who had charged from the blue line, was alone on the right doorstep and lifted the puck into the open near side.

The River Hawks called time out with 1:16 remaining and pulled Hutton in favor of an extra skater with 61 seconds to play. UML could not sustain possession, however, and Bobby Butler (Marlboro, Mass.) cleared the puck to the neutral zone with 45 seconds on the clock. The visitors reentered the offensive zone moments later and Foster denied Campbell, who maneuvered from the right corner along the goal line to the right post.

UNH cleared the zone, but once again the River Hawks quickly reentered the attacking zone and Foster denied Campbell yet again from point-blank range in the waning seconds. The rebound went to the low slot, and Kessel cleared the puck to the corner to secure the victory.

The River Hawks recorded a 11-9 shot advantage in the first period, and they created the most dangerous scoring opportunity with seven minutes to play in the stanza, when Ben Holmstrom's shot from the right circle was stopped by Foster, who then had to stop Holmstrom's redirection in front as well as Paul Worthington's chance from the left doorstep.

New Hampshire returns to action Dec. 6 at 19th-ranked University of Vermont. The game, which begins at 3 p.m., will be televised on ESPNU. The Wildcats return home after the holiday break on Sunday, Jan. 3 (3 p.m.) against Cornell University. The game will also be broadcast live on ESPNU.