UNH men's hockey has 'special' weekend to sweep Northeastern

Nov. 19—DURHAM — Northeastern University men's hockey coach Jerry Keefe summarized the Huskies' series with the University of New Hampshire last weekend in one sentence.

"Their special teams were better than ours this weekend," Keefe said after Northeastern's 4-0 loss to the Wildcats at the Whittemore Center on Saturday. "That was the difference."

No. 13 UNH (6-2-1, 4-1-1 Hockey East) completed its first season series sweep since 2012-13 over the weekend by winning the special teams battle against one of the top power-play and penalty-kill teams in the country.

The Wildcats won, 4-2, at Northeastern (2-7-0, 0-7-0) on Friday — their first victory at Matthews Arena since Nov. 15, 2013 — before Saturday night's victory in front of 6,010 fans in Durham. UNH also defeated the then-No. 17 Huskies, 4-1, on Oct. 26.

UNH scored both shorthanded and power play goals in each victory over the weekend. Northeastern, which owned the No. 5 penalty-kill percentage (.895) and No. 10 power-play percentage (.258) entering the weekend, went scoreless on its five power plays in each game.

The Wildcats entered the weekend with the nation's No. 3 penalty-kill percentage (.92) and are now tied for first in shorthanded goals (four).

Holding a 4-0 lead, UNH killed off a 50-second five-on-three Huskies advantage to open the third period on Saturday.

"Our PK's been great for us all year," UNH senior forward Nick Cafarelli said after Saturday's win, in which he scored his first goal of the season. "We had to battle some adversity with the penalties ... Our power play's finding a groove, which is awesome."

Freshman Ryan Conmy notched a power-play goal to complete UNH's four-goal second period and give his team a 4-1 lead on Friday. Linemate Cy LeClerc, a sophomore center from Brentwood, notched the shorthanded goal.

Conmy also scored in the first period Saturday on a wraparound shot off assists from LeClerc and Luke Reid while UNH was shorthanded. Conmy later provided the backhanded assist to Morgan Winters's diving power-play tally in front during the Wildcats' four-goal second period.

Conmy (three goals, seven assists) also had a goal called back in the first period for offsides after review.

"He's a goal scorer and I think he's gotten frustrated that it hasn't gone in for him," UNH coach Mike Souza said of Conmy. "The play they made on the shorthanded goal was awesome. It was just second effort. We talk all the time about being the better second-effort team each night and I thought that was a perfect example of it."

Souza credited his team's penalty-kill success against Northeastern to its team speed, commitment to block shots and its goaltender being its best penalty killer both nights.

Junior transfer Jakob Hellsten earned his first shutout as a Wildcat on Saturday, making 21 saves. Sophomore Tyler Muszelik made 26 stops in Friday's win at Northeastern in his first game back from a lower-body injury.

Prior to Friday, Muszelik last played in UNH's 5-4 overtime win over then-No. 4 Quinnipiac on Oct. 21.

Senior forward Cam Gendron, in his second game this season, made one of UNH's 14 blocks and cleared out a rebound in front of Hellsten in Saturday's win. The Hampstead resident also fed freshman forward Jason Siedem a behind-the-net pass that set up the latter's first career goal in his Wildcats debut.

"I thought we had a really good plan," Souza said. "I thought our kids executed. I thought from the goal on out both nights we did a great job killing off too many penalties."