Union beats UNH, but Bennett wants smarter effort
The effort was there at times. But Union coach Rick Bennett believes the Dutchmen need to be smarter.
However, Bennett won't give back a win.
Matt Hatch, Michael Pontarelli and Daniel Carr scored, and goalie Colin Stevens made 38 saves as the sixth-ranked Dutchmen beat No. 17 New Hampshire, 3-1, in a non-conference game Friday at the Whittemore Center in Durham, N.H.
It was the Dutchmen's first win over the Wildcats in the Division I era. Union beat UNH, 8-4, Jan. 28, 1977, when the Dutchmen were a Division III program. It's also Union's first victory in four tries at UNH.
While pleased with getting the victory, Bennett thought the effort was good, but could have been better in a rink that is 15 feet wider than Union is to playing.
"It wasn't one of our smartest games," Bennett said. "I guess it's [like] the old Herb Brooks saying, 'Play hard, but you've got to play smart.' It is a tough environment to play in. It took a game to get used to. We'll get better tomorrow with our execution.
"When we transitioned to defense, we weren't executing our systems by picking up the proper guys in the defensive zone. We made it easy on their defensemen a lot of the times. And we didn’t box out well."
Hatch gave the Dutchmen (14-4-3) a 1-0 lead when he jammed the puck past goalie Casey DeSmith at 4:21. Pontarelli, who assisted on that goal, scored 2:45 later, with Hatch getting an assist.
Carr, who played center with the absence of Mike Vecchione, scored a power-play goal 5:49 into the second period. His team-leading 11th goal was his 131st career point, tying him for first place with Adam Presizniuk on the Dutchmen's all-time Division I scoring list.
"The last four years, we've really had good teams," Carr said. "I've been fortunate enough to play with really good players."
Stevens was sharp all game. He made 18 saves in the third period as UNH (13-11-1) tried to rally. The Wildcats did a get a goal from Nick Sorkin 47 seconds into the third, but that was it.
"He was excellent in the third," Bennett said. "He was good throughout the game. He helped us when we were running around in our D-zone, and he would deflect pucks into the netting [above the glass] to relieve pressure and allow us to change [lines]. I thought that was crucial for us."
Defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere and forward Matt Wilkins, who were questionable for the game after suffering injuries last Saturday at Princeton, both played.
While neither player had a point, Bennett was pleased with their efforts.
On Gostisbehere, Bennett said, "I thought he kept it simple. He jumped into the play when he needed to. I thought he played a nice, simple game, and I thought he was very effective with that."
On Wilkins, who had a team-high five shots on goal, Bennett said, "That was one of his better games. He created a lot of offense and really helped out Dan Carr at center."
Mat Bodie and Eli Lichtenwald had two assists each. Bodie leads the team with 20 assists. ...
Pontarelli and Hatch had assists on each other's goals. ...
Union improved to 6-1-1 against ranked opponents this season. ...
The teams play again at 7 p.m. Saturday.
To view highlight of the game, thanks to UNH, click here.