DURHAM, N.H. — Matt Willows scored two goals 1:42 apart late in the third period and completed a hat trick with an empty-net goal as New Hampshire rallied from a 2-1 deficit and beat No. 19 UNO 5-2 to complete a sweep of the teams’ nonconference series Saturday night.
UNO had taken its 2-1 lead on Ryan Walters’ power-play goal with 16:39 left in the game, and the Mavs held that lead for nearly 10 minutes before Willows’ power-play goal with 6:14 left. Willows got his opportunity for a one-timer after UNO defenseman Brian O’Rourke was knocked down in front of the net, creating an opening.
Willows then converted on a 2-on-1 with a wrist shot that trickled off the glove of UNO goalie Kirk Thompson with 4:28 left to put the Wildcats ahead 3-2.
“We just failed to make a play, and they capitalized on it,” UNO assistant coach Troy Jutting said of the go-ahead goal. “Just a physical play and a mental play. We didn’t get a puck deep (into the offensive zone) when we should have, and they turned it into an odd-man rush and scored on it.”
Needing offense, UNO instead took a penalty, and its shaky penalty kill surrendered yet another goal — the second of the period and fourth of the series — on Nick Sorkin’s goal with 2:54 left
Willows’ empty-netter, his 11th goal of the season, came with 1:44 to play.
The four-goal, third-period flurry spanned 4:30 and helped New Hampshire improve to 12-10-1. UNO hadn’t allowed more than three goals in any full period all season.
Jutting said he didn’t think conditioning was a factor in the late letdown — before this weekend UNO hadn’t played since Dec. 7 and had played only two games since Nov. 23.
“The long break is tough because of the timing,” Jutting said. “As much as you try to duplicate things in practice, things happen quicker when the adrenaline is pumping. We made some nice plays and had some good scoring opportunities that we normally finish. But ultimately you have to get the job done, and tonight we didn’t.”
Sorkin had a goal and two assists, while Kevin Goumas picked up three assists for the Wildcats.
The Mavs (8-9-1) were swept for the second time this season, having previously dropped both games in an October home series with Cornell. UNO played the second of three games without coach Dean Blais and defenseman Jaycob Megna, suspended three games because of an extra-benefits violation.
After losing 6-3 Friday in its first game in a month, UNO started strong Saturday as Josh Archibald scored his 14th goal of the season and third of the series at the 13:51 mark of the first period.
New Hampshire tied the game on a Casey Thursh goal, his second of the series and fourth of the year, at 1:52 of the second period.
Walters’ goal came on a 4-on-3 power play — all five of his goals have come on power plays.
Each team had just six shots on goal in the first period, but New Hampshire, which outshot UNO 17-9 in the third period, eventually accumulated a 36-29 advantage.
UNO returns home for the first time since Nov. 23 when it plays Minnesota-Duluth in a National Collegiate Hockey Conference series Friday and Saturday.
“That’s a good hockey team we played against, but we’ve just got to do a better job,” Jutting said. “We’ve got to go back to work Monday and we’re in the conference now the rest of the way out, so every game is that much more critical.”
UNO (8-9-1) .......................................... 1 0 1—2
At New Hampshire (12-10-1) .......................................... 0 1 4—5
First period: 1, UNO, Archibald 14 (Walters, Zombo), 13:51.
Second period: 2, NH, Thursh 4 (Bourque, Cleland), 1:52.
Third period: UNO, Walters 5 (Young, Archibald), 3:21 (pp, 4-on-3). 4, NH, Willows 9 (Goumas, Sorkin), 13:46 (pp). 5, NH, Willows 10 (Sorkin, Knodel), 15:28. 6, NH, Sorkin 12 (Goumas, Knodel), 17:06 (pp). 7, NH, Willows 11 (Goumas), 18:16 (en).
Shots on goal:
UNO .......................................... 6 14 9—29
New Hampshire .......................................... 6 13 17—36
Power plays: UNO 1-5, NH 2-7.
Penalties-minutes: UNO 7-14, CC 6-12.
Goalies: UNO, Thompson 3-3-1 (35 shots, 31 saves), 59:44. NH, DeSmith 10-8 (29 shots, 27 saves), 60:00.