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Quick Start Propels UNH Past Dartmouth

UNH scored four goals in the first period and never looked back in its fourth consecutive victory ― a 6-3 decision over Dartmouth on Friday.

Matt Dewkett

DURHAM, N.H. -- An old adage in sports says, "It's not about how you start, it's about how you finish."

While that often proves to be true, especially in college hockey, New Hampshire proved that starting strong does just as much good on Friday night at the Whittemore Center.

The Wildcats scored four goals in the first period and never looked back in their fourth consecutive victory ― a 6-3 decision over Granite State rival Dartmouth College. With the win, UNH moves back to an even .500 for the season with a 6-6-4 record.

"This was all about going on break and getting back to .500 playing a 60-minute game, which I thought we did," UNH head coach Dick Umile said. "We came out and I thought we played really well in the first period. Not because we got four goals, but we were moving the puck pretty well and we didn't give them too many shots."

It was a wild opening frame as the Wildcats scored four goals on their first six shots, but finished the frame leading by just a 4-2 count.

Senior assistant captain Dan Correale got the scoring going with his tenth goal of the season at the 7:43 mark, circling the net for a wraparound shot that forced Dartmouth goaltender Devin Buffalo to far to his left side.

Andrew Poturalski doubled UNH's lead and extended it 3-0 in less than a two-minute span around the opening period's midway point. The Williamsville, N.Y., native is college hockey's leading scorer with 16 goals and 16 assists after his fourth multi-goal effort of the season.

"We allow (our offense) to make plays and create plays," Umile said. "He's a real good hockey player. He's got good puck-handling skills, he can shoot, score and make plays. He's a great player."

Sophomore defenseman John Furgele fed Poturalski cutting through the slot at the 9:50 mark before he banged home a rebound left at the left crease off junior Matias Cleland's initial shot on net at 11:13.

"We were really excited to play tonight," said Poturalski, who had scored multiple points in each of his last nine games. "We knew we had one game going into Christmas, so it was a big game for us. We just wanted to have a good start and come out fast."

Maxim Gaudreault continued the strong start at the 12:13 mark, reaping the benefits of senior classmate Kyle Smith's beautiful drop feed for his seventh goal of the season.

After allowing just one goal in each of his first two starts and two last Saturday at Union, Buffalo made just two saves in 12:13 of game time before senior Charles Grant came in to provide relief.

Dartmouth held the shots on goal advantage by a 10-6 count in the first period, but wasn't able to find the scoreboard until the final four minutes when junior Grant Opperman and sophomore Corey Kalk scored back-to-back.

Defenseman Josh Hartley found his classmate Opperman with a feed across UNH sophomore Danny Tirone's crease with the latter Big Green player stuffing the puck home for his first goal this year, coming on a power play.

Weston, Mass., native junior Kyle Nickerson placed a shot on Tirone that led to Dartmouth's second goal at the 16:44 mark. Kalk followed up Nickerson's shot popped home a rebound at the doorstep for his fourth goal of the season.

The 'Cats added to their lead with single goals in the second and third period before the visitors got one back in the game's last five minutes.

Gaudreault made it a 5-2 game 13:09 into the second period, lifting a hard one-time shot over Grant's blocker from the left side on a 5-on-3 power play. The senior assistant captain from Maryland also scored twice in last Saturday's win over Maine.

"I didn't think it was an undisciplined game for us, but we didn't need to give them that 5-on-3 power play goal," Dartmouth head coach Bob Gaudet said. "We needed to be better than that, so I'm not letting my guys off the hook."

Junior Jamie Hill scored UNH's final goal of the night at the 11:13 mark of the third period, taking a beautiful one-time feed from sophomore Shane Eiserman for a shot from between the circles.

"He went to the net hard," Umile said. "He's done it a couple times this year, and it hadn't turned out with a goal. It was a great pass by Eiserman. He can go, and loves going to the net. He competes, so it was good to see him score a goal."

Dartmouth rookie defenseman Connor Yau found the back of the net for the first time in his collegiate career at 15:24, blasting a one-time shot high on Tirone off an offensive zone draw.