From: Foster's Daily Democrat
Brett Kostolansky went home for Thanksgiving, and he brought the rest of the University of New Hampshire men’s hockey team with him.
The senior defenseman is from Denver and lives 10 minutes from Magness Arena, where Denver University plays its home games.
Kostolansky hasn’t played there since he was a bantam, some eight years ago, but he’ll get reacquainted with the facility Saturday night (9:07) when the third-ranked Wildcats meet the No. 2 Pioneers.
“It’s a great test to see where we are,” said the alternate captain, “and what needs to be done the rest of the season.”
But first Kostolansky and the Wildcats have a date tonight with #14 Colorado College at World Arena in Colorado Springs, about an hour’s drive from Denver.
UNH (8-1-1) takes a four-game win streak into the pair of non-conference games.
“You play these non-league games to play against some of the best teams in the country to help you get to the NCAA tournament,” said UNH head coach Dick Umile. “If you win them it puts you in great position.”
Off to their best start through 10 games since the 1968-69 season, the Wildcats have put themselves in pretty good position so far. They have the nation’s best defense and rank second in penalty killing. They’ve allowed only 12 goals in 10 games, including just one in the last four, and are 35 of 37 on the PK.
“The team has bought into our defensive play,” Umile said, “and realizes how important it is and how it can add to our offense.”
UNH has outscored the opposition, 15-3, in the last six games.
“We know we can play offense,” said associate head coach Jim Tortorella, who works primarily with the defense, “but if we all play defense we’ll have more offense and I think the guys are taking pride in that.”
It also helps to have a goalie on top of his game as the last line of defense. Sophomore Casey DeSmith ranks in the top three nationally in four major goaltending categories. The Rochester native is second in goals-against average (1.19), save percentage (.961) and shutouts (4), and third in winning percentage (.850).
“All we have to do is score a couple of goals,” Umile said, “and we have a shot at winning the way he’s playing.”
The Wildcats will look to keep the momentum going as they close out a month in which they have only two home games. The contests against Colorado College (7-5) and Denver (9-1) are the last of a stretch in which UNH will have played seven of eight on the road.
The Wildcats are 11-5 all-time against CC and 3-9 against Denver. They’ve won seven straight and 10 of 11 against the Tigers. They’ve lost five of six to the Pioneers, including a 4-2 setback in the national quarterfinals in 2005.
UNH hasn’t played Colorado College since 2007. Denver swept a home-and-home series with CC last weekend by scores of 6-5 and 6-2.
“It’s a great opportunity,” Umile said. “Hopefully we can go out there and be successful.”