New Hampshire Done In by Missed Opportunities As Wildcats Fall to Notre Dame in NCAA Hockey Tournament

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March 27, 2011

MANCHESTER, N.H. — New Hampshire senior captain Mike Sislo slouched in a chair Sunday night, still wearing his UNH sweater, recanting each of his missed opportunities in front of the Notre Dame net.

As he rattled off one after another, he got more and more emotional, eventually breaking into tears while Wildcats coach Dick Umile gave him a consoling pat on the back. Sislo was great during the Northeast Regional — unquestionably UNH's best offensive threat throughout the weekend — but he couldn't shake the what-ifs after UNH's 2-1 loss to Notre Dame at Verizon Wireless Arena.

Sislo scored the Wildcats' game-winning goal Saturday against top-seeded Miami, and he added their only tally during Sunday's defeat, but he slowly ran through a handful of chances that he missed in the slot and on the power play.

"Looking back, I maybe could have caught it or go around him," Sislo said about a one-timer that couldn't find a home in the Irish net. "It was kind of a bang-bang play. It was easier said than done, I guess, but there were a couple chances I wish I could take back. On the power play, I had the open net and put it on the high end. In the third, on the last power play, I missed the net."

It was emblematic of UNH's night in Manchester. The Wildcats generated 38 shots, and they put forth a few extended rushes that came up empty. A bounce here, a human side of Notre Dame goalie Mike Johnson there, and maybe UNH finds a way to advance to its first Frozen Four in eight years.

But there were too many missed opportunities. They struggled to bury the puck Saturday, too, but that was overlooked by UNH's shocking upset of Miami.

Credit Notre Dame for playing a very disciplined defensive game, keeping UNH's chances on the outside of the zone and controlling any pucks that dangled in the slot. But like Sislo, the rest of the Wildcats will be stricken with the memories of the pucks that couldn't find the net.

"They were great all through the game," Sislo said of Notre Dame's defensive effort. "Their whole team made it tough to get it on net, and when we did, [Johnson] did a great job of putting it in the corner or sucking it up, not giving up rebounds. He made it real tough for us."

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