Wildcats clinch at least a share of Hockey East regular season title

DURHAM, N.H. -- Senior forward Jacob Micflikier (Winnipeg, Manitoba) netted his fourth-career hat trick as the third-ranked University of New Hampshire men’s ice hockey team (23-6-2, 18-4-2 HE) defeated the Providence College Friars (7-21-3, 6-15-3 HE), 6-4, in a Hockey East slugfest Friday night at the Whittemore Center.

Four different Wildcats tallied two points to go along with Micflikier’s first three-goal performance since Feb. 11, 2005 vs. Massachusetts, to lead the offensive charge for UNH. With the win, UNH clinched at least a share of the regular-season title tonight and they need one point in the remaining three games to clinch the title outright. The Wildcats have won six Hockey East regular-season titles.

The ‘Cats took a 5-4 advantage 2:02 into the final frame when freshman forward Bobby Butler (Marlboro, Mass.) received a pass from sophomore forward Trevor Smith (North Vancouver, B.C.) and skated into the left circle, blasting a shot past the glove of PC goalie Tyler Sims for the game-winning goal. Sophomore defenseman Joe Charlebois (Potsdam, N.Y.) also recorded an assist on the play.

After Providence opened the scoring midway through the first period, UNH gained the equalizer at 15:25 in the opening frame when a Josh Ciocco (Acto, N.J.) rebound reached Micflikier who was perched on the right side of the night, just beneath the circle. Micflikier threw a shot on goal that went off the skate of Sims and into the net. Junior defenseman Brad Flaishans (Glendale, Ariz.) was also credit with an assist on the play.

The Wildcats moved ahead 37 seconds later when the rebound off a Greg Collins (Fairport, N.Y.) shot was picked up by senior forward Shawn Vinz (Rochester, Minn.) at the bottom of the right circle. Vinz beat a diving Sims who was moving back to his left. Sophomore forward Thomas Fortney (Webster Groves, Mo.) also received an assist.

After the Friars pulled even, the ‘Cats took a 3-2 lead at 8:23 in the second frame when senior forward Brett Hemmingway (Surrey, B.C.), stationed along the boards on the right side of the ice, passed the puck to junior forward Mike Radja (Yorkville, Ill.) in the right circle. Radja dished the puck to the left circle to setup Micflikier’s second tally of the night when he scored five-hole on Sims.

After back-to-back Providence goals gave the Friars a 4-3 advantage, Micfliker completed the hat trick and evened the score when he took a Hemingway pass in the right circle and snapped a wrist shot toward the net that went off Sims and in. Mike Radja was also credited with an assist on the play.

The Wildcats added some insurance at 7:49 in the third period when Collins and sophomore defenseman Jamie Fritsch (Odenton, Md.) assisted on a Fortney goal.

The ‘Cats and Friars finish the home and home series Saturday (Feb. 24) at 7 p.m. at Schneider Arena in Providence, R.I.