BOSTON -- In the longest semifinal game in the 24 years of Hockey East Championship history, junior Benn Ferriero's (Essex, Mass.) deflected shot in triple overtime catapulted Boston College past the UNH Wildcats before a crowd of 12,522 at the TD Banknorth Garden in Boston on Friday night, sending the Eagles into the finals on Saturday.
New Hampshire threatened to run away with the first semifinal of the 2008 Hockey East Championships, taking a 4-1 lead by the 12:23 mark of the second period on a pair of goals by Bobby Butler (Marlboro Mass.) and strikes by Jamie Fritsch (Odenton, Md.) and Thomas Fortney (Webster Grove, Mo.). Butler opened the scoring with the sole goal of the opening period, taking a feed from freshman James vanRiemsdyk (Middletown, N.J.) and burying a snap shot top corner over the right shoulder of BC's John Muse (East Falmouth, Mass.). Fritsch put the Wildcats up by two when he snuck a wide-angle shot past Muse's right skate, just inside the right post, at 4:44 of the second period.
BC's Ben Smith (Avon, Conn.) cut the UNH lead in half, 2-1 at 1:34 of the second stanza, knocking the puck out of mid-air past UNH senior goalie Kevin Regan (South Boston, Mass.) after the reigning Hockey East Player of the Year stoned Nathan Gerbe (Oxford, Mi.) from the left face-off circle with a stellar glove save. Butler gave the Wildcats another two-goal cushion with a nearly identical play to his first strike, taking a between-the-legs feed from vanRiemsdyk into the low slot, and firing a low drive past Muse. Fortney then gave the Wildcats a commanding three-goal cushion when he finished off a two-on-one rush, ripping a snapshot high over Muse's glove hand with 12:23 gone in the second.
Boston College came roaring back with three unanswered goals to take the Wildcats, the league's regular season champions, into extra sessions. With BC on a two-man advantage, freshman Joe Whitney (Reading, Mass.) jump-started the Eagle scoring parade when he took a feed from Ferriero and ripped a one-timer from the point past Regan with 13:42 gone in the second. Three minutes later, freshman Brian Gibbons (Braintree, Mass.) tallied with BC's second mid-air goal, tapping in his own rebound past Regan's left shoulder.
At 4:53 of the third period, BC's Dan Bertram (Calgary, Alb.) brought the Eagles all the way back to tie the match, 4-4, when Matt Price's (Milton, ON) slick backhander deflected off Bertram's skate and past Regan's right pad. Regan ensured the game would go into overtime with a sharp right pad save with less than three minutes to go. The Eagles finished regulation with a decisive 45-33 shot advantage.
Matt Greene (Plymouth, Mass.), the Hockey East's reigning defensive forward of the year, appeared to have won the game 18:30 of the first overtime, when he buried the puck following a collision between UNH's Regan and BC's Ferriero. However, the on-ice officials ruled that Regan had lost his goalkeeper's mask before Greene's shot, automatically stopping play. Regan finished the second overtime with a career-high 62 saves, while Muse had recorded 45.
Muse stoned UNH's Danny Dries at the doorstep early in the second overtime. Regan return the favor with a point blank stop of Carl Sneep on a 3-2 BC rush with 13 minutes gone. However, Regan couldn't stop Ferriero's point shot, which deflected off UNH's Craig Switzer over Regan's glove, and secured the Eagles a spot in Saturday’s final.
The Eagles, who will look to clinch their 8th Hockey East Championship title in the past 24 years, will have to await the outcome of the Boston University vs. University of Vermont game. BC faced each team three times during the regular season, dropping two games and tying one to each contender. Boston College has only seen UVM once in tournament play before, in the 2006 quarterfinals. They have faced Jack Parker's Terriers seven times, most recently in the 2007 semi-finals when they beat Boston University before defeating UNH, 5-2, in the title game. Saturday's championship will start at 7pm at the Garden for the Hockey East Championship title.