Wildcats rally with three third-period goals to tie game

UNH has won the regular season title for the eighth time

DURHAM, N.H. - The No. 10 ranked University of New Hampshire men's ice hockey team (17-10-6 overall, 16-5-5 Hockey East) scored three-straight goals in the third period, including the game-tying goal by sophomore defenseman Blake Kessel (Verona, Wis.) with 3:55 left to play in regulation, to earn a 3-3 overtime tie against No. 5 Boston College and lift New Hampshire to its eighth Hockey East regular season title and third in the last four years.

The Wildcats, who secured the top seed in the upcoming Hockey East tournament, completed the Hockey East home slate unbeaten with a 9-0-4 mark and will host a best of three quarterfinal series next weekend starting with a 7 p.m. start on Friday, March 12. Boston College moves to 20-11-2 overall, 15-9-2 Hockey East.

Trailing 3-0 heading into the third period, UNH came out fired up for the period and that is when the momentum changed. The Wildcats got on the board when sophomore Mike Borisenok (Watervliet, N.Y.) won the draw and then freshman John Henrion (Holden, Mass.) fired a shot from the right circle past Milner to cut the BC lead to 3-1 just 1:46 into the final period. The first penalty of the game came at 4:40 of the third, a tripping call on UNH freshman Greg Burke, and then at 5:19 BCs Steven Whitney went in the box for slashing. Both teams killed their respective penalties. However, the Wildcats scored their second consecutive tally, this time at 8:33 of the third when sophomore Kevin McCarey (Baldwinsville, N.Y.) buried a long shot in the net off assists by junior Phil DeSimone (East Amherst, N.Y.) and junior Mike Beck (Long Beach, Calif.) to close to within one goal, 3-2 in favor of BC.

UNH continued to put the pressure on the Eagles and as a result BC's Joe Whitney went in the penalty box for tripping at 14:38 of the third. The Wildcats took advantage, scoring their third straight goal at 16:05 when sophomore Kessel took a pass from senior Bobby Butler (Marlboro, Mass.) skated in from straight on and blasted a hard shot past Milner to tie things up 3-3. DeSimone added his second big assist of the night and the Whittemore Center sell-out crowd of 6,501 exploded. The Kessel goal sent the game into overtime, the 11th of the season for UNH, and after a strong three-goal Wildcat third period, BC led the shot totals by just one, 28-27, with Foster stopping 25 BC shots and Milner posting 24 saves.

Overtime featured several big saves by Brian Foster (Pembroke, N.H.), as BC turned up the pressure and UNH nearly earned the victory on a breakaway bid by UNH junior Paul Thompson (Derry, N.H.), but time expired and UNH was the Hockey East Regular Season Champions.

BC drew first blood at 12:26 of the first period as freshman Chris Kreider scored following a shot by senior Ben Smith that was deflected out in front and Kreider stuffed the puck in the net past Foster for the 1-0 advantage. Also assisting on the play was sophomore Jimmy Hayes. The score remained 1-0 at the end of the opening stanza with BC leading the way in shots 14-10. Foster recorded 13 saves for UNH, while freshman Eagle goalie Parker Milner checked in with 10 stops for the visitors. Both teams stayed out of the penalty box for the first 20 minutes of the contest.

The Eagles jumped out to a 2-0 lead at 4:15 of the second period when senior Matt Lombardi took a pass from freshman Brian Dumoulin out by the left circle and he fired a long shot past Foster. Also credited with an assist was Barry Almeida. For the second time of the night the goal was reviewed, this time after a delayed penalty, and for the second time the goal stood. BC quickly made it 3-0 at 5:47 of the second period when sophomore Tommy Cross scored off assists by Ben Smith and Edwin Shea. After an even first period, the visitors outshot the Wildcats by a 20-10 margin at the 10 minute mark of the second period. After 40 minutes of play, the visitors outshot UNH 25-13 and not a single player had spent time in the penalty box for either team. Foster had turned away 22 BC shots, while Milner made 15 saves.

Foster finished with 30 saves for the game and moves to 15-10-7, while Milner had 26 and is now 9-2-1 for the Ealges. BC outshot UNH for the game, 33-29. The Wildcats were 1-2 on the power play, while BC was 0-1 with a delayed penalty goal.

The Wildcats will return to action on Saturday when UNH travels to play at Boston College. Game time is 7 p.m. at Conte Forum for the regular season finale.