MANCHESTER, N. H. - Kevin Goumas (Lake Worth, Fla.) scored two goals, including an empty-net goal with 1:25 remaining, to lift the 11th-ranked University of New Hampshire men's hockey team to Saturday afternoon's 3-1 victory against fourth-ranked Miami University in a Northeast Region semifinal game at the Verizon Wireless Arena.
UNH, the region's fourth seed, improves to 22-10-6 overall, and advances to Sunday's Northeast Region final against the winner of Saturday's nightcap between Merrimack College and University of Notre Dame. It is third consecutive year in a regional final for the Wildcats, whose 10 consecutive appearances in the NCAA tournament is the second-longest active streak.
Miami, champion of the CCHA tournament and Frozen Four participant in both 2009 and 2010, ends the season at 23-10-6.
Miami jumped on the board first just 53 seconds into the opening period off some quick passing. Alden Hirschfeld initiated the sequence when he dug the puck out of the left corner for Carter Camper, who was posted on the left end line. Camper's quick touch pass found Byron Paulazzo's stick in the low slot, where his initial shot was saved by UNH goaltender Matt Di Girolamo (Ambler, Pa.; 21 saves). Paulazzo gathered the rebound, however, and put the puck into vacant left side of the net.
UNH evened things at 1-1 exactly one minute later when a shot from Matt Campanale (Chester Springs, Pa.) from the right point went wide to the left of the net, but caromed off the boards to the right end line where Kevin Goumas (Lake Worth, Fla.) snuck his shot just inside the left post from a tough angle. Damon Kipp (Salmon Arm, B.C.) also earned an assist on the play.
The Wildcats appeared to go ahead, 2-1, at 6:29 when Paul Thompson (Derry, N.H.) gathered the puck at center ice and streaked down the right side of the ice to set up Mike Sislo (Superior, Wis.). Thompson skated behind the net where he eventually dished the puck to the front of the net for Sislo, who slid the puck into the left side of the net. After an official review, it was ruled the puck was kicked into the net by Sislo and the goal was disallowed.
The best scoring chance of the second period for UNH came when Paul DeSimone (East Amherst, N.Y.) broke out of his defensive zone and connected with Sislo on a cross-ice saucer pass to the right blueline. Sislo, who was 1-on-0, cut to the middle of the ice and ripped a low shot to the right side of the net that Miami goaltender Cody Reichard (24 saves) thwarted with his pads and kicked away to the right corner.
Reichard ruined another UNH bid with 2:11 remaining in the middle period after Mike Borisenok (Watervliet, N.Y.) fed Stevie Moses (Leominster, Mass.) on the doorstep. Moses cut back and attempted to jam the puck past the goaltender, but Reichard used his pads to stuff the opportunity and keep the game tied.
The Wildcats eventually did go on top, 2-1, just 39 seconds into the third period when Blake Kessel (Verona, Wis.) threaded a pass from the top of the right circle to the left post, where Sislo finished off the play as he swept the puck behind Reichard into the back of the net.
UNH nearly added an insurance goal just over two minutes later when DeSimone drove the puck to the bottom of the left circle before dropping it back to the right of the slot for Thompson, who had a clear shot at the open net, but Hirschfeld stepped up and blocked the shot with his shin to keep it a 2-1 game.
The Wildcats finally did add the insurance goal off an empty-net tally from Goumas with 1:25 remaining.
Miami called time out at that point and pulled Reichard in favor of an extra skater nine seconds later. The RedHawks were unable to sustain pressure in the offensive zone, however, as UNH's team defensive effort secured the victory.