Durham NH - UNH responded well after a 5 -2 loss on Friday night to the same Boston College team that they played on this night. The teams would play an even first period that saw BC leave with a 10-9 advantage in shots, but nothing to show for it and the teams tied at zero. The second period was much different however as BC freshman defender, Michael Matheson, would take two ill-advised penalties; first a hitting from behind two minute minor and then a contact to the head on a blindside hit as he exited the penalty box on his first penalty. UNH would then get a five on three power-play for two minutes midway through the five minute major. They sent shot after shot at Parker Milner but the BC goaltender stood tall and UNH wasted opportunities to take a 1-0 lead. 53 seconds after the penalties had expired, the Wildcats would get their revenge as Dan Correale faked a defender on a two on one and found Matt Willows all alone in front, where Willows gave New Hampshire the 1-0 lead with just 47 seconds left in the second period.
The third period was evenly played as Brooks Dyroff would tie the score at seven minutes, 57 seconds. UNH would get a late power-play on a Kevin Hayes tripping call and would capitalize. Justin Agosta took a one-timer from the point and John Henrion found the puck in front of the Eagle net and put it past Parker Milner to give UNH the late 2-1 lead with 4:48 remaining.
The Wildcats would hang on for the 2-1 win over Boston College sending home the sellout crowd of 6501 at the Whittemore Center home happy. The win improves New Hampshire to 14-4-2 and 9-3-1 in Hockey East, as Boston College fell to 13-4-2, 10-3-1. The win pulls UNH within two points of BC in the Hockey East standings with a game in hand and also pulls UNH into a tie with this same BC team and Quinnipiac for first in the Pairwise rankings.
What I Saw
- Boston College’s biggest advantage last night was their top two lines and in particularly Johnny Gaudreau. On this night though, UNH was much better with the puck along the walls and contained the Gaudreau line the whole game. Matchups are key in college hockey and being the home team gives a team an advantage. Gaudreau did have chances early in the game, but they became less numerous as the game went on, as UNH tightened up defensively especially against his line.
- BC struggled in the second period with discipline and the two penalties, including the five minute major and game misconduct, changed the complexion of the game. If the seven minutes straight of power-plays did one thing it tired out the Eagles. BC killed the five on three and the five minute major. But the shift after was the one that broke the momentum gained. On Friday night, BC used a penalty-kill in the first period to shift the game but on this night allowing a goal in the vulnerable minute after the power-play was the back-breaker that gave the momentum right back to UNH.
- The UNH power-play wasn’t bad on this night, they got countless opportunities on the five minute major power-play and five on three. In the second period, which included nine minutes of power-play time and the five on three, the Wildcats sent 39 shot attempts at the BC net and had 15 Grade A opportunities. They were unable to finish these opportunities and the power-play was left shaking its head as Parker Milner sent shot after shot back into the zone. Interestingly enough UNH would get redemption late in the third as the power-play made quick work and John Henrion would score the game winner on the man advantage.
What I Thought
- The momentum swing that occurred when Matt Willows scored late in the second was one that BC would like to have back. A goal in the last minute of a period is bad enough, but one that occurred in the vulnerable minute after killing nine minutes of power-play time is one that is inexcusable. Fortunately for Boston College goals like this hardly happen, but the penalty-killing should have changed the momentum in their favor going into the third, instead the game turned in a way BC would have liked to avoid.
- The difference on this night for UNH was its defense. This was the first time since the first half that the defense has played this good and it was a complete 360 degree turn from the way it played the night before. When a mistake was made their sticks were all over the puck and Desmith was on his game for the first time since a Colorado road trip. Holding a high-powered BC team to just one goal is a big accomplishment for them. This defense is what brought them to the strong first half, and if tonight was any indication it may be back to stay.
What They Said
Boston College Associate Coach Mike Cavanaugh said,
“It was probably a fun game for the fans to watch. I thought New Hampshire played extremely well. They were skating well and playing with purpose but I was very proud of our guys as well. we killed a lot of penalties in the second period and I felt we played our best period in the third period. We were able to tie the game up but they would score the late power-play goal. It was two good hockey teams out there tonight.”
UNH Coach Dick Umile said,
“We competed much harder defensively tonight than we did last night”
“It was a quick turnaround for us but it was a long day. It is important to get right back at it the next day. We played at a high pace and put a lot of pressure on them. As it was it was a one goal game. They are very good.”
UNH forward John Henrion said,
“We were a little bit angry after last night. When Playing a team like a split weekend is a pretty good weekend. They have had a lot of success lately. This was a must win I think for us to get at least two points out of the weekend. Everyone left it out there last night as we were very disappointed last night. Tonight obviously turns that around.”
What They Didn’t Say
Dick Umile did not mention timetables for the return of forwards Greg Burke and Nick Sorkin. On this night, they didn’t suffer without their two biggest forwards but going forward those two will have to be an integral part of this Wildcat team.
What Else You Should Know
Boston College returns to action next weekend with a pair of games. On Friday night they will host a UMass team coming off a sweep at the hands of Providence and on Saturday they will make the cross-town trip to play a struggling Northeastern team that defeated them early in the season.
UNH will return to action with a lone game against Providence College on Saturday. It will be their first look at freshman goaltending sensation Jon Gillies.