Chestnut Hill, MA- The University of New Hampshire Wildcats pulled out a gritty overtime win over the Boston College Eagles at Conte Forum on Friday night. Defenseman Kalle Erikkson banged home a rebound at the side of the BC net with :26 seconds left in extra time.
Eagles defenseman Tim Lovell kicked off the game, and his NCAA career, with a Hooking penalty at :56 seconds. BC’s penalty kill kept the Wildcats from setting up more of an attack.
The two teams traded power plays. UNH at 6:12 when Eagles forward Colby Ambrosio was sent off for Interference. BC’s chance came at 8:14 when senior Eric MacAdams was whistled for Hooking.
Speedy forward Kohei Sato put the Wildcats in front 1-0 when he fired off a snap-shot just above the right face-off dot on a two on one break. Sato kept the puck and beat BC goalie Henry Wilder (31 saves) for his first goal of the season. MacAdams and Nikolai Jensen assisted.
UNH junior Filip Engaras was called for High Sticking at 14:45. BC wasted little time tying the game on the man advantage. Ambrosio fired off a one-timer in front of the Wildcats net. The freshman from Welland, Ontario capped off a tic-tac-toe display of passing with returning World Junior Championship returnees Alex Newhook (Silver, Team Canada), Matt Boldy (Gold, Team USA), and Drew Helleson (Gold). Not a bad power-play unit at all… The goal at 14:59 was Ambrosio’s fifth in seven career games.
The Wildcats took even less time to pull ahead. 10 seconds later MacAdams corraled a Sato pass in front of Wilder, put the move on the freshman goalie, and made it 2-1. MacAdams first of the year was a tad bit fortuitous as Eagles defenseman Michael Karow buried Cam Gendron who was to receive the Sato pass. Instead, it carried on to a wide-open MacAdams who made it count.
In the second period, each team created a few good looks in back and forth action, but Wilder and his counterpart Mike Robinson (35 saves) were up to the task.
BC tied the game at 2-2 on a snipe from Nikita Nesterenko at 18:11. The freshman from Brooklyn caught a cross-ice pass from Helleson, high to low, at the bottom of the left circle and deposited the puck top corner over the shoulder of Robinson. Helleson and Marshall Warren assisted on Nesterenko’s fourth of the season.
The Eagles took a 3-2 lead at 2:49 of the third. Strong offensive zone play led to Patrick Giles banging home a rebound at the side of the UNH goal. Freshmen Trevor Kuntar and Eamon Powell notched the assists.
New Hampshire’s Carsen Richels was sent off for Slashing at 6:00 but it was the Wildcats penalty kill that took advantage of the situation. With four BC skaters down low in the offensive zone, the Wildcats pounced. Junior Tyler Ward and Engaras took off on a two on one against defenseman Jack St. Ivany. Ward feathered a saucer pass over the stick of St. Ivany and Engaras tapped the puck past a lunging Wilder.
Overtime was a three on three affair as Hockey East changed to the new format for this season. Both sides had quality puck possession in the extra period. But a Too Many Men On The Ice Call against the Eagles at 3:50 gave the Wildcats the four on three for the remainder of overtime. That’s when the sophomore Eriksson struck. UNH moved the puck along the perimeter trying to set up a clean shot. Patrick Grasso found Jackson Pierson for that shot but Wilder made the initial stop. The rebound caromed to a creeping Eriksson who then set off a celebration behind the BC goal.
“Obviously, very proud of our team,” said Wildcats Head Coach Mike Souza. “We go down score a huge shorthanded goal. It was a good character win. Everyone contributed tonight, which is always great as a coach. We got a solid performance from our goaltender. And special teams came through tonight when they had to.”
“I thought it was a pretty good hockey game,” said BC Head Coach Jerry York. “We started out a little slow. We’ve been off about a month. As the game went on I thought we got better and better.”
“Clearly, that shorthanded goal against us late in the third period that tied it, we’ll have to fix that situation,” added York. “And then a mental mistake, we had the Too Many Men on the Ice penalty. We had a player coming off the ice, and once you start to come off you have to commit to it, but he saw some danger and he turned a tried to help out. That’s what happened there.”
The two teams square off again on Sunday at the Whittemore Center on the UNH campus. Puck drop is at 4:00 pm.