Chestnut Hill, MA – The #1 Boston College Eagles hosted the unranked University of New Hampshire Wildcats in the Quarter-Final round of the Hockey East Tournament on Sunday afternoon. The two teams split their regular season match-up by winning in overtime on the other team’s ice. This game didn’t have the extra time, but it had all the feeling of it. Three first-period BC goals didn’t deter the WIldcats from trying to extend their season as they answered with two in the second but were unable to notch a tying goal as they fought right down to the buzzer.
A Hooking call on Boston College’s Danny Weight gave the Wildcats the first power-play at 4:22. Unfortunately, a Too Many Men on the Ice call against UNH negated the man-advantage. BC took advantage of the extra ice on the resulting four on four.
Wildcat goalie Mike Robinson (33 saves) thought an icing call was forthcoming. When it wasn’t, it was too late as Alex Newhook caught the carom off the end boards and fired the puck between Robinson’s legs for the 1-0 Eagles lead at 5:35. Matt Boldy and Drew Helleson assisted on Newhook’s fifth goal of the year.
BC built on that lead at 7:30 when sophomore Mike Hardman banged home a rebound of an Eamon Powell shot from the blue line. The goal was Hardman’s ninth of the year. Boldy assisted on the goal as well.
Less than a minute later, freshman Nikita Nesterenko made it 3-0 Eagles when he one-timed a shot past Robinson. Colby Ambrosio dished from the corner to a wide-open Nesterenko for his eighth goal.
Despite the scoreboard, the Wildcats fought hard all period. BC outshot UNH 14-9 for the period.
UNH came out flying to start the second period, but a Too Many Men on the Ice call hampered their momentum once again. The Wildcats killed off the BC power-play.
Senior Eric MacAdams put the Wildcats on the board at 6:22 when he snapped a shot from the top of the right circle past Spencer Knight (35 saves). Kohei Sato and Ryan Verrier assisted on MacAdams’ fifth goal of the year.
Thirty seconds later, the Wildcats struck again to make it 3-2. This time it was freshman defenseman Luke Reid who capitalized by beating Knight from nearly the same spot as MacAdams, who assisted on this goal with Cam Gendron.
UNH continued to pressure the Eagles for most of the remaining period and a half but could not solve Knight to tie the game. The Wildcats pulled Robinson with roughly a minute to go, but BC was strong on the puck in their own end. UNH outshot the Eagles 37-36 overall.
The Wildcats finish their season 6-14-3. The Eagles, meanwhile, advance to host UMass-Lowell on Wednesday at 4:30 pm.
“We never thought we were playing poorly,” said UNH coach Mike Souza. “I think the scoring chances, by our count, were even after one (period). So we just said, ‘Hey, Fellas, there’s nothing we can do. It’s 3-0. Just trust the process.'”
And the team responded to that. Souza felt that this team has building blocks to work with as they head into the off-season.
“New Hampshire and ourselves have played a number of games that have been right to the wire here,” said BC coach Jerry York. “This was a typical game. We played two OTs already this year, and I think even going back to last year was all one-goal games.”
“I thought we defended extremely well when the goaltender was pulled. We didn’t give up a ton of chances there,” said York. “We scored three goals; now we’re going to test New Hampshire’s will. They came right back in the second period and made it a 3-2 game. They kept it tight right throughout the third period.”