After falling to No. 8 UMass last Wednesday night, the University of New Hampshire men’s hockey team set their attention to the No. 2 Boston College Eagles. The Wildcats got back to their winning ways, splitting the weekend 1-1.
The Wildcats opened up the weekend traveling to Chestnut Hill to battle the talented Eagles. Entering the game, BC was 5-1 and a powerhouse in the Hockey East, but hadn’t played a game in 28 days.
UNH jumped out to an early lead when senior forward Kohei Sato fired a shot past the BC goaltender with 10 minutes still remaining in the period. The Eagles tied the game on their powerplay off of a one-timer from first-year forward Colby Ambrosio.
It didn’t take long for the ‘Cats to answer, however, just nine seconds later senior forward Eric MacAdams got a breakaway chance on first-year BC goaltender Henry Wilder which he put in the back of the net to give UNH the lead once more. The Wildcats went on to outshoot BC in an intense first period 14-11.
The second period belonged to BC as they controlled the pace, outshooting UNH 12-10 and tying the game up with a goal from first-year forward Nikita Nesterenko.
BC gained the lead shortly into the third period when Patrick Giles buried a rebound past senior goaltender Mike Robinson.
The Wildcats didn’t quit in this game and came back down the ice to tie the game 3-3 with a shorthanded goal from junior forward Filip Engaras as he and junior Tyler Ward broke in on a two-on-one and manipulated the defense perfectly.
Neither team found the back of the net again in regulation and the game went into overtime. UNH went onto the powerplay with just 1:10 remaining in overtime. It was just enough time as sophomore defenseman Kalle Eriksson buried a one-timer to win the game. Robinson was the star of this game making 35 saves against a talented BC roster.
Head coach Mike Souza had nothing but praise for how his team competed and played BC tough.
“Obviously very proud of our team,” Souza said. “Everyone contributed tonight and we got a really solid performance from our goaltender.”
Coach Souza went on to mention the game-winning goal scored by Eriksson.
“We knew what we had in Kalle, we loved him when we started recruiting him. We think he’s continuing to grow as a player, and we expect great things from him moving forward,” explained Souza.
The weekend didn’t end there though, as UNH and BC would travel to Durham to face-off once more in the Whittemore Center.
Seeking revenge, BC brought the pressure early in this game, but Robinson was able to keep them off the scoresheet for most of the first period. BC eventually broke through with a goal from junior forward Casey Carreau.
UNH got an opportunity from a five-minute major leading to a powerplay after BC sophomore Mitch Andres got called for boarding. The Wildcats were unable to capitalize on the opportunity and entered the second period down one.
The Eagles’ lead didn’t last long into the second period, however, as junior forward Angus Crookshank fired a puck into the back of the net knotting the game at one. BC answered with a goal of their own from sophomore forward Mike Hardman.
UNH never let this one get away from them though as senior forward Patrick Grasso ripped a one-timer past sophomore goaltender Spencer Knight tying the game at two. The score didn’t change again during regulation and the game moved into overtime once again.
UNH went on the powerplay in overtime and looked to end it like they did the night before. The story took a twist as BC ended up scoring a shorthanded goal from junior forward Marc McLaughlin. Robinson made 23 saves on the day while recent gold medal winner Knight totaled 27.
Souza was proud of how his team competed all weekend against one of the top teams in the nation.
“I thought our team showed a lot of character all weekend,” Souza said. “Obviously, a disappointing end but [BC] is a heck of a hockey team. I thought it was a huge step for our team this weekend. I’m proud of our players, I thought they competed hard.”
He went on to add, “It’s disappointing to lose the game in overtime on the powerplay. That goes without saying. We just didn’t manage the puck well when we needed to at the end.”
UNH will now look ahead to Northeastern but Souza had one last message for his team ahead of that matchup.
“There was a lot of positives from this weekend. [BC] is the No. 2 team in the country and we beat them in their building and brought them to overtime here. I hope the guys realize they can play with anyone, because they can.”
UNH moves to a 3-4-1 record and will travel to Matthews Arena as they will face off against Northeastern University on Wednesday, Jan. 13.
Photo Courtesy of Jack Quackenbos