BOSTON, Mass. — It is clich, but appropriate, when talking about New Hampshire and Boston University; the more things change, the more that they stay the same.
With new teams and new lineups, the first meeting of the 2001-02 season between these clubs ended just as half of the last 12 — in a tie.
UNH’s Colin Hemingway and BU’s Frantisek Skladany scored 59 seconds apart in the third period, while goaltender Matt Carney (28 saves) for UNH and Sean Fields (37 saves) for BU stole the show in a 1-1 tie Sunday night at Walter Brown Arena.
Seven of the last 12 meeting between UNH and BU have gone into overtime, with the only win coming for UNH in a game that had to have a winner — the 1998 NCAA East Regional final.
“I think I told our radio guys before the game that looking back at the last nine games between these two teams, the record is 3-3-3,” said UNH coach Dick Umile. “So it’s no surprise that nothing changed tonight.”
It was the first time in five games for the Terriers this season that they were outshot, thanks mostly to an explosive first half of the game for New Hampshire that forced Fields to show his mettle.
“We were lucky to get out of the first half of the game,” said BU coach Jack Parker. “From the opening faceoff on, they dominated play and territory as well. We were legless the first half of the game.”
But similar to Friday’s game against Northeastern when BU fought back from a 2-0 deficit despite controlling play, the Terriers rebounded to balance the attack in the final 30 minutes, even dominating the play in the first 10 minutes of the third period.
“As the game progressed, I thought we started to pick up our legs a little bit,” said Parker, “and as the second and third periods progressed, I thought things started to even out a bit as far as opportunities.”
It wasn’t until 9:26 of the third period that either team broke through the deadlock, as Hemingway snuck a shot past Fields after beating the BU defense.
“I was busting down the wing and Lanny Gare made a great outlet pass to me,” said Hemingway. “I got a step on [BU forward Freddy] Meyer. As soon as I knew, I was on top of the net, and I just made a quick move left to bang [the shot] home.”
But similar to the resilience that was shown by the Terriers in overcoming UNH’s early edge, BU came back just 59 seconds later to even the game.
Skladany, who has been a breakthrough player for the Terriers this season — scoring four goals in five games and equaling, already, his goal total from last year — finished off a give-and-go with Gregg Johnson. Moving to the left post, Skladany took the pass that Johnson feathered through the goal crease to knot the game at one and send the World-Series-depleted crowd of 3,233 to its feet.
“Last year was a real adjustment for Frantisek,” said Parker of his sophomore winger from Slovakia. “He was young coming here, but he’s gotten a lot stronger and [strength coach] Mike Boyle has made him a lot better skating-wise. He’s been a huge jump for us.”
With the scoring now out of the way, it was time for the goaltenders to take over the game. Both had been tested throughout, Fields seeing the tougher shots, including two breakaways in the first two periods. But the closing seconds, along with overtime, would prove to be the highlight reel for each.
Fields started the exchange, making a game-saving stop on a Jim Abbott slapshot as the third period horn sounded. With the faceoff to Fields’ right with 2.7 seconds left, UNH pushed it over to the far point where Abbott teed up a one-timer destined for the top corner. But, as he did throughout the game, Fields flashed his quick glove.
“I was expecting that the clock would run out,” said Fields, “but it was a long two seconds.”
Late in overtime, his counterpart, Carney, would execute a robbery of his own, stopping Terrier co-captain Mike Pandolfo on the doorstep.
“[BU's Brian McConnell] was coming down the right-hand side and I just laid down to take away the five-hole,” said Carney, still sporting tape on his left wrist with the words “BU-win-focus” written in marker. “The shot hit my pads and I saw it go out into the slot. I knew [Pandolfo] would try to go over me so the only thing I could put up was my leg. Then I realized that I might actually have a chance and it did hit me.”
Those two were the only shots by either team in overtime, finalizing the shots at 38-29 in favor of the Wildcats.
The tie keeps UNH (3-1-2, 2-0-2 Hockey East) one point ahead of BU (4-0-1, 2-0-1) for the top spot in the conference, and keeps both Carney (2-0-2) and Fields (4-0-1) unbeaten on the year.
A third period hit to UNH’s Pat Foley is reported to have dislocated his right shoulder, and according to Umile, he will miss 4-6 weeks.