MILWAUKEE — In case there were any Hobey Baker Award voters in the Bradley Center on Thursday, Darren Haydar put on a show.
The New Hampshire forward scored a goal and assisted on two others, and the Wildcats scored four goals in the third period to defeat Colorado College 6-2 in the first round of the Bank One Badger Hockey Showdown.
Haydar scored a third-period goal that helped cement the victory for the Wildcats, who will play Brown in the championship game at 8:05 p.m. Central on Friday. A few minutes after Lanny Gare scored on the power play to give UNH a 3-2 lead, Haydar’s stellar individual effort pushed the lead to two.
The senior won the puck in a battle behind the net, weaved his way out in front and banked the puck into the net off the pads of CC goaltender Jeff Sanger (27 saves).
“He’s done that before,” UNH coach Dick Umile said. “I know what he’s doing on that. He’s played it off a goalie’s pad, skate, back. The kid’s in complete control of what he’s doing in one-on-one.
“There’s no doubt in my mind he’s an all-American out East. He’s one of the best players I’ve ever coached at UNH. I’m not saying he’s better than Jason Krog or Mark Mowers, but one-on-one, he’s one of the most clever hockey players I’ve ever coached.”
The Wildcats (12-3-2) scored three of their goals on odd-man rushes. Sanger was left to fend for himself for much of the third period, when the Tigers (9-7-1) tried to press things on offense.
Needless to say, it backfired.
“We took ridiculous chances on our (defensive) corps, which we never do,” CC coach Scott Owens said. “We give them chances and they score.”
Colin Stuart scored his third goal in two games to stake CC to a 1-0 lead in the first period. After Sean Collins equalized on a power play nine seconds into the second, Peter Sejna gave the Tigers a 2-1 lead with a bullet of a wrist shot from the slot that beat UNH goaltender Matt Carney (39 saves).
But the game turned on Justin Aikins’ second goal of the season, one that brought UNH into a 2-2 tie at the 13-minute mark of the second period.
David Busch stole the puck from CC forward Tyler Liebel in the neutral zone, creating a 2-on-1 rush. Busch fed Aikins for a redirection past Sanger.
It was all downhill from there for the Tigers. The scoring touch that looked promising early in the game disappeared.
“This is a very typical game for us,” Owens said. “We played pretty well, we generated a fair amount of opportunities and shots, but they don’t go in the net. We just don’t have a lot of finish.”
CC, which entered the game with the nation’s best penalty kill, allowed two power-play goals for the first time this season. The Tigers have given up five power-play goals in their last five games.