BOSTON — What a difference a second makes.
The New Hampshire Wildcats were one second away from a 4-3 victory. The Northeastern Huskies, however, had other plans.
Down 4-3 in the final minute, Northeastern captain Jim Fahey scored with one second left in regulation to send the game into overtime, and Jason Guerriero tipped home a slapshot by Fahey in OT at 2:01 as Northeastern (17-11-3, 10-7-2 HEA) defeated the No. 3 Wildcats (20-6-3, 12-4-3 HEA) after an amazing comeback.
Guerriero scored two goals and Fahey, Leon Hayward and Chris Lynch had two points each for the Huskies while Lanny Gare added two assists for the Wildcats.
Said Northeastern coach Bruce Crowder, “Awesome.”
“We played a real great game tonight,” said UNH coach Dick Umile. “One bounce of the puck and we lose the game.”
The Wildcats got the advantage early at 2:13 with Mike Ryan in the box for slashing. UNH boasts Hockey East best power play, at a staggering 29.2% success rate. The Huskies, however, shut down UNH with strong forechecking.
The first period saw several opportunities for both teams. The pace was quick, with both squads making the passes. Shots were even at nine apiece.
At 11:00 of the first, David Busch found himself on the Northeastern’s blue line with only Keni Gibson between him and the back of the net. It was the post that kept the Wildcats from notching the first goal of the game.
At 13:13 UNH’s Garrett Stafford put home a wrist shot from the top of the right faceoff circle, beating Gibson between the pad and the post. The play developed after Northeastern iced the puck, giving UNH the faceoff in its offensive zone.
Less than a minute later Guerriero sent a lazy slapshot from the blue line in on UNH netminder Matt Carney that found its way between his arm and chest. Willie Levesque assisted on the goal in his first game back from a broken finger.
At 17:11, solid forechecking paid off for Northeastern’s line of Hayward, Reschny and Tudrick as Reschny received a pass from Tudrick all alone in front of Carney and beat him for his fourth goal of the season.
“Those guys were the three stars of the game,” said Fahey. “Those kids are starting to get some attention and rightfully so. Any time you shut down the top scorer in the country [Darren Haydar], it’s a good night.”
Scoring ended in the first with the Huskies on top, 2-1.
UNH picked up play in the second, with a flurry of chances on Gibson in the opening minutes. Keni Gibson made two spectacular saves to deny UNH.
Said Crowder, “Keni Gibson’s saves were incredible. Some of the most amazing saves I’ve seen out of him, and it kept us in the hunt.”
Despite the great play by Gibson, UNH made the score 2-2 after a slot pass to Nathan Martz at 11:09 beat Gibson on the far side.
At 12:28 the crowd fell silent as UNH’s David Busch hit the ice unmoving. After some time he managed to get up and was helped off the ice. No penalty was called, drawing the ire of the UNH contingent — which with a solid memory, recalled that it was referee Conrad Hache who also did not call a penalty in the game in which goaltender Matt Carney received a concussion.
Surprisingly, Busch returned in the third after being knocked unconscious.
UNH received a bench minor for too many men on the ice at 19:11 to end the second. While Northeastern failed to capitalize in the second, the Huskies started the third with the man advantage. The opportunity proved fruitful as Northeastern’s Chris Lynch scored at :48 of the third, beating Carney after a UNH defenseman had fallen in the attempt to clear the puck.
In back-and-forth action, UNH’s Tyler Scott scored at 12:36, knotting the score for the third time in the game. The goal was Scott’s first of his career.
UNH recaptured the lead at 6:18 after Northeastern failed to clear the zone. Colin Hemingway throw a lazy shot at a screened Gibson for the tally.
Northeastern had several opportunities in the waning minutes of the third period as Levesque had a wide open net and hit Carney in the head as he was on the ground.
In a bizarre call, Northeastern’s Mike Ryan picked up a 10-minute misconduct at 15:52, for shooting a puck slightly after the offside whistle was blown.
“Hache said that I fired it too late and felt that it was on net,” said Northeastern’s Ryan. “I was in my windup when the whistle was blown and shot it clearly over the net.”
Seconds later Northeastern received a bench minor and went down a man with less than five minutes remaining in the game. But despite losing Ryan and being down a man for the last five minutes, Northeastern persevered.
“Give them credit,” said Umile. “They came hard and that was the difference.”
It was all Northeastern in the extra session. The Huskies fired three shots on Carney before Fahey ripped a slapshot from the blue line, and Guerriero deflect the puck for the comeback.
“I just happened to be in the right place at the right time,” said Guerriero. “Could have been anyone, I was just lucky to be there.
Saturday, Northeastern will head up to UNH for the second game of the home-and-home series. Game time has been changed to 6 p.m.