DURHAM, N.H. — For the second time in as many nights, New Hampshire found itself on the verge of a loss late in a game. And for the second time, the Wildcats found a way to salvage a point in the Hockey East standings.
Junior Preston Callander and freshman Brett Hemingway scored third-period goals as No. 10 New Hampshire rallied from a 3-1 deficit to tie Massachusetts-Lowell, 3-3, at the Whittemore Center, equaling the score from Friday’s contest at the Tsongas Arena. Callander also added two assists, as did freshman Jacob Micflikier.
New Hampshire ran its record to 16-10-5 (8-6-5 Hockey East), while UMass-Lowell left Durham at 8-18-6 (5-9-4 HE). With the two ties, along with the River Hawks’ 5-4 win on Nov. 25 at the Whittemore Center, UMass-Lowell won the season series from UNH for the first time since 1994-95.
“Well, we clearly had them right where we wanted them in the third period,” deadpanned Lowell coach Blaise MacDonald, a slight grin coming from his otherwise straight-faced demeanor.
The Wildcats outshot the River Hawks 9-1 in the third period.
“I’d like to know how they diagrammed that last (goal),” added MacDonald.
That “last goal” came at 6:19 of the third, and could arguably be the prettiest goal in years at the Whittemore Center.
Micflikier sent a home run pass from just inside the UMass-Lowell blue line. Fellow freshman Brett Hemingway, who had been going hard to the net, dove towards the crease and got just enough of the puck to put it past sophomore goaltender John Yaros to tie the score at 3-3. It appeared as if Hemingway tipped the puck out of midair for the icing on the cake.
“I just hope the Red Sox have some hitters this year who can hit baseballs out of the air the way they (UNH) hit that puck out of the air,” said MacDonald. “As an opposing coach, I almost applauded that last goal, which was a spectacular … spectacular goal.”
It was Hemingway’s seventh goal of the season.
“He threw it just past the defenseman,” said Hemingway of Micflikier’s pass. “I just wanted to get my stick on it. He threw it perfectly to me. I couldn’t tell you if (the puck) was in the air or not.
“We had them on their heels the whole third period. The way we were playing, we felt we deserved a win. It’s a little disappointing, but we still got a point out of it.”
The River Hawks scored all three of their goals with the man advantage, including two power-play tallies in the first period.
Just two minutes in, Wildcat-tamer Elias Godoy picked up where he left off Friday night by potting his 17th goal of the season, which tied him with sophomore Ben Walter for the team lead. Godoy scored two goals Friday night, and in his brief career, the sophomore has six against the Wildcats.
“I’ve seen enough of him (Godoy), that’s for sure,” quipped UNH coach Dick Umile. “He runs that backdoor play on the power play very well.”
Yaros, making his seventh start of the year, denied several good scoring chances by the Wildcats. He stopped Micflikier on a nice pass from freshman Dan Winnik with the left pad, and foiled a bid by junior Sean Collins. Later, on a UNH power play, Winnik tipped the puck while skating along the crease, but Yaros closed the wickets in time.
New Hampshire has been clicking on the power play all season. Coming into the weekend series with the River Hawks, the Wildcats had the fourth-best power play in the nation, adding to that Friday with a man-advantage tally.
Justin Aikins got things going for UNH on — yes — the power play. Aikins sent a rocket from the UMass-Lowell blue line that appeared to be tipped past Yaros, but Aikins was credited with his ninth goal of the year.
A little over two minutes later, however, the River Hawks took advantage of a UNH line change, forcing the play across the New Hampshire blue line. Freshman Jason Tejchma’s shot was stopped by senior netminder Michael Ayers, but sophomore Andrew Martin was trailing the play, and buried the puck into a wide-open net for his seventh goal of the year.
UMass-Lowell got its third power-play tally at 5:52 of the middle period. Despite not giving much room to shoot at, Ayers was beaten by Cleve Kinley to the upper corner, and suddenly it was a 3-1 River Hawks lead.
“We obviously did not do a good job on the penalty kill tonight,” said Umile.
Yaros again came up big, thwarting a breakaway effort by Ed Caron as well as bids by Aikins and Collins.
New Hampshire has owned the third period all year, however, and Saturday was no exception.
Just 49 seconds in Callander, himself on a scoring streak, scored his third goal in the last three games when he pounced on a rebound in front of Yaros to cut the deficit to 3-2.
“It was a nice play by my two linemates,” said the unassuming Callander. “Micflikier made an unbelievable move to get the goalie out of position, and I just tapped it in.”
“The way the guys responded in the third period was great,” said Umile. “The third (period) was as good a period as we’ve played all year.”
Both teams appeared to be winded during the overtime session, with neither club generating scoring chances.
“We have to say that we’re happy to get a tie,” said Callander. “But it’s not satisfying.”
UMass-Lowell takes on Hockey East-leading Boston College at Conte Forum on Friday at 7 p.m., while New Hampshire hosts Northeastern on Sunday at 4 p.m.