MANCHESTER, N.H. — Daniel Winnik’s first collegiate hat trick propelled New Hampshire to a 4-3 win over Boston University in front of 9,075 fans at the Verizon Wireless Arena. Winnik scored in each period with his third proving to be the game-winner.
“He’s a real smart hockey player,” said UNH coach Dick Umile. “When he initiates [the action], he’s really good. We talked to him last week. He was waiting for things to happen and not initiating it. Tonight he initiated it and it paid dividends for him.”
The game-winner came after BU tied the score early in the third on a Brian McConnell goal. Winnik broke to the net and Brett Hemingway hit him with a pass from the right boards.
“Hemingway stripped the defenseman of the puck and it was a great saucer pass to me and I put it in the empty net,” said Winnik, a sophomore. “It was a great play by Hemingway.”
Not surprisingly, the view of the goal from the BU bench was a different one.
“We had complete control behind the net and bobbled it, bobbled it and bobbled it,” said BU coach Jack Parker. “We finally got it to the left wing and he’s got complete control with nobody near him and he passed it to their guy who walks in and scores.
“I was very disappointed with how we played with the puck in our own zone. We turned the puck over on three different occasions to give them goals. It was unbelievable the guys who made those turnovers. Shocking.”
Both sides will be without a key player for its next game. New Hampshire (4-1-1, 1-0-0 HEA) travels to Maine on Sunday when it will be without defenseman Brian Yandle, who was assessed a game disqualification for spearing after the final buzzer. Boston University (3-3-0, 2-1-0 HEA) will be without Brian McConnell, whose DQ for hitting from behind came in a post-game tussle with Yandle. The Terriers are off until next Friday when they host Merrimack as the opener to a home-and-home series.
“I’ve only seen our club on the road three times and I haven’t liked what I’ve seen,” said Parker. “I certainly didn’t like what I saw tonight in our discipline and our poise. We took a step back today.
“We certainly didn’t have all eighteen of our skaters giving us what we need. We probably had twelve of them. When you have six guys who are out to lunch, that’s going to kill you.”
Although the first period would end with the two teams tied, 2-2, with all goals coming on the power play, Boston University held a decided edge in territorial play, particularly in the early going. Nonetheless, it appeared for a time that the contest would mirror that of a football game in which a team controls the ball, but can’t capitalize in the red zone.
The Terriers kept UNH penned in its own zone early, but instead it would be the Wildcats that struck first. After killing off their first penalty, they needed only eight seconds on the power play to get on the scoreboard. From the right boards, Sean Collins’ pass into the faceoff circle missed its mark, but went through to Hemingway in the lower left slot where he one-timed it for his fifth goal of the year.
BU retaliated with two power-plays goals in the span of just 53 seconds, the first coming at 13:04. With a five-on-three advantage, BU controlled a center ice faceoff and Chris Bourque carried the puck over the blue line, ripping a slapshot past Jeff Pietrasiak. Bourque’s goal was the first of his collegiate career.
On the resulting five-on-four, the Terriers took a 2-1 lead when John Laliberte scored a sharp-angle goal from the bottom of the faceoff circle, beating Pietrasiak high to the short side.
UNH, which could count Hemingway’s goal as its only shot in the opening 10 minutes, got the offense in gear on the power play with Winnik scoring at 16:23 from the doorstep.
The period ended with BU holding a 13-7 shot advantage after outattempting the Wildcats, 20-13. Winnik’s goal, however, had reversed the momentum in the Wildcats’ favor.
UNH turned the statistical tables in the second period, dominating BU in attempts, 23-8, and shots 13-3. The Wildcats also seized the lead on the first even-strength goal of the game, although it didn’t come until 16:04 of the stanza. Within the offensive zone, Michael Hutchins broke in with Winnik two-on-one. The sophomore defenseman got the BU defender to commit and slid the puck to the night’s offensive star and Winnik buried his third of the season and second of the night.
Pietrasiak, who hadn’t been a pillar of defensive strength on the two goals allowed, came up big in the closing minutes of the period, foiling McConnell on a partial breakaway.
UNH opened the third on the power play, and Prestin Callander almost made it a two-goal margin with a clanged post. Instead, BU evened the score at 2:48. Laliberte slid the puck into the slot and McConnell beat the UNH defenders to it before burying it for his second goal of the year.
Winnik got the game-winner at 8:32, redirecting the pass from Hemingway.
The action, however, was far from over. BU went on a power play only to see Sean Collins take off on a shorthanded breakaway that would have all but clinched the win. BU goalie John Curry, however, made one of his 23 saves to keep his team in striking distance.
That striking distance almost became another tie with four minutes remaining, but a terrific glove save by Pietrasiak on David Van der Gulik atoned for the earlier soft goals. Finally, with 2:24 remaining, BU went on another power play to all but finish out the game with the man advantage. The Terriers, however, could not muster the equalizer.