CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. — The long-awaited battle between Boston College and New Hampshire had to wait two extra days due to the Blizzard of 2005, and in the end, little was decided as the two clubs skated to a 2-2 tie at BC’s Conte Forum Monday.
Taking the ice just hours after moving to the No. 1 in the USCHO.com/CSTV rankings, Boston College was unable to hold a 2-1 third-period lead for the first time this season, as Preston Callander’s goal 2:50 into the third turned out the be the last one of the night, despite the two clubs combining for 67 shots.
“It was an exciting game to coach,” said BC head coach Jerry York. “There are great players on both teams and both goaltenders played very well.”
Indeed, both netminders were tested throughout, with BC’s Matti Kaltiainen making 22 stops, many of the high-quality variety, and UNH’s Jeff Pietrasiak countering with 41 saves of his own.
“Both goalies hung in there and made some big saves,” said UNH coach Dick Umile, whose club moved to 9-1-2 in league play and sits just two points behind Boston College with two games in hand. “Both teams had some great chances in the third period and in the overtime, for that matter.”
Pacing the Boston College offense was its power play, which has scored on 15 of 64 chances since the holiday break, and was 2-for-5 Monday night.
“We talk a lot about synergy, that all five guys have to be together [on the power play],” said York. “I thought we had that tonight. We played as a group.”
BC controlled the pace and the play in the early going and thanks to a couple of New Hampshire penalties got on the board first. Brian Boyle redirected Ryan Shannon’s shot from the point through the legs of Pietrasiak to give the Eagles a 1-0 lead at 7:17.
At one point in the first period, BC enjoyed an 11-3 shot advantage but later in the frame New Hampshire drew even thanks to grinding work by forward Daniel Winnik. After being stoned by Kaltiainen on a good bid in front, Winnik found open space in the slot and one-timed a pass from Justin Aikins past Kaltiainen to even the score at 15 minutes even.
A barrage of late penalties gave both teams power-play chances, but the inability of either to capitalize left the game tied at 1 through 20 minutes.
The second period began much like the first with BC controlling play. This time, though, the Eagles never relinquished control, outshooting UNH, 15-6. Still, thanks mostly to Pietrasiak, who at times looked Dominic Hasek-esque, BC only had one goal to show for it.
The tally came again on the power play. This time it was Andrew Alberts connecting on a one-timer from the top of the right faceoff circle that found room on the far side to give the Eagles a 2-1 lead at 10:52.
BC had numerous chances to extend that lead, including a brilliant flurry brought on by Ryan Murphy. Murphy busted in on the left-wing side and fired a shot on Pietrasiak. He attempted to carry the rebound around the fallen goalie but Pietrasiak regained his balance for a second stop. Then, with his back turned to Murphy, Pietrasiak used his left leg to stop a third chance to keep the Wildcats within a goal heading to the third.
That margin proved not to be enough for BC, as in the third, New Hampshire came out firing, and 2:50 in, evened the game. Callander wheeled from behind the net to the left post, turned and floated a harmless-looking shot along the ice on Kaltiainen. The shot, though, caught Kaltiainen moving upward and snuck inside the near post to knot the game at two.
Both teams had ample opportunities to score the deciding goal, but none was better than BC’s bid by Dave Spina with four minutes remaining. Spina buzzed into the UNH zone and made two NHL-like moves around defenders. Using the UNH defenseman as a screen, he backhanded a shot onto a seemingly open net, but the lack of mustard on the bid gave UNH’s Brian Yandle enough time to stop the rolling puck on the goal line for a whistle, and ultimately sending the game to overtime.
In the overtime, neither team seemed willing to give up much defensively, but with a little more than a minute remaining, UNH’s Sean Collins got behind the BC defense for a breakaway. Collins was caught by BC defenseman Peter Harrold, though, and unable to get a shot on a fallen Kaltiainen.
BC immediately countered with a 3-on-2 of its own, with Alberts looking for his second of the game. His slapshot from the top of the circles went right into the breadbasket of Pietrasiak.
The game leaves Boston College two points ahead of New Hampshire, and three points ahead of Boston University and Maine. The Eagles will return to action this Friday when they play a home-and-home series with Massachusetts, the opener of which will be at Kelley Rink on Friday.
New Hampshire will play a two-game set with red-hot Massachusetts-Lowell, beginning Friday night in Lowell.