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College Hockey:
UNH Rallies to Eliminate Harvard in Overtime

Winnik's Goal Prolongs Crimson's NCAA Misery

— Sophomore Daniel Winnik scored 15:06 into overtime to give the New Hampshire Wildcats a come-from-behind 3-2 victory over the Harvard Crimson in their NCAA Northeast Regional semifinal.

With the win, UNH (26-10-5) moves on to play Denver — victorious over Bemidji State earlier in the day — in Sunday’s regional final.

“I don’t think I’ve scored an overtime goal in a while,” admitted Winnik, “especially one this big. It was a great thrill.”

ncaa unh hu 032605 celebrate UNH Rallies to Eliminate Harvard in Overtime

Jacob Micflikier (l.) celebrates Daniel Winnik’s OT goal with Winnik (r.) and Chris Murray (photo: Josh Gibney).

“It was an exciting game,” said UNH head coach Dick Umile. “We look forward to our matchup with Denver tomorrow.”

For the Crimson (21-10-3), the loss ended the season and marked the fourth consecutive year that Harvard has fallen to a Hockey East opponent in the opening round of the NCAA tournament. Of the five programs to have made the national tournament the last four years — UNH, Harvard, Maine, Minnesota and Michigan — only the Crimson have failed to win a game.

“I thought it was a very well-played hockey game,” said Harvard head coach Ted Donato. “We’re a very good team and I’m very proud of my guys. I thought we battled and we had our chances to win the game and I told our guys to be proud of the effort and to keep their heads up.”

Harvard came out strong right from the opening faceoff and took a 1-0 lead midway through the first period thanks to the sophomore combination of Ryan Maki and Kevin Du.

With the teams skating four-on-four, Maki and Du had control of the puck though the Mullins Center’s small neutral zone. When Du fed his classmate with a pass across the New Hampshire blueline, Maki faked a shot then wristed the disc between two defenders and by Wildcat netminder Kevin Regan at 9:26.

UNH began to turn the game around in the second period, outshooting Harvard 17-9, but could only match the Crimson’s production.

As has often been the case this season, it was only a matter of time before the Wildcats’ top point producer, Sean Collins, made his presence felt. Just 29 seconds into a UNH power play, senior defenseman Tyson Teplitsky found Collins in the high slot with a pass that his classmate quickly wristed by Harvard netminder Dov Grumet-Morris at 7:35.

“They are a very dangerous team,” said Donato. “Every time you put them on the power play is like playing Russian roulette.”

But the game’s momentum shift to UNH was short-lived as the Crimson regained the lead eight seconds later.

Freshman Tyler Magura dumped an innocent shot on Regan from the top of the right circle that was stopped, but the rebound bounced out to the left of the netminder. That’s where Harvard rookie Alex Meintel, playing in only his 10th collegiate game, and a UNH defender converged on the puck. Meintel, with his back to Regan, backhanded the puck over the goalie’s shoulder and just under the crossbar for his first tally.

The Crimson took that 2-1 lead into the final frame with thoughts of previous late-game collapses in the NCAA tournament on the minds of many in attendance. In the last two years, Harvard has been outscored 7-1 in the third periods of NCAA regional semifinal games.

UNH, despite being outshot 13-12, added to the Crimson’s misery, scoring just 3:44 into the stanza and applying intense pressure for the full period.

The Wildcats’ tying goal came while on the power play seconds after Grumet-Morris had poked a dangerous loose puck out of the slot. He tried it again after a Collins shot, but was left exposed when the puck came out to Preston Callander, who slipped it by the netminder for his team-leading 25th goal of the year.

“We tried to keep it simple by getting it in the zone and down low and not turning it over,” said Umile. “I thought [we] did a good job of that. We were missing the net, but you put that behind you and you look forward and the guys knew that we were down one goal, and if we scored, anything could happen.

“The players played with that confidence all season.”

Collins agreed.

“We have four lines with people that can score. We feel that at any time we can score on any goalie in the country. Once we got the second goal, no words needed to be said. We win or go home and no one wanted to go home.”

hu unh 032605 5 UNH Rallies to Eliminate Harvard in Overtime

UNH’s Justin Aikins gets the better of Crimson Tyler Magura along the boards (photo: Melissa Wade).

As time wound down in the third, Harvard was holding on as the relentless UNH attack generated quality chance after quality chance. In the period’s final two minutes alone, Collins twice missed scoring by inches just seconds apart. On the second attempt, he deflected a point shot that eluded Grumet-Morris, but rang off the far post and out of harm’s way.

Collins was at it again in overtime. At 11:10 of the extra session, he caught the Crimson defense off guard and skated in alone against Grumet-Morris, only to have the puck roll off his stick and get turned aside.

“We were getting good looks,” said Collins, “but I’m 0-for-the-century on breakaways, so it wasn’t that frustrating for me. We took it to them in the third period and overtime. We knew it was going to come.”

Under four minutes later, it did.

On a beautiful play, co-captain Justin Aikins fired a shot from the right point through to the high slot, where Winnik redirected the puck through the legs of Grumet-Morris to set off a celebration among his teammates and the majority of the 3,622 fans in attendance.

“It was a three-on-two,” said the game’s hero, “and Aikins made a perfect pass … it was just a matter of time before we got one.”

“The game of hockey is a lot of swings and is a lot of momentum,” explained Harvard captain Noah Welch. “As far as the overtime goes, it was a pretty goal and it wasn’t anyone’s fault.

“We came out and took it to them, but that’s the way it goes.”

Regan finished the game with 39 saves, while Grumet-Morris had 43 stops. The Wildcats were 2-for-7 on the power play to Harvard’s 0-for-4.

“As far as tonight goes,” said an emotional Welch, “we left it out there. I’m upset because my college career is over, not because we lost the game. When you go out there and you know you left everything on the ice and you know your team did, then you’re a proud captain.”

Winnik’s Goal Prolongs Crimson’s NCAA Misery

Sophomore Daniel Winnik scored 15:06 into overtime to give the New Hampshire Wildcats a come-from-behind 3-2 victory over the Harvard Crimson in their NCAA Northeast Regional semifinal.

With the win, UNH (26-10-5) moves on to play Denver — victorious over Bemidji State earlier in the day — in Sunday’s regional final.

“I don’t think I’ve scored an overtime goal in a while,” admitted Winnik, “especially one this big. It was a great thrill.”

“It was an exciting game,” said UNH head coach Dick Umile. “We look forward to our matchup with Denver tomorrow.”

For the Crimson (21-10-3), the loss ended the season and marked the fourth consecutive year that Harvard has fallen to a Hockey East opponent in the opening round of the NCAA tournament. Of the five programs to have made the national tournament the last four years — UNH, Harvard, Maine, Minnesota and Michigan — only the Crimson have failed to win a game.

“I thought it was a very well-played hockey game,” said Harvard head coach Ted Donato. “We’re a very good team and I’m very proud of my guys. I thought we battled and we had our chances to win the game and I told our guys to be proud of the effort and to keep their heads up.”

Harvard came out strong right from the opening faceoff and took a 1-0 lead midway through the first period thanks to the sophomore combination of Ryan Maki and Kevin Du.

With the teams skating four-on-four, Maki and Du had control of the puck though the Mullins Center’s small neutral zone. When Du fed his classmate with a pass across the New Hampshire blueline, Maki faked a shot then wristed the disc between two defenders and by Wildcat netminder Kevin Regan at 9:26.

UNH began to turn the game around in the second period, outshooting Harvard 17-9, but could only match the Crimson’s production.

As has often been the case this season, it was only a matter of time before the Wildcats’ top point producer, Sean Collins, made his presence felt. Just 29 seconds into a UNH power play, senior defenseman Tyson Teplitsky found Collins in the high slot with a pass that his classmate quickly wristed by Harvard netminder Dov Grumet-Morris at 7:35.

“They are a very dangerous team,” said Donato. “Every time you put them on the power play is like playing Russian roulette.”

But the game’s momentum shift to UNH was short-lived as the Crimson regained the lead eight seconds later.

Freshman Tyler Magura dumped an innocent shot on Regan from the top of the right circle that was stopped, but the rebound bounced out to the left of the netminder. That’s where Harvard rookie Alex Meintel, playing in only his 10th collegiate game, and a UNH defender converged on the puck. Meintel, with his back to Regan, backhanded the puck over the goalie’s shoulder and just under the crossbar for his first tally.

The Crimson took that 2-1 lead into the final frame with thoughts of previous late-game collapses in the NCAA tournament on the minds of many in attendance. In the last two years, Harvard has been outscored 7-1 in the third periods of NCAA regional semifinal games.

UNH, despite being outshot 13-12, added to the Crimson’s misery, scoring just 3:44 into the stanza and applying intense pressure for the full period.

The Wildcats’ tying goal came while on the power play seconds after Grumet-Morris had poked a dangerous loose puck out of the slot. He tried it again after a Collins shot, but was left exposed when the puck came out to Preston Callander, who slipped it by the netminder for his team-leading 25th goal of the year.

“We tried to keep it simple by getting it in the zone and down low and not turning it over,” said Umile. “I thought [we] did a good job of that. We were missing the net, but you put that behind you and you look forward and the guys knew that we were down one goal, and if we scored, anything could happen.

“The players played with that confidence all season.”

Collins agreed.

“We have four lines with people that can score. We feel that at any time we can score on any goalie in the country. Once we got the second goal, no words needed to be said. We win or go home and no one wanted to go home.”

As time wound down in the third, Harvard was holding on as the relentless UNH attack generated quality chance after quality chance. In the period’s final two minutes alone, Collins twice missed scoring by inches just seconds apart. On the second attempt, he deflected a point shot that eluded Grumet-Morris, but rang off the far post and out of harm’s way.

Collins was at it again in overtime. At 11:10 of the extra session, he caught the Crimson defense off guard and skated in alone against Grumet-Morris, only to have the puck roll off his stick and get turned aside.

“We were getting good looks,” said Collins, “but I’m 0-for-the-century on breakaways, so it wasn’t that frustrating for me. We took it to them in the third period and overtime. We knew it was going to come.”

Under four minutes later, it did.

On a beautiful play, co-captain Justin Aikins fired a shot from the right point through to the high slot, where Winnik redirected the puck through the legs of Grumet-Morris to set off a celebration among his teammates and the majority of the 3,622 fans in attendance.

“It was a three-on-two,” said the game’s hero, “and Aikins made a perfect pass … it was just a matter of time before we got one.”

“The game of hockey is a lot of swings and is a lot of momentum,” explained Harvard captain Noah Welch. “As far as the overtime goes, it was a pretty goal and it wasn’t anyone’s fault.

“We came out and took it to them, but that’s the way it goes.”

Regan finished the game with 39 saves, while Grumet-Morris had 43 stops. The Wildcats were 2-for-7 on the power play to Harvard’s 0-for-4.

“As far as tonight goes,” said an emotional Welch, “we left it out there. I’m upset because my college career is over, not because we lost the game. When you go out there and you know you left everything on the ice and you know your team did, then you’re a proud captain.”

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