Jacob Micflikier couldn’t remember the last time he received a second chance within 10 seconds of missing the first. He won’t soon forget this one.
The New Hampshire junior forward chipped home the ricochet of a Brett Hemingway centering pass for the game-winning goal with 14.9 seconds to play on Saturday as No. 11 New Hampshire pulled out a wild 5-4 win over Dartmouth in the fifth Battle of the RiverStone Cup at Verizon Wireless Arena. A year after earning his first varsity win in the same building, Dartmouth goaltender Mike Devine was the victim as Hemingway’s shot from the left corner bounced right to Micflikier for the conversion.
It came less than eight seconds after Devine had stoned Micflikier on a potential game-winning penalty shot and just a half-minute following Dartmouth’s fourth game-tying goal of the night, courtesy of Eric Przepiorka, with 44.6 seconds left.
“Coming into that penalty shot I felt pretty confident, but afterwards I was a little down on myself; I felt bad for me and mostly for the team,” Micflikier said. “Being able to get that goal right after was a big boost.”
Przepiorka’s score – with Devine (28 saves) on the bench for an extra attacker – came after New Hampshire narrowly missed on a pair of empty-net attempts. The Big Green senior had just enough room to bury the puck from the left slot past New Hampshire goaltender Kevin Regan (43 saves) to tie the game and make overtime a very real possibility.
Dartmouth defenseman Mike Hartwick was forced to drag Micflikier down to deny a breakaway with 22.5 seconds to go. Micflikier tried to deke to his forehand, but Devine slapped the puck away before the Wildcat forward could shoot.
“I was just going for a poke check; I like to do that on breakaways,” Devine said. “It worked out. I felt real good at that point, but that changed real quickly.”
UNH sandwiched goals from Trevor Smith and Jerry Pollastrone around a tip-in from Dartmouth’s Connor Shields for a 2-1 lead after one. Nick Johnson conquered Regan on a power-play breakaway early in the second period for Dartmouth, only to have Daniel Winnik re-establish New Hampshire’s one-goal cushion at 18:05.
Regan misplayed a shot from Jarrett Sampson two minutes into the third period, allowing the Big Green to tie things up at 3-3 and set up the latest weird finish in the RiverStone series. Last year, Dartmouth erased leads of 7-3 and 8-5, scoring four times in the final 10 minutes for a 9-8 victory.
“I think we just have to take it in stride,” Sampson said. “We played a good game. I think we just had breakdowns, and that killed us.”
Dartmouth (7-9-1) wraps its nonleague slate with home dates against Sacred Heart and Holy Cross next week. It’s Hockey East the rest of the way for UNH (12-7-4), which has a home-and-home with Massachusetts on its itinerary next weekend.
Greg Fennell covers Dartmouth hockey for the Valley News of West Lebanon, N.H.