DURHAM, N.H. — New Hampshire fell behind Colorado College early in the first period but rallied twice from two-goal deficits for a 5-3 win. Jerry Pollastrone scored both the equalizer and game-winner in the third period. Linemate Bobby Butler added a goal and two assists.
It marked the second time in two games that New Hampshire (2-0-0) has ridden an explosive third period to a win.
“It’s early [so] we don’t want to say that we’re a third-period team, but the early indication is that we are,” said captain Matt Fornataro, who scored a key goal to open the second period and added an open-netter to ice the win. “It’s a good way to start the weekend.”
Colorado College (2-1-0) had been coming off a sweep over Minnesota and may have felt it was home free after a 3-1 first period lead.
“You’re thinking you’re something more than you are,” said CC coach Scott Owens.
“New Hampshire is too good of a team not to put away and make it 4-1. They picked up their forechecking and had us scrambling. We didn’t play poorly, but we just didn’t take care of the puck very well.”
UNH’s first line of Fornataro, Mike Radja, and highly-touted freshman James vanRiemsdyk had been getting most of the attention, but it was the second line of Pollastrone, Butler and Peter LeBlanc that keyed the comeback win.
Pollastrone and Butler, in particular, collaborated on both the tying and winning goals. Butler screened CC goaltender Drew O’Connell on the his linemate’s first, a shot from 35 feet at 9:45 of the third.
“Bob Butler had a great screen in front of the net,” said Pollastrone. “The goalie didn’t see it. The shot wasn’t even that hard. It was a little muffin I put on that, but it found its way to the net.”
Then at 17:29, Butler rubbed a CC defender against the back boards, separating him from the puck, allowing Pollastrone to collect it and backhand the winner in from a sharp angle.
“It was great to see them play like that,” said Umile. “We had good balance throughout the lines and defense. We’ve still got a lot of work to do but I like the way the team competed tonight.”
The Tigers established scoreboard dominance early and often in the first period, needing a mere two minutes and change to jump out on top. Eric Walsky left a drop pass on the left faceoff dot for Tyler Johnson, who shot through a partial screen. Walsky, who crashed the net, stuffed in the rebound.
Seven minutes later, the Tigers made it 2-0 off a turnover at UNH’s offensive blue line. Chad Rau picked the pocket of a Wildcat defenseman, broke up the right wing two-on-one with Jimmy Kilpatrick, and carried the puck into the zone. Rau slid it to Kilpatrick inside the left faceoff circle and the senior buried it for his first point of the year.
With a hush falling over the Whittemore Center crowd, Butler rallied the Wildcats and their fans with a goal off the resulting faceoff, just eight seconds after Fitzpatrick’s. Butler shot from the top of the left faceoff circle, beating Drew O’Connell far side along the ice.
At 15:10, however, Colorado College reestablished its two-goal lead on the power play. Jack Hillen fired from the right point through traffic, apparently deflecting off a UNH player past a defenseless Regan.
As Butler had done in the first, Fornataro rallied the Wildcats with a quick-strike goal just 15 seconds into the second period, stealing the puck and putting it into the net from the top of the right faceoff circle.
Midway through the period, CC enjoyed a 17 second five-on-three advantage but couldn’t capitalize on that or the subsequent five-on-four. From that point on, UNH took over, generating the best of the opportunities although it wouldn’t be until the third period that it showed on the scoreboard.
The two teams face off against each other again on Saturday. Umile has already tabbed Brian Foster as his starting goaltender.