DURHAM, N.H. — No.2 Boston University (18-5-1, 11-5-1 HE) completed a series sweep of No.11 New Hampshire (11-8-4, 7-6-3 HE) with a 3-1 victory at the Whittemore Center Saturday night. Just 24 hours after being crushed 5-0, the Wildcats fought back in front of a sold out crowd of 6,501, outshooting the Terriers by 12, but tallying more shots wasn’t good enough for the two points as BU’s penalty kill and goaltending saved the day.
UNH went 0-6 on the power play, BU went one-for-five, and Terriers’ netminder Kieran Millan saved 29 out of 30 and UNH’s Brian Foster stopped 15 of 18.
“All in all that game was won in two aspects; one and number one was our goaltending, he [Millan] played absolutely wonderful,” said BU coach Jack Parker. “And [number two] we did a good job killing penalties tonight. And when we didn’t, when they [the Wildcats] got great looks because they moved it so well and we were out of position, Kieran once again came up big for us. Those are the two reasons we’re walking out of here with two points.”
The Terriers killed three straight Wildcat power play opportunities in the opening stanza alone.
Nowhere near the puck, BU co-captain John McCarthy was called for interference at 6:36 to give the Wildcats their first chance with the man advantage. The second came when senior Brandon Yip was put in the box for cross-checking at 10:06, this time UNH keeping the pressure in the BU zone. The third Wildcat power play came exactly three minutes later when sophomore Nick Bonino got a penalty for interference, but the Wildcats could not produce.
Towards the end of the period, the Terriers were able to capitalize with the man advantage on their second try when McCarthy got the puck out of the left corner of the UNH zone after Colin Wilson got a piece of it. McCarthy dished it to Kevin Shattenkirk, who was waiting at the crease, and Shattenkirk got BU on the board first with the power-play goal at 19:13, putting the Terriers in the lead by one.
It was a scoreless second period, and it was the Wildcats’ turn to kill some penalties when sophomore Mike Sislo got a penalty at 4:09 for slashing, and rookie Damon Kipp went to the box later on at 15:14 for hooking.
BU’s Luke Popko took a seat for slashing at 18:25 and Phil DeSimone tried to capitalize on the power play with a cross ice pass in the BU zone to classmate Paul Thompson by the left circle, but Millan pulled off the glove save on Thompson’s shot.
The third period brought three goals, the first by the Wildcats when the UNH power couple stepped up; James van Riemsdyk got his 18th assist of the season when he passed it from the left slot to Sislo, who on the rush beat out a defender at the crease, potting his 15th goal of the year at 12:57. Until this point, Millan had not given up an even-strength goal in 315 minutes and 16 seconds.
BU only waited 25 seconds to answer back and silence the crowd when Chris Connolly got the game-winner at 13:22 to put the Terriers back on top 2-1. To secure the win in the final seconds of the game, BU’s top line of Chris Higgins, Jason Lawrence, and Colin Wilson contributed once again when Lawrence tapped it over to Higgins, who got his 11th goal of the season with the empty-netter.
Despite the win, Parker expects more out of his club.
“I told my team before tonight at the team meeting that ‘I will guarantee you that UNH will be a different team than you saw last night, I guarantee you that. They played well [BU] last night and in order for us to win we have to play better.’ I was wrong; we didn’t play anywhere near as well as we did last night.”
Nevertheless, UNH coach Dick Umile is still impressed with his opponents. “Last night we [UNH] were out of our league…BU is probably the best team in the country.”
BU will travel to Merrimack on Friday for their next game while New Hampshire will host Vermont.