No. 9 New Hampshire struggled with special teams for 55 minutes; then, things changed.
Senior Paul Thompson buried a one-timer at the doorstep after a great play by linemate Phil DeSimone set up the power-play game-tying goal as the Wildcats alternated goals in a 3-3 tie with No. 3 Michigan in front of a standing-room only crowd of 6,501 Saturday night in a game with the intensity of mid-April rather than mid-October.
Twenty seconds into the four-on-three penalty, DeSimone took a pass from Kessel at the red line and skated up the boards before dishing the game-tying pass to a wide open Thompson with just over four minutes remaining in regulation.
“Desimone made an absolutely fabulous play to Thompson,” New Hampshire coach Dick Umile, who called a timeout before the power play, said.
The Wolverines were powered by a perfect power-play unit and senior goalie Shawn Hunwick, who stopped a career-high 45 shots. UNH’s Matt DiGirolamo countered with 27 saves. But it was Hunwick who stole the show.
In overtime, Hunwick stoned Dalton Speelman, who was on a breakaway, and made a diving stop on DeSimone midway through the third, highlighting a busy night between the posts.
“I thought Hunwick kept us in the game,” Michigan coach Red Berenson said. “Our power-play played great as well, but they’re a real good team and they’re the type that you hope you get to play again this year.”
The Wolverines lit the lamp with a power-play tally in each period.
Defenseman Brandon Burlon gave Michigan the brief 3-2 lead midway through the third when he buried a tic-tac one-timer from Matt Rust just 12 seconds into its third and final power-play.
His Wolverines were on the wrong side of power plays four times though, in an exciting second period, but again, Hunwick stepped to the plate.
The 5-foot-7 senior stopped 14 shots in the period and was a big reason Michigan was able to kill off the four second period penalties, including a brief five-on-three, golden opportunities for the Wildcats.
“That’s when you really need your goalie,” Berenson said. “He was as good as it gets. But still, they found a way to get behind him for key goals. And goals were precious tonight. We can’t be taking those penalties.”
DeSimone made Michigan pay again, knotting the game at 2-2 when he put home a juicy rebound after Thompson and Mike Sislo had shots turned aside by Hunwick.
“Their goalie played a great game,” Umile said.
The Wildcats had their way with the Michigan defense in overtime, outshooting the Wolverines 8-1 in the five-minute span, but couldn’t sneak one past Hunwick.
Steve Moses had the best chance in the extra frame for UNH when he threw a wrist shot on net after a loose rebound, but Hunwick turned it away with the blocker.
“I just tried to fire it on net. It was a good opportunity,” Moses said. “(Hunwick) played well, but I know that a couple of us had shots we’d like to have back.”
Despite the three power plays, Michigan only needed 2:39 to net the three goals, and only 41 seconds to net the final two.
“I take the blame for the short-handed stuff,” Umile said. “We always play aggressive (short-handed) until the team shows that they can move the puck. After the first two, I should’ve quit and said ‘You know what? We’re not going after them anymore.’”
Michigan got the scoring started midway through the first with a pretty one-timer from the left slot.
New Hampshire answered just over a minute into the second when Moses beat Hunwick on a wrist shot off a faceoff win from Mike Borisenok.
“This was one of the best team games we’ve played since I’ve been here,” Moses said.
The Wildcats moved to 1-1-1 with the tie after playing the No. 3 team in the nation in back-to-back weekends. Last weekend, UNH split a series with then No. 3 Miami.
Michigan (2-0-2), meanwhile, remains unbeaten heading into a series with Nebraska-Omaha next weekend in Ann Arbor.
“Like I told Red (Berenson) after the game, it was just a great college hockey game.” Umile said. “Two good teams went at it.”