CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. — No. 7 Boston College scored twice in the final 3:05, including Steven Whitney’s game-winner in the final minute, as the Eagles earned a hard-fought 4-3 victory over New Hampshire Friday in front of 7,228 at BC’s Kelley Rink
The game looked like the blueprint for Boston College’s third straight disaster. Having lost two close games at Maine last weekend, both games winnable in the final minutes, BC dominated the Wildcats territorially and on the shot chart but trailed, 3-2, when UNH’s Scott Pavelski buried his second career goal with 4:42 to play.
A penalty to UNH’s Austin Block with 3:55 remaining, though, set up BC’s comeback.
Rookie Johnny Gaudreau netted his ninth goal of the season, redirecting a shot-pass from Brian Dumoulin on the power play at 16:55.
Then Whitney became the game’s hero with 51.3 seconds remaining, coming off the bench, taking a pass as the late man from Pat Mullane and depositing it past UNH netminder Casey DeSmith.
The Wildcats got their chance to tie when Stevie Moses hit the post with nine seconds remaining.
“Points have been very difficult for us to attain, so we thought these two points were very important for our club,” said Eagles coach Jerry York. “We responded well. And we’re fortunate that the goal post was wide on the left side of Parker.”
The game-winning goal came on a play where UNH turned the puck over while trying to get it deep on a change. Whitney, at the start of a shift, then saw a lane to get to the net and buried the critical shot.
“There was a backchecker a couple of feet behind me,” said Whitney of the goal. “I was trying to get to that space so Pat Mullane could get me the puck and get a shot off as quick as possible.”
The Eagles jumped out to a quick lead, scoring in the first minute of the game on an awkward shot by Kevin Hayes. Behind the attacking goal line, Hayes fired a quick shot that hit the back of DeSmith’s (30 saves) right leg and caromed into the net just 35 seconds after the opening faceoff.
In the second, the Wildcats tied things on a near-identical goal. After John Henrion fired in a shot that required Boston College netminder Parker Milner (10 saves) to make a solid stop, Austin Block threw the rebound from the left corner on net, banking it off Milner’s stick to knot the game at 2:10 of the second.
After the Wildcats grabbed the lead on a nifty Moses one-time wrister at 5:12, BC drew back tied when Chris Kreider skated end-to-end short-handed, tucking the puck inside the left post at 14:24 to even the game at two.
That set up the third period and the game’s dramatic ending.
The win propels Boston College (15-10-1, 11-7-1 Hockey East) into solo second place in Hockey East, two points behind of first-place Boston University and a point clear of third-place Maine.
UNH (9-13-2, 6-10-1 Hockey East), on the other hand, is in battle for what could be the final playoff spot in Hockey East, a point ahead of Northeastern, which won Friday, 8-3, at Vermont. That fact is hardly lost in Friday’s defeat on Wildcats coach Dick Umile.
“We gave the game away,” said Umile. “Home ice, we’re not worried about that so much. We need to win some games to get in the playoffs or else we’ll find ourselves out of it.”