DURHAM, N.H. — After Northeastern avenged a two-goal deficit to tie New Hampshire in the second period, the Wildcats faithful were getting flashbacks to a game that less than 24 hours ago got away from them in the same scenario.
Fortunately for New Hampshire, the Wildcats were able to pull away in the third period to grab a 5-4 victory and advance to the TD Garden to face Providence in the Hockey East semifinals.
Brett Pesce’s goal at 13:41 of the third period stood as the game-winner for UNH.
The Wildcats jumped on the board first at 3:39 in the first period on a Nick Sorkin goal which he shot past the blocker of Clay Witt on helpers from Kevin Goumas and Pesce.
Less than two minutes later, Goumas made the lead 2-0 when he took a shot in the slot that sailed past a group of Huskies and Wildcats converged in front of Witt.
The Huskies (19-15-4) cut the lead to 2-1 with under seven minutes to play in the first on a Torin Snydeman shot that appeared to hit the blocker of Wildcats’ goalie Casey DeSmith and went into the net.
New Hampshire (22-17-1) regained a two-goal lead on Goumas’ second goal of the game on another shot from the middle of the slot that sailed past Witt.
Northeastern came out strong in the third period when the Huskies’ savior this series, Mike Szmatula, scored his first of two on the night when he took a Braden Pimm pass and jammed it past the blocker of DeSmith.
The Huskies tied the game at three at 14:27 in the period when Mike McMurtry grabbed a Pimm rebound and poked away at it until it finally got by DeSmith, who had trouble with rebounds all series long.
Goumas completed the hat trick at the 4:40 mark of the third period on a power-play goal assisted by Eric Knodel and Sorkin.
After Pesce’s goal, Northeastern, after getting a goal called off late in the third via a high stick, cut the lead to one with 3:50 left as Szmatula went coast to coast and put a shot by the diving DeSmith.
With the loss, Northeastern is unlikely to clinch an at-large berth into the NCAA tournament.
Witt ended the game with 21 saves, while DeSmith stopped 22.
Huskies’ coach Jim Madigan was disappointed with the result of the weekend, but liked his team’s grit.
“For our guys, I thought we worked hard, we battled, we overcame a lot of adversity and was proud of the way they continued to show tremendous resolve and wore the jersey, the front of the jersey really well,” Madigan said.
UNH coach Dick Umile is thrilled his team is advancing.
“Obviously, we’re just absolutely thrilled to be going to Boston,” Umile said. “I thought our team really battled hard tonight. It was a great series and as we know from the score, it went back and forth.”