BOSTON — Before any pucks were dropped in the Hockey East semifinals Friday, Massachusetts-Lowell and Notre Dame were already locks to be in the NCAA tournament. And Providence looked like a pretty good bet to make the NCAAs, win or lose.
But if New Hampshire didn’t win Friday, you could safely say that the Wildcats were done for the season, ending the collegiate careers of six seniors, including Kevin Goumas and Justin Agosta.
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But Goumas’s two goals sure looked to be the work of a guy who wasn’t ready to take off his Wildcats jersey for the last time.
On the first, he sold Jon Gillies on a short-side attempt before leaving the netminder off balance for a wraparound goal. And his second goal — with just four-tenths of a second left in the second period — was just a matter of Goumas refusing to give up on a play when it looked like the when the Friars fans in attendance were breathing a sigh of relief and anticipating the buzzer.
“It’s been on my mind for the last week or so,” Goumas said when asked about facing a win-or-go-home weekend in his first trip to the TD Garden since a loss to Merrimack in his freshman season. “I’m going out there and trying to make sure it’s not my last game. I want to take care of business in Hockey East first, but I want one more chance at the NCAA tournament and a national championship, too. I’m trying to go out there and leave it all on the ice.”
That’s the kind of determination that wins hard-fought playoff games with your season on the line.
But if anyone was going to come up big, it would make sense that it would be Goumas, whose night put him just ahead of a point-per-game pace over the course of his New Hampshire career.
The Long Beach, N.Y., native has 146 points — including 44 goals — in 145 collegiate games. That also puts him two points ahead of his coach Dick Umile, as the two were tied for 30th on the all-time UNH scoring list coming into Friday.
“Kevin is obviously an amazing player,” junior linemate Matt Willows said. “He’s one of the best players in the league and one of the best players in the country.”
Goumas has had two opportunities to play in the NCAA tournament, but the Hockey East title has eluded him and his classmates. Their freshman year, there was a disappointing 4-1 loss in the semifinals. And then his sophomore and junior years ended similarly when it came to league play, as the Wildcats lost in the decisive third game of the Hockey East quarterfinals.
So this is a special occasion. “This is only my second time here in four years, so to win would be pretty amazing,” Goumas said.
So now the standout centerman gets to play at least one more — and maybe more than that if has another night like this. More wraparounds could wrap up a trip to the NCAAs.
“You heard him,” New Hampshire coach Dick Umile said. “He’s determined to not have his season end.”