CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. – Third-ranked New Hampshire closed out the HOCKEY EAST regular season with a 2-1 win over Boston College before 5,927 at Kelley Rink on Sunday afternoon. Junior Colin Hemingway netted the decisive goal at 7:33 of the third period and Michael Ayers made 24 saves to lead the Wildcats to the win.
UNH (25-6-3, 17-4-3 HEA) jumped out to a quick 1-0 lead 43 seconds into the game. Sophomore Steve Saviano skated in off the right boards and sneaked a shot past Eagles netminder Matti Kaltiainen. Darren Haydar sent Saviano in for the goal. Ayers made 11 saves in the first period, including back-to-back attempts by Tony Voce.
Voce evened the game at 1-1 at 11:29 of the second period. He knocked in a Jeff Giuliano chip for his 24th goal of the season. Ben Eaves set up the power-play goal when he collected the rebound of a J.D. Forrest shot from the point.
Hemingway’s goal – his 30th of the season – resulted after Matti Kaltiainen made consecutive saves on Lanny Gare and Preston Callendar. Hemingway took the second rebound and roofed a shot over Kaltiainen.
Kaltiainen gave BC (18-16-2, 10-13-1 HEA) a chance to tie the score late in the third. He picked up a long dump in, and passed up ice to Voce who was waiting at the blue line. Voce skated in alone, but his shot was blocked from behind by a Wildcat defenseman. Kaltiainen then stopped two separate one-on-none breakaways by Sean Collins to preserve the 2-1 score.
Ayers – who established the HOCKEY EAST single-season save percentage record with a .938 mark this season – made 24 saves in the win. Kaltiainen made 25 saves, including 14 in the third period.
Both teams will start play in the best-of-three HOCKEY EAST Tournament quarterfinals next weekend. New Hampshire, who earned the top seed, will face Merrimack while the sixth-seeded Eagles will travel to third-seeded Maine. The BC/Maine series will start on Thursday at 7 p.m. at Alfond Arena, while the UNH/Merrimack series will begin on Friday at the Whittemore Center at 7 p.m.
NOTES – BC sophomore defenseman J.D. Forrest suffered a lacerated forearm in the third period and was taken to St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center … Ayers finished the season with a 1.79 goals against average, the best in the league.