WORCESTER, Mass. - Junior forward Jim Abbott (Mars, Penn.) scored his second goal of the game with 2:39 remaining to break a 3-3 tie and lift the University of New Hampshire into the 2002 Frozen Four with a 4-3 victory over Cornell on Sunday at the Worcester Centrum Centre.
The Wildcats will face Hockey East rival Maine in the national semifinals on Thursday, April 4 at 1:30 p.m. (Eastern). This year's Frozen Four is at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, MN. Michigan will face Minnesota in the nightcap at 7:30 (Eastern).
Abbott's game-winner was all set up by a terrific Garrett Stafford (Los Angeles, Calif.) rush as Stafford was able to penetrate the defense and snap off a shot that went wide. Abbott picked up the carom, peeled off the wall, and wristed a shot from the right face-ff dot through the pads of Cornell netminder Matt Underhill.
The goals came fast-and-furious at the start of the game with five goals scored in the opening 11:22 giving UNH a 3-2 lead.
Just 1:55 into the contest, Abbott chipped home a Preston Callander (Regina, Sask.) centering pass to give the Wildcats a 1-0 lead.
Cornell would tie the game at 4:32 when Stephen Baby found a loose puck in the crease and knocked it past UNH goaltender Matt Carney (Bridgewater, Mass.).
The Big Red took a 2-1 lead just 1:02 later on a Sam Paolini power play goal. Camped in front of the net, Paolini scored his team-leading 15th goal of the season on a nice feed from Ryan Vesce.
Colin Hemingway (Surrey, B.C.) would score the next two goals, both on the power play, for UNH to put the Wildcats back on top 3-2.
At 6:39 on a 5-on-3, Hemingway walked from the left wing boards and snuck a snapshot through the pads of Cornell goalie Matt Underhill. Darren Haydar (Milton, Ont.) and Sean Collins (Reading, Mass.) picked up assists on the goal.
New Hampshire would score again at 11:22 when Collins flipped a pass to Hemingway at the left post, where he was able to bank it in off of Underhill's pads. It was Hemingway's 33rd goal of the season and his 13th power-play marker.
The frantic pace slowed down after the initial onslaught. The second period saw Cornell outshoot UNH by only a 5-4 margin.
Cornell's Shane Palahicky would tie the game at 3-3 with just 6:43 remaining in the third when he chopped a Travis bell rebound over Carney.
Carney stopped 15 shots in picking up his 16th win of the season. Underhill made 20 saves for Cornell.
New Hampshire improves to 30-6-3 with the win and advances to the Frozen Four for the third time in the last five seasons. UNH will face Maine for the second time in the NCAA Tournament on April 4. The previous meeting was the 1999 championship game in Anaheim, which Maine won 3-2 in overtime.
Cornell ends its season at 25-8-2.