WORCESTER, MA - Senior Colin Hemingway and sophomore Preston Callander each scored two goals to lead the University of New Hampshire to Friday night's 5-2 win against St. Cloud State in the opening round of the NCAA Division I Men's Ice Hockey Tournament held at the Worcester Centrum Centre in Worcester, Mass.
The win sets up a rematch of the 2003 Hockey East Tournament Championship game held just two weekends ago between the Wildcats and Boston University Terriers. The Hockey East Tournament Championship was won by the Wildcats, 1-0, in overtime on a Tyson Teplitsky goal on March 15.
Saturday night's rematch at the NCAA Northeast Regional Final is set for 8:00 p.m. at the Worcester Centrum Centre. The game will be broadcast throughout New England on the New England Sports Network (NESN).
It will mark the third time that New Hampshire and Boston University have met in NCAA Tournament play. Most recently, the Wildcats defeated the Terriers, 4-3 in overtime, in the 1998 East Regional to advance to the Frozen Four. The only other meeting was in the 1977 third-place game won by BU, 6-5.
Junior goaltender Mike Ayers was solid throughout the game making 35 saves, incuding 19 in the third period. It was Ayers' 25th win of the season tying him with Sean Matile for the single-season win record at UNH.
It did not take long for UNH to get on the board as Hemingway scored just :10 seconds into the game. Fellow senior Lanny Gare fed a pass from the right wing half-wall to Hemingway between the circles. Hemingway's backhander found the twine to give UNH the 1-0 lead. It was the fastest goal in NCAA Regional history and the sixth fastest in the history of the NCAA Tournament.
St. Cloud State would tie the game with a 5-on-3 power-play goal at 8:11. Senior Joe Motzko's shot from the mid-point was stopped by UNH junior goaltender Mike Ayers, but senior Ryan Malone was there to knock in the rebound at 8:11 to tie the game at 1-1.
Hemingway's second goal of the game, this one on the power play, would give the 'Cats a 2-1 lead heading into the first intermission. Senior defenseman Garrett Stafford made a good play to grab a puck down out of the air and work his way to the right side of the net. Stafford fed it into the crease where the puck deflected to Hemingway who snapped it shortside. It was his 22nd goal - and 11th power-play goal - of the season.
New Hampshire would again strike quickly in the second period. Senior Jim Abbott broke up a Husky clearing effort and poked the puck to Callander in front of the net. Callander's backhander beat St. Cloud State netminder Jake Moreland blocker side to give UNH a 3-1 lead just 1:20 into the period.
The Huskies would cut the lead to 3-2 at 3:53 of the second when defensemen Jeff Finger scored his fifth goal of the season. Matt Hendricks sent the puck to the front of the net from the left side. The puck deflected off Ayers and Finger, who had charged in from the point, banged the puck through Ayers' five-hole.
The Wildcats would connect for their second power-play goal of the game to regain the two-goal cushion at 7:08 of the middle stanza. Junior Nathan Martz started the play from the right point with a pass down to junior Steve Saviano in the right corner. Saviano quickly passed the puck to Sean Collins in the slot who wasted no time in snapping the shot past the glove hand of Moreland to make it 4-2. It marked the second-straight year the sophomore reached the 20-goal plateau.
Callander's second goal of the game would also come on the man advantage. Sophomore Justin Aikins, manning the point on the power play, snapped a shot towards the net and Callander made a nice redirection of the shot to close out the scoring at 5-2. Hemingway picked up his third point of the night with an assist on the play.
Moreland finished with 25 saves for the Huskies.
UNH is making its 13th all-time appearance in the NCAA Tournament and its ninth appearance under head coach Dick Umile. St. Cloud was making its fourth NCAA Tournament appearance, qualifying for the tournament each of the last four years.
The Wildcats improve to 26-7-6 with the win. St. Cloud closes out its season at 17-16-5.
It was the first-ever meeting between these two schools.