BURLINGTON, Vt. – Greg Collins (Fairport, N.Y.) scored at 3:44 of overtime to lift the ninth-ranked University of New Hampshire men’s ice hockey to Saturday night's 6-5 Hockey East win over No. 7 Vermont at Gutterson Fieldhouse in the regular-season finale. With the win, the Wildcats secured the third seed in the upcoming Hockey East Tournament and will host sixth-seeded Boston College next weekend at Whittemore Center. UNH improves to 19-10-5, 15-8-4 Hockey East. The Catamounts are now 20-9-5, 15-8-4 HE. The Wildcats captured the season series (2-1-0), thus earning the third seed in the tournament.
A crashing Collins tapped in a right-to-left pass from Paul Thompson (Derry, N.H.) and beat UVM netminder Rob Madore in the short side of the net for the game winner. Kevin Kapstad (Boxboro, Mass.) also had a helper on the goal.
In a game at saw six lead changes and five ties, it was UNH that rallied with the equalizer at 16:40 of the third period. New Hampshire netted the game-tying goal as Peter LeBlanc (Hamilton, Ontario) scored his second of the game at 16:40 of the third. Collins stole the puck behind the net and made a centering pass to LeBlanc for the quick shot. UVM held a 12-9 shot advantage in the period and the teams went into the overtime period tied at 5-5.
UNH drew first blood as LeBlanc netted an even-strength goal as he dribbled past a pair of Catamount defenders before beating Madore. Paul Thompson and Collins, who finished with a career-high three points (1g, 2a) were credited with assists on the goal at 11:48. Vermont responded with a goal of its own just over a minute later as Viktor Stalberg scored with assists from Brian Roloff and Drew Mackenzie at 12:50. The Wildcats regained the lead as Bobby Butler (Marlboro, Mass.) stole a Vermont clear attempt and fed James van Riemsdyk (Middletown, N.J.), who was all alone in front of the net and beat Madore short-side for the 2-1 lead. UNH went into the break with a 2-1 lead, while UVM held a 15-9 shot advantage.
Vermont tied it at 2-2 as Jonathan Higgins scored at 6:20 of the second period with assists from Dan Lawson and Jack Downing. The Catamounts added a 5-on-3 goal just a few minutes later to take its first lead of the game. Lawson scored with assists from Kyle Medvec and Justin Milo at 8:44. UNH netted the equalizer at 15:59 as Alan Thompson (Gilford, N.H.) scored with an assist from Matt Campanale (Chester Springs, Pa.), who carried the puck into the offensive zone and made a pass to Thompson at the left slot for the one-timer and Nick Krates (Palos Park, Ill.). The assist was Campanale's first collegiate point and tied it at 3-3 heading into second intermission. UVM held a 9-5 advantage in shots in the period.
UVM quickly regained the lead in the third period as Colin Vock scored at 1:14 of the third on a one-on-none opportunity. Corey Carlson had a helper on the go-ahead goal. The Wildcats answered with a goal of their own at 3;35 as Kapstad scored his second goal of the season on a one-timer from the left point. Alan Thompson and Thomas Fortney (Webster Groves, Mo.) setup the tally. Madore initially stopped the shot, but it trickled into to the Vermont net. Vermont went back on top as HIggins scored his second goal of the game at 6:42 with assists from Chris Atkinson and Josh Burrows.
UNH goaltender Brian Foster (Pembroke, N.H.) stopped 31 shots including 14 in the opening stanza and improves to 18-8-4, while Madore turned away 22 including four in the overtime session, but falls to 13-7-4.
UNH had all five shots in the overtime, but were outshot 36-28 in the game.
UVM was 1-4 on the power play, scoring on a 5-3 opportunity. The Wildcats were 0-2 on their extra-skater opportunities.
UNH, which has earned the third seed in the upcoming Hockey East Tournament, returns to action next weekend (March 13-15) as it will play host to sixth-seeded Boston College in a best-of-three Hockey East quarterfinal series. The teams will open the series Friday night at 7 p.m. at Whittemore Center. All games can be heard live on the Wildcats Sports Network with live audio, live video and live stats available at www.unhwildcats.com.