DURHAM, N.H. – Blake Kessel (Verona, Wis.) and Mike Sislo (Superior, Wis.) recorded two points apiece, but the seventh-ranked University of New Hampshire men's hockey team was defeated 4-3 its regular-season finale by second-ranked Boston College.
UNH finished the regular season at 19-9-6 overall and second in the Hockey East standings at 17-6-4. The second-seeded Wildcats will host a Hockey East best-of-three quarterfinal series against seventh-seeded University of Vermont from March 11-13. Start time for every game is 7 p.m. BC unseated UNH as the regular-season champs by improving to 26-7-1, 20-6-1.
UNH goaltender Matt Di Girolamo (Ambler, Pa.) finished with 25 saves, while Muse stopped 27 shots, including 14 in the second period.
The Wildcats skated to a 1-0 lead as both teams recorded nine shots through 20 minutes of play. Blake Kessel (Verona, Wis.) carried the puck through the neutral zone and fed Dalton Speelman (San Jose, Calif.) at the top of the blueline. Speelman fired the puck from the end line and deflected in of the glove of BC netminder John Muse at 18:05 of the period.
BC outscored the 'Cats 2-1 in the second period to level the score, 2-2, through 40 minutes. New Hampshire opened the middle stanza with one minute remaining on the power play and capitalized on that skater advantage to net a 2-0 lead. Mike Sislo (Superior, Wis.) initiated and finished the scoring sequence from the top of the left circle. He first moved the puck to the high slot, where Kessel tapped the puck to Brett Kostolansky (Denver, Colo.) and quickly received a return pass. Kessel then swung a pass back to Sislo, whose high shot sailed into the upper-right corner of the cage 38 seconds into the stanza.
BC went on its second power-play opportunity of the night at 4:02, but it was UNH that created the most dangerous scoring chance in the next two minutes. A BC shot from the right circle sailed wide of the cage and the puck continued around the boards into the neutral zone. Phil DeSimone (East Amherst, N.Y.) tracked down the puck to lead a 2-on-1 rush down the right wing. DeSimone slid a pass to the slot and Sislo's close-range low wrister was stopped by Muse.
The Eagles capitalized on their third power-play opportunity to pull within 2-1 at 11:05. Cam Atkinson and Brian Dumoulin exchanged passes through the neutral zone and Dumoulin, from the high slot, snapped a pass to Brian Gibbons in the right circle. Gibbons' shot was stopped by Di Girolamo, but Atkinson corralled the rebound at the left doorstep and threw the puck in front to Barry Almeida, who scored into the open net.
Boston College evened the score, 2-2, with 13 seconds remaining in the second period. From his defensive blue line, Dumoulin executed a tape-to-tape pass to Atkinson at the opposite blue line to spring him on a breakaway down the slot. Atkinson puckhandled as he advanced, then pulled the puck wide right and tucked a forehand into the open net.
BC scored a third consecutive goal at 13:52 of the third period to take its first lead of the game, 3-2. Paul Carey, from the right corner, found Tommy Cross in the slot and his wrister went into the upper-right corner of the net. Pat Mullane was also credited with an assist.
UNH rallied to tie the score, 3-3, at 9:52. From a scrum in front of the net, a shot by Sislo in the low slot was blocked by a BC defenseman, but Paul Thompson (Derry, N.H.), who finished with the Hockey East scoring title with 42 points, poked the loose puck to DeSimone and he deposited a shot into the net.
The visitors reclaimed the lead, 4-3, at 15:07. On a faceoff to Di Girolamo's left, Mullane won the faceoff back to Cross at the right point. He carried the puck to the slot and lifted a shot into Di Girolamo. Mullane, alone at the left doorstep, corralled the rebound and scored into the open left side.
The Wildcats called time out at that point and, needing a win to defend its Hockey East regular-season title, pulled Di Girolamo in favor of an extra skater with 43 seconds remaining. BC iced the puck with 32 on the clock and called a timeout. There was a frenzy in front of the net in the closing 10 seconds, but the puck never made it through to Muse and Sislo's last-second shot was blocked wide by BC's Dumoulin.
New Hampshire recognized its six-member senior class of Mike Beck (Long Beach, Calif.), Matt Campanale (Chester Springs, Pa.), DeSimone, Greg Manz (Wayne, Pa.), Sislo and Thompson prior to the game.