UNH men's hockey outlasts Boston U., 4-3

Matt Willows

DURHAM, N.H. -- Matt Willows (Congers, N.Y.) scored two goals and Justin Agosta (East Meadow, N.Y.) recorded three assists to lead the University of New Hampshire men's ice hockey team to Friday night's 4-3 victory against Boston University in front of a Senior Night crowd at the Whittemore Center.

UNH improved to 17-15-1 overall and 9-8-0 in Hockey East while BU moved to 8-17-4, 3-9-3. These teams conclude the two-game series Feb. 15 at BU's Agganis Arena; game time is 7 p.m.

Agosta matched his career highs in both assists and points with the three-assist performance. Dan Correale (Prince George, British Columbia) and Eric Knodel (West Chester, Pa.) tallied the other UNH goals while Casey DeSmith (Rochester, N.H.) recorded double-digit saves all three periods (12-13-12) to finish with 37.

BU counterpart Matt O'Connor was credited with 23 saves. Robbie Baillergeon (one goal, two assists), Evan Rodrigues (1g, 1a) and Danny O'Regan (1g, 1a) all tallied multiple points for the Terriers.

The Wildcats skated to a 3-0 lead and led 3-1 at the end of the first period. Correale gave the 'Cats a 1-0 advantage with a shorthanded goal at 2:52 when Jeff Silengo (Madison, Conn.) was denied on a breakaway down the slot, but Correale pushed the rebound past O'Connor.

Knodel's power-play goal increased UNH's lead to 2-0 at 10:13. Brett Pesce (Tarrytown, N.Y.) initiated the scoring sequence from the high slot with a pass to Kevin Goumas (Long Beach, N.Y.) at the right faceoff dot. Goumas quickly snapped a pass to Knodel high on the left side of the slot and the senior captain blasted a shot into the upper-left corner of the cage.

Willows' first goal of the game extended the advantage to 3-0 at 17:40. Agosta's initial shot from the right point was stopped by O'Connor, but Willows corralled the rebound at the left doorstep and shoveled the puck into the open left side. Dalton Speelman (San Jose, Calif.) was also credited with an assist.

New Hampshire was whistled for holding the stick at 19:11 and hooking at 19:37 to give the Terriers a two-skater advantage, and the visitors capitalized to trim the deficit to 3-1 with eight seconds remaining in the first period. From the left half-board, O'Regan threw the puck in the slot, where Baillargeon's wrister was knocked down by DeSmith. Rodrigues gathered the loose puck at the right doorstep and lifted a shot into the open right side.

BU inched closer -- within 3-2 -- at 8:53 of the second period when O'Regan's shot from the slot sailed inside the right post. Rodrigues, with the pass from the left circle, and Baillargeon set up the tally.

UNH reestablished a two-goal lead of 4-2 at 11:41. Agosta gained possession in the defensive-zone corner and threw the puck up the boards. Willows chipped the puck past the BU skater into the neutral zone to create a breakaway for himself as he charged down the right wing and scored from the top of the crease.

In the third period, the Terriers gained another 5-on-3 skater advantage on New Hampshire penalties at 8:09 and 8:25 and they once again capitalized to close within 4-3. From the slot, Ahti Oksanen moved the puck low on the right side and Baillargeon elevated a shot into the open near side. Garrett Noonan was also credited with an assist.

With 4:30 remaining in the game, Noonan fired a shot wide left from a scrum in front of the net. One minute later, a UNH turnover in its defensive zone led to O'Regan alone in front of the net with the puck, but DeSmith snared the shot with his glove to preserve the lead.

With 1:30 on the clock, BU's Nick Roberto fired a shot from the top-right circle that ricocheted off the right post. O'Connor was pulled in favor of an extra skater four seconds later, but then had to reenter with a faceoff to his left with 72 seconds to play. Boston U. controlled that draw and O'Connor returned to the bench 10 seconds later.

The Wildcats cleared the puck to the neutral zone and Goumas skated into the left wing before firing a shot blocked by Noonan. BU generated one last rush, but DeSmith denied O'Regan and Rodrigues in the waning seconds to secure the victory.

Following the BU series, UNH returns to action Feb. 28 at Merrimack College and conclude the regular season March 1 at Merimack. Both games are at 7 p.m.

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