BOSTON, Mass. – Junior forward Matt Willows (Congers, N.Y.) recorded his second hat trick of the season as the University of New Hampshire men's hockey team completed a home-and-home sweep of Boston University with a 3-1 win on Monday at Agganis Arena.
The Wildcats improve to 18-15-1 overall and to 10-8-0 in Hockey East play while the Terriers fall to 8-18-4 and to 3-10-3 in league action.
The Wildcats started the period off with a high octane offense as they outshot the Terriers by a margin of 8-1 in the first seven minutes of play. Jeff Silengo (Madison, Conn.) and Nick Sorkin (Rockville, Md.) nearly got the 'Cats on the board, but BU goalie Sean Maguire made saves on both the attempts.
The Terriers broke the 0-0 stalemate with 12:20 remaining in the first period as Brendan Collier gained possession of the puck on a pass from Mike Moran to the left of Casey DeSmith (Rochester, N.H.) and fired a shot on net. DeSmith got a piece of the shot, however the puck managed to slip by and end up in the back of the net.
Willows responded with his 16th goal of the season with 7:23 left in the opening stanza. The play started with coast-to-coast puck movement by the defense. Justin Agosta (East Meadow, N.Y.) slid the puck up the ice as it was tipped onto Kevin Goumas (Long Beach, N.Y.) by Willows. Goumas skated in with the puck and found Willows in front of the net who in turn found the back of the net. Cleland's assist was the fifth of the season for him while Goumas' was the 26th of the season and 95th of his career.
At the end of the first period, UNH and BU were tied, 1-1. The Wildcats held a 13-4 shot advantage over the Terriers in the frame. There were no penalties in the period as well.
In the second period, DeSmith kept the Terriers off the board as he made saves on all eight shots he faced. He came up with a big pad save on a backhanded attempt by BU's Kevin Duane nearly halfway through the second period. He made an additional three saves to from shots to his right and four from his left.
After freshman Dylan Maller (Parkland, Fla.) was called for holding, Willows notched his second goal of the game on a breakaway attempt, beating Maguire high on his glove side. Willows intercepted the puck in the neutral zone and blazed past the BU defense to set up the play. It was his second shorthanded goal in the last two games.
In the period, the 'Cats notched 10 shots on target, nine of which were saved by Maguire.
In the third period, the Wildcats kept the offensive pressure coming as they outshot the Terriers, 15-6. At the 12:26 mark of the third period, Willows received a pass up and over the Terrier's defense and skated in on a breakaway, however he was slashed by BU's Doyle Somerby on the play, warranting a penalty shot. As he skated in towards the net, he attempted to beat Maguire between the legs, but the netminder got low and made the save.
Willows recorded his third goal of the night and second hat trick of the season with 1:17 left in the third period as he scored on an empty net goal. The play originated with Brett Pesce (Tarrytown, N.Y.) as he slid the puck up the ice to Goumas. Goumas played the puck on to Willows who buried his attempt for the hat trick.
After three periods of play, the Wildcats were victorious by a score of 3-1.
DeSmith made 17 saves on 18 shots faced in the game with the only goal of the night for BU coming in the first period. His record improves to 16-13-0 on the year. Maguire made 35 saves on 37 shots faced as his record fell to 2-11-0. Both teams were held 0-for-1 on the power play.
The Wildcats have a bye-week coming up before traveling to Merrimack College for a pair of games to wrap up the regular season. The first of that series is on Friday, Feb. 28 at 7 p.m.