DURHAM, N.H. – A four-goal third period erased a 4-2 deficit and helped lift the 10th-ranked and top-seeded University of New Hampshire men’s hockey team to Friday night’s 7-4 come-from-behind win over #19 and eighth-seeded Vermont in game one of a best-of-three Hockey East quarterfinal series held at Whittemore Center. The teams will meet in game two of the series on Saturday night (7 p.m.).
New Hampshire improves to 17-11-7 and takes a 1-0 lead in the series, while Vermont is now 15-13-7 overall. Overall seven Wildcat skaters record multi-point efforts in the win from New Hampshire.
Trailing 4-2 entering the third UNH, which has outscored opponents 16-1 in the third period in the last eight games, struck just 38 seconds into the third frame. Blake Kessel (Verona, Wis. – 1g, 1a) scored the equalizer on the rebound of Bobby Butler (Marlboro, Mass. – 2g, 1a) shot. Phil DeSimone (East Amherst, N.Y.) was registered an assist on the goal. Mike Sislo (Superior, Wis. – 2g) scored his second of the night to give UNH a 5-4 lead with assists from Peter LeBlanc (Hamilton, Ontario – 3a) and Stevie Moses (Leominster, Mass. – 2a) at 3:25. The Wildcats regained the lead as Butler scored front the top of the right circle on the puck the deflected in past UVM netminder Rob Madore at 4:08 to make it 6-4. For Butler it was his 50th point of the season as he becomes the first UNH player to register 50 points since Sean Collins and Preston Callander did so in 2004-05 and was his nation-leading 27 goal of the season. Paul Thompson (Derry, N.H.) would add an empty net goal at 18:58 to complete scoring in UNH’s four-goal third period.
The Wildcats took advantage of an early power play opportunity drew first blood in the contest as Butler found the back of the net after receiving a pass from Kessel in the slot, jumping ahead 1-0 at 6:16. Matt Campanale (Chester Springs, Pa.) was also credited with the assist on the play. After holding the lead for nearly seven minutes of the action, the Catamounts answered back with a goal of their own as Jonathan Higgins directed a pass to Drew MacKenzie in the right circle and fired it past UNH goalkeeper Brian Foster (Pembroke, N.H.) to knot the score even at 1-1. However, the score wouldn’t remain deadlocked for long, as Tobia Nilsson-Roos won a faceoff and directed the puck to the top of the left circle where Jay Anctil launched it past a series of defenders and over the right shoulder of Foster, into the back of the net, to jump ahead 2-1 at 17:53 and carried that one-goal lead and an 8-5 shot advantage into the break.
New Hampshire would strike back at the start of the second stanza when Peter LeBlanc (Hamilton, Ontario) won a faceoff at the left circle and directed it behind him to Nick Krates (Palos Park, Ill.) who fired off a laser shot from just inside the blue line over the left shoulder of Madore to even the score 2-2 at 1:27. The Catamounts wouldn’t wait long to respond as Josh Burrows scored a goal after receiving a pass from Brian Roloff, giving Vermont a 3-2 lead. About four minutes later UVM would add to its lead when Higgins found the back of the net to give the visitors a commanding 4-2 advantage. Chris McCarthy and Patrick Cullity were both credited with assists on the play.
Overall, Vermont held a 35-26 shot advantage. The Wildcats were 1-1 on the power play and successfully killed off two Catamount power plays.
UNH and Vermont square off in game two of this best-of-three Hockey East quarterfinal series on Saturday night (7 p.m.) at Whittemore Center. Tickets are still available for game two and can be purchased online at www.UNHWildcats.com or by visiting the Whittemore Center Box Office on game night. For more information including links to live audio, live video, live stats and more log on to www.UNHWildcats.com.