No. 11 UNH men’s hockey falls to Boston College, 3-2

  • UNH freshman forward Eric MacAdams handles the puck near BC’s Connor Moore on Friday night at the Whittemore Center in Durham. MacAdams scored the first goal of his collegiate career, but the Wildcats fell to the Eagles, 3-2. Joey Walker / UNH Athletics

  • UNH’s Liam Blackburn (26) and Charlie Kelleher (23) look to the puck as BC’s Michael Kim (2 goals) closes in during a Hockey East game at the Whittemore Center in Durham on Friday, Nov. 17, 2017. Joey Walker / UNH Athletics

Monitor staff
Saturday, November 18, 2017

DURHAM – Ara Nazarian thought luck was on his side when the puck skipped off the glass and ricocheted out to the slot just a few feet from the crease with no goaltender in sight.

Turns out the hockey gods had someone else in mind for a heroic play during Boston College’s 3-2 win over the University of New Hampshire on Friday night at the Whittemore Center.

Nazarian quickly shot the puck toward the wide-open net, the home crowd already cheering for what everyone in the building thought was the game-tying goal late in the third period.

Everyone except for Boston College goaltender Joseph Woll.

Woll, who had skated into the corner to handle the puck that was cleared along the glass into the zone, reacted perfectly as the puck took an unexpected route to the edge of the crease. Lunging toward the net, Woll stuck out his glove and robbed the Wildcats of a chance in overtime.

The save was made with six minutes left and the conference-leading Boston College Eagles held on for the victory.

“The puck was bouncing and I got a good piece on it, but obviously you guys saw the save he made,” Nazarian told reporters after the game.

Even Boston College Coach Jerry York, who has spent more than four decades coaching the college game, was amazed by the play.

“I don’t know how he caught it,” York said. “That’s an incredible save. The outcome of a game hinges on different things like that – a crazy bounce, an unbelievable save.”

The Wildcats (6-4-1, 3-3-1 Hockey East) have been snake-bit in the offensive end these last few games. After scoring 31 goals in their first eight contests, the offense slowed to a near halt with one goal in their last two games before Friday’s tilt.

Chris Miller and Eric MacAdams, a freshman, provided the spark that gave UNH a pair of one-goal leads over the Eagles (7-5-1, 7-1-0) before BC captain Michael Kim tied it, 2-2, midway through the second period. 

Miller lifted the Wildcats to their first lead 4:30 into the game. Nazarian gathered the puck near the left side boards, cut toward the net with a BC defender on his hip, and slid the puck up to Miller flying into the slot. The pass hit Miller’s stick on the tape and the junior from Windham fired it past Woll (23 saves).

UNH nearly took a two-goal lead later in the period after Max Gildon sent a shot from the top of the left circle that trickled through Woll’s legs. The puck sat in idle on the crease for close to three seconds before Woll fell back and covered it.

The Eagles were within inches of tying the score with 30 seconds left in the period but Kim’s shot hit the post and BC trailed 1-0 in the first intermission.

“When the fish comes out on the ice like that in the very first period, we had to tighten up after that,” York said, pointing to UNH’s tradition of throwing a fish on the ice after scoring its first goal.

David Cotton, a Carolina Hurricanes prospect, delivered the equalizing goal for BC just 1:49 into the second period. Jacob Tortora cut a semicircle around the net and sent a shot across the crease that deflected off UNH netminder Danny Tirone. Cotton was there to put away the rebound goal.

The Wildcats pulled ahead for a second time six minutes later. Eric MacAdams, a freshman out of Salem, Mass., scored the first goal of his career after picking up a loose puck in the other end. After he crossed the blue line, MacAdams used a toe drag to evade a BC defender sliding across the slot looking to block the shot. As the Eagle passed, MacAdams patiently stepped by and beat Woll’s glove, giving the Wildcats a 2-1 advantage. 

“I just tried to get around him and get a shot off,” MacAdams said. “It felt really good, especially in that crowd, too. A bunch of wild fans, that was a great feeling.”

The celebration was short-lived as BC tied it up again two minutes later. Richard Boyd went to the box for elbowing and Kim scored a minute into the power play.

After the second break, Kim answered again for the Eagles, earning his team their first lead of the game on an even-strength goal 8:21 into the third. 

Any chance the Wildcats created to try and force overtime was stopped by either the quick work by Woll in the crease or a smart block by a BC defenseman. 

BC took a pair of penalties in close proximity with less than nine minutes to play, including 25 seconds of a 5-on-3 power play for UNH. 

But the Wildcats couldn’t get a shot on goal with the two-man advantage, despite Michael McNicholas winning the faceoff in BC’s end. Max Gildon sent a hard clapper into traffic, but the puck deflected off a stick and into the student section at the Whittemore Center. 

“Tonight, I thought we competed, so I was pleased with that,” UNH Coach Dick Umile said. “But we’ve got to find ways to score. We got to get some of those ugly goals, throwing it to the net and rebound kind of goals. We had some nice plays, but nothing to show for it.”

UNH is on the road for their next two games, first at Yale on Nov. 25 and then Providence on Dec. 1. They return to the Whittemore Center on Dec. 2 against Providence.

Injury update

Forwards Brendan van Riemsdyk, Charlie Kelleher and Marcus Vela were all back in the lineup after missing last weekend with injuries. Still missing were forwards Shane Eiserman (knee) and Joe Sacco (shoulder).

Eagles dominate

Boston College is now 8-0-2 in its last 10 games against UNH. The last time UNH defeated BC was Jan. 12, 2013, in Durham. Umile and company will head to Chestnut Hill on Jan. 14 for the second and final game of UNH’s season series with the Eagles.

BC started the season going 1-5-1 in its first seven games. The Eagles have since won six straight.

Mr. 3,000

Tirone made 26 saves Friday night, bringing his career total 3,016. The senior alternate captain is the second UNH netminder to reach the 3,000 mark, joining Kevin Regan who made 3,235 saves in his career from 2004 to 2008.

(Nick Stoico can be reached at 369-3339, nstoico@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @NickStoico.)