UNH men’s hockey team lets one slip away again, losing to BC, 4-2

Last modified: 12/11/2014 12:39:45 AM
CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. – Leads in both games of a weekend set against Boston College resulted in only one point in the standings to show for them.

With the University of New Hampshire men’s hockey team’s 4-2 loss to the Eagles last night, a series that was looked at to possibly help make up for the Wildcats’ slow start just ended up defining it.

“We came out ahead 1-0, and in 30 seconds we were down 2-1,” Coach Dick Umile said. “We just had a 30-second shift there, or 30 seconds where the game turned around on us.”

The Wildcats (4-9-1, 1-5-1 Hockey East) let a lead slip away in the third period at home on Friday night, but managed to salvage an important point with a 2-2 tie. They weren’t so fortunate last night at Conte Forum, not after the No. 17 Eagles (8-7-1, 4-4-1) responded to a 1-0 first intermission deficit by bombarding, and ultimately burying, the visitors with three goals within the first nine minutes of the second period.

“I don’t know if we were like a deer (in the headlights), we just couldn’t even see,” Umile said. “I don’t know what it was. It just happened so fast.”

BC ratcheted up the intensity to start the second frame and was quickly rewarded, with Teddy Doherty taking the puck at the right wall, skating into the circle and firing a shot that stayed low and beat Adam Clark (29 saves) to tie the game 4:29 into the period.

The crowd was still serenading Clark and taunting the Wildcats when the Eagles won the ensuing faceoff and struck again. Austin Cangelosi took a feed from Auburn native Zach Sanford and skated up toward Clark, trying a backhand from his cramped spot at the side of the crease. The shot went high enough to get over Clark’s shoulder, giving BC a 2-1 lead only 16 seconds after tying the game.

“That was the difference in the game,” Umile said. “Credit to them. … (It’s) what they can do. They’re quick, good transition team. Before we knew it, we were behind 2-1.”

The advantage went to two goals 8:54 into the period, when Quinn Smith sent a puck in from near the right point and Chris Calnan redirected it between Clark’s pads from the front of the crease.

“The third goal, we turned it over at the offensive blue line and it was a shot from the side,” Umile said. “(Clark’s) played great for us … but that was misplayed.”

UNH called a timeout after the third goal, then cut the gap in half on the power play with 5:20 to go in the second. A clearing effort by BC behind the net didn’t get through, allowing Matt Willows to gather the puck and take it toward the crease. The senior captain dangled around goalie Thatcher Demko (25 saves), then beat the netminder with a backhand to notch his second goal of the game and make it 3-2.

“We were just trying to stop the momentum,” Umile said. “We were kind of in awe of everything, we didn’t want it to get away from us.”

The power play, the 54th-ranked unit in the nation going into last night and a normal source for frustration for the Wildcats, produced the first goal of the game, as well. BC penalties at 15:49 and 16:24 of the first period gave UNH a chunk of time with a 5-on-3 advantage, and the Wildcats cashed in with seven seconds remaining when Grayson Downing passed down to Andrew Poturalski, who then found John Furgele for a shot from the slot that nicked off Willows’s stick in front and in at 17:42 of the period.

“It’s something we’ve got to improve on still,” Umile said of the power-play performance. “Tonight it was an important (factor).”

UNH came in with a 4-0 record in games it led after the first period, and the Wildcats were liking their chances at a fifth such win – and two big points in Hockey East.

“We felt good,” Umile said. “Then we come out in the second period and all of a sudden … I don’t think we were nervous, but the thing turned around on us very quickly.”

UNH needed one more goal to make up for the Eagles’ flurry, but instead had to regret what-ifs and barely-missed chances. The biggest came when Willows was stopped by Demko on a shorthanded breakaway attempt with 27 seconds left, preventing UNH from doubling its breathing room, but Maxim Gaudreault also missed up close when he went in alone with 12:39 to go, Downing fired high from the slot 41 seconds later, and UNH couldn’t take advantage of a power play with 3:23 to go and an extra attacker when Clark was pulled shortly after it expired.

Instead, Calnan scored on the empty net with 1:13 to go, sealing the victory for the Eagles.

“We had chances, even with the goalie pulled,” Umile said. “The guys competed hard over the weekend, it was good hockey the whole weekend.”

(Drew Bonifant can be reached at 369-3340 or abonifant@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @dbonifant.)

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