DURHAM, N.H. — When your goaltender is in possession of the puck after making a save, it is not a very good idea to trip the nearest opponent, particularly with five minutes left in a tie game.
That is the lesson that Boston College junior left wing Kevin Hayes learned when he was whistled off for tripping at 14:59 of the third period Saturday night.
Just 13 seconds later, fourth-ranked New Hampshire made him pay. Senior right wing John Henrion, who had an outstanding game, collected a rebound and beat senior goaltender Parker Milner on a backhand shot to lift the Wildcats over the No. 3 Eagles, 2-1, in front of a sold-out crowd of 6,501 at the Whittemore Center. The teams earned a split of their weekend series, with BC now 13-4-2 (10-3-1 Hockey East) and UNH 14-4-2 (9-3-1).
“It was a great game, it was an important game for us, obviously, to come back after [Friday’s 5-2 loss at BC],’’ said UNH coach Dick Umile. “I thought the pace of the game was great right from the beginning. We competed much harder defensively tonight than we did [Friday].’’
In one of the faster periods of the season, BC and UNH were scoreless through 20 minutes, although both sides had scoring chances.
At 4:49, freshman defenseman Colin Sullivan lost his footing and the Wildcats took off on a three-on-one break. Henrion had a terrific low shot but Milner (37 saves) made an excellent stop.
At 13:45, BC senior right wing Steven Whitney collected a pass from sophomore left wing Johnny Gaudreau and tested sophomore goalie Casey DeSmith (22 saves) from the right side, but DeSmith handled the chance.
UNH freshman left wing Maxim Gaudreault had a bid from the left circle with 15 seconds remaining in the first but the shot glanced off Milner’s glove.
The second period was more eventful and penalty-laden, with BC assessed 21 of the 23 minutes called.
Just 58 seconds in, sophomore defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk almost put UNH on the board by jamming at the puck from just outside the right post, but Milner kept it out.
UNH sophomore right wing Matt Willows had a partial breakaway at 10:45 but couldn’t convert.
At 13:20, BC freshman defenseman Michael Matheson was whistled off for hitting junior center Kevin Goumas in the head as Matheson exited the penalty box.
Matheson got a five-minute major and game misconduct, giving the Wildcats a power play. At 15:59 Hayes was called for cross-checking, giving UNH a two-man advantage for two minutes.
One of the best chances for the Wildcats came off the stick of senior right wing Austin Block, who fired from the left side of the goal line. Milner made the stop but appeared to be hurt on the play. After a couple of minutes with the trainer he remained in the game.
Block had another opportunity at 17:06 from outside the left post but he couldn’t cash in, and BC killed off the penalties.
The Wildcats took the lead with 46.3 seconds remaining in the second on Willows’s first career tally.
Left wing Dan Correale did much of the work on the setup. Correale skated the puck down the right side and drove wide on BC defenseman Patrick Wey. Correale cut toward the net and threw a backhanded centering pass to Willows.
Willows waited out Milner, and with the goalie lying prone on the ice he flipped the puck over him from just outside the left post.
BC knotted it at 7:57 of the third. Correale tried to make a pass from the right boards to center Jay Camper but the puck didn’t find its target. Instead it sailed out into the slot where senior Brooks Dyroff was waiting. He teed up a slapper and rifled it past DeSmith.
BC thought it had a penalty shot at 18:05 when Goumas appeared to cover the puck in the Eagles’ crease but it was not to be after the officials discussed it.
“I think it was probably a fun game for the fans to watch,’’ said BC associate head coach Mike Cavanaugh, who along with Greg Brown filled in for Jerry York, who is recovering from eye surgery. “I thought New Hampshire played extremely well. I was pretty proud of our guys, too. We killed a lot of penalties in the second period and I thought we played our best period in the third period. We were able to tie the game up and New Hampshire got the late power-play goal.
“I said [on Friday] it’s two good hockey teams playing and I expected that same type of game tonight and I think that’s what the fans got.’’