Hockey East Live Blog: UNH Wins Hockey East Title With 3-3 Tie Against BC


March 5, 2010

Hockey East Live Blog: UNH Wins Hockey East Title With 3-3 Tie Against BC Final, 3-3: UNH has won the Hockey East title for the third time in five years.

All it needed to do was tie BC and it was painful at times, but the Wildcats succeeded, scoring three unanswered goals in the third period against BC.

For the second time this season, the Eagles blew a three-goal lead in the third period against UNH, and this time, they'll have to watch as UNH is awarded the conference title.

Scoring for the Eagles were Chris Kreider, Matt Lombardi and Tommy Cross. Scoring for UNH were Blake Kessel, Kevin McCarey and John  Henrion.

The two will meet again in Chestnut Hill, Mass., on Saturday night, but now they are playing for little else besides potential NCAA tournament resume padding.

Overtime, 33 seconds, 3-3: Parker Milner makes his best save of the night, getting the tip of his skate on a 1-on-1 bid by Paul Thompson that is about an inch away from trickling over the line.

Overtime, 1:49, 3-3: Brian Foster makes another huge glove save, this time on a wraparound bid by Jimmy Hayes.

The Eagles now have more shots in four minutes of overtime than they did in all of the third period.

Overtime, 3:31, 3-3: Maine lost tonight, so BC will finish in second place in Hockey East if it loses to or ties UNH three minutes from now.

Overtime, 4:38, 3-3: BC comes out strong, as Brian Foster makes a brilliant save on the forehand by Cam Atkinson.

End of regulation, 3-3: We're headed for overtime. It's score now or forever hold your peace for the Eagles.

Blake Kessel was helped off the ice at the whistle and he's headed to the dressing room. He's  limping pretty badly; it doesn't look good. He got nailed on the inside of the ankle, where there's no padding, by a shot.

Third period, 23.1 seconds, 3-3: Brian Foster makes a huge save on a one-timer by Philip Samuelsson to preserve the tie. It looked like he wasn't sure where the rebound was. (It was under his pad.)

Third period, 3:22, 3-3: You have to believe UNH will pull this one out. The Whittemore Center is going nuts and BC has done absolutely nothing this period to prove it has anything left. 

UNH is outshooting BC 10-2 this period.

Just a reminder — if UNH can get out of here with a tie, it wins Hockey East.

Third period, 3:55, 3-3: And that is deja vu.

Little Kessel (Blake) rifles one past Parker Milner from between the circles.

BC was horrendous on that power play. It didn't clear the puck once.

Third period, 5:22, BC 3-2: The Wildcats will get another power-play opportunity at the best possible time, as Joe Whitney is whistled for tripping.

UNH is 0-for-1 on the power play with zero shots.

Third period, 6:22, BC 3-2: UNH has trailed 10 games going into the third and has won four of them. In other words, if the Wildcats can pull off a win here, it wouldn't be shocking.

Third period, 7:08, BC 3-2: The Wildcats are outshooting BC 8-2 in this period.

Third period, 11:25, BC 3-2: Uh oh.

Phil DeSimone throws in the puck from the slot and Kevin McCarey buries the rebound, and suddenly, this is a game.

BC is now playing the way UNH played for the first 40 minutes of this game: completely flat.

Third period, 12:42, BC 3-1: BC kills off the final 40 seconds or so of the UNH power play.

Third period, 14:24, BC 3-1: Peter LeBlanc gets a short-handed opportunity, coming in 1-on-1 against Parker Milner, and Steven Whitney reaches out and slashes him as he crashes the net, so he'll head into the box, too.

There will be a 4-on-4 for about 1:20. 

BC is suddenly playing a very shaky game.

Third period, 15:17, BC 3-1: We've got our first penalty of the game, and it goes against UNH's Greg Burke, who's in the box for tripping.

Third period, 15:44, BC 3-1: Billy Butler steals the puck in the neutral zone and comes in down the right side and snaps a shot off, but Parker Milner reaches out the glove to deflect it.

Third period, 16:39, BC 3-1:  Another good sign for the Wildcats — they're outshooting BC 4-0 in this period.

Third period, 18:14, BC 3-1: It has begun.

Coming off a faceoff, John Henrion flips the puck right over Parker Milner's shoulder. It happened so fast, it looked like Milner didn't even see the puck until it was behind him.

It's Henrion's third of the year, and it should infuse some energy into this team.

Third period, 19:01, BC 3-0: We're underway in the third period. Can UNH mount another epic comeback, or will BC become the first (and last) Hockey East team to beat UNH on its home ice in the regular season?

End of second period, BC 3-0: There's some good news and some bad news for UNH fans.

I'll start with the bad. The Wildcats are down 3-0 to Hockey East's best defense, which allows just 2.41 goals per game.

The good news is this: The last time these two teams faced each other, BC took a 3-0 lead into the third period and blew the whole thing, and that one ended in a 4-4 tie.

BC is now outshooting UNH 25-15, and the energy has been sucked out of the Whittemore Center since the officials awarded that controversial goal to Matt Lombardi.

UNH will need a big defensive collapse in order to pull this one out.

Second period, 1:49, BC 3-0: Brian Foster stops BC's transition game cold, as Joe Whitney tries to go to the backhand and Foster gets the pad on it. It was probably his best save of the night.

Second period, 5:09, BC 3-0: Fun stat, courtesy of NESN's Jim White — there have been 27 goals in Hockey East play so far tonight.

Second period, 6:02, BC 3-0: UNH's offense is starting to heat up, getting off a couple of quality shots against Milner, but there's nobody in front of the net to get rebounds and BC keeps clearing the puck.

One clear leads to a 1-on-1 chance for Steven Whitney against Brian Foster, but Foster makes the stop.

Second period, 7:25, BC 3-0: Hockey East's top goal scorer Bobby Butler fires one from the right circle but Parker Milner corrals it nicely.

Second period, 7:59, BC 3-0: The always dangerous Cam Atkinson almost makes it 4-0, just missing the handle on a centering pass.

Second period, 9:43, BC 3-0: Midway through the period, UNH is starting to increase its pressure and get some chances against Parker Milner. Looks like the Wildcats are finally starting to warm up.

Phil DeSimone snags a turnover and takes it up the left side, firing a shot from the circle but Carl Sneep blocks it.

Second period, 12:15, BC 3-0: The Eagles are now outshooting the Wildcats 18-12. Make that 19-12.

Second period, 14:19, BC 3-0: This is unraveling fast for the Wildcats.

BC defenseman Ben Smith wins a battle against the boards and dishes to Tommy Cross in the slot, who streaks in and dumps it in past Brian Foster.

That's Smiths' second assist of the game.

Second period, 15:07, BC 2-0: That's rookie Dumoulin's 15th assist of 2009-10. 

UNH has yet to get a shot off this period.

Second period, 15:25, BC 2-0: And this home crowd is not happy. Neither is  UNH head coach Dick Umile. The officials call it a goal. 

It appears that the puck bounces out of the net as the whistle blows, anyway, so by all indications, the refs got the call right (and I'm not just saying that because of what my bio says).

Second period, 15:45, BC 1-0: That was as perfect of a play as you can find — too bad it doesn't count.

BC's Brian Dumoulin comes up with a breakaway in the neutral zone and dishes across the ice to Matt Lombardi in the left circle, who rockets a one-timer right past Brian Foster for a goal.

The only problem is, there was a whistle sometime before Lombardi got the shot off.

There's a stoppage as we try to figure out whether the referees signaled the goal, and what the penalty was for.

Second period, 16:06, BC 1-0: Shot advantage update — the Eagles are now outshooting the Wildcats 16-10. BC has the only two shots of the period thus far.

Second period, 17:02, BC 1-0: The Eagles are coming out strong, here, keeping the puck in the UNH zone and really pressuring the Wildcats defense and Brian Foster.

Second period, 19:38, BC 1-0: We're underway in the second at the Whittemore Center.

During the first intermission, Eagles assists leader Ben Smith referred to the Eagles' play during the first period as "quietly intense." We'll see if they can keep it up.

End of first period, BC 1-0: The Eagles are exactly where they want to be heading into the first intermission. Facing the best team in the league on the road, they are up a goal and have all the momentum.

Rookie goaltender Parker Milner has been spectacular for BC, stopping a UNH bid 12 seconds into the action and holding on for 10 saves throughout the first 20 minutes.

Scoring for the Eagles was Chris Kreider, who lit the lamp with just under eight minutes remaining in the first frame.

BC outshot the Wildcats 14-10. We'll see if UNH can regroup and rebound on its home ice, where it has yet to lose a game in conference play this year.

First period, 4:23, BC 1-0: UNH's Connor Hardowa snaps one in from the blue line, but Joe Whitney blocks it.

Lots of action in front of Parker Milner for about a minute. The Wildcats are turning it up a notch.

First period, 6:12, BC 1-0: The Eagles are now outshooting the Wildcats 11-8.

Just for the record, UNH has yet to lose a home game in conference play this season.

First period, 7:27, BC 1-0: The Eagles strike first.

BC grabs a turnover on the blue line and Jimmy Hayes takes it up in transition, dishing to Chris Kreider in the neutral zone. Kreider tallies his ninth in  his last 10 games. He crashes the net and hits the stick of a UNH defenseman, pushing the puck past Brian Foster.

It's Kreider's 12th of the year.

First period, 11:10: The shots are evened up now, with each side notching five apiece.

First period, 14:22: Chris Kreider comes in against Brian Foster but can't quite find Jimmy Hayes with the centering pass, and the opportunity is lost.

First period, 15:02: It'll be interesting to see who Jerry York decides to go with in the Hockey East tournament. Parker Milner got hot after the Beanpot (which John Muse was the MVP of), and he's obviously been hot through his last four starts.

This weekend could do a lot to determine the starter for the postseason, but you have to figure that if Milner can snag a win tonight and give BC a shot of winning the Hockey East title, York couldn't deny him the chance to start when the pressure is really on.

First period, 17:19: There's a lot of talk about UNH's home ice being Olympic-sized (although it's bigger than the ice that was used in Vancouver), and how much of an advantage that grants the Wildcats.

To prepare, BC practiced at Dexter this week. 

In the early going here, BC has three shots on goal.

First period, 17:57: UNH's Bobby Butler — a Hobey Baker candidate — has 39 points in conference play and 45 overall, leading the Wildcats. We'll see if he can victimize Parker Milner and the Eagles tonight.

First period, 19:39: We're underway, and Brian Foster is in net for UNH on Senior Night.

This is Foster's 32nd start. He is just the eighth goaltender in UNH history to amass 2,000 or more saves in his career.

7:14 p.m.: Parker Milner will be in net for the Eagles tonight in lieu of John Muse.

Milner is 4-0-0 over his last four games with a 0.93 GAA.

4:21 p.m.: It all comes down to this weekend for UNH and BC.

The No. 1 and No. 2 teams in Hockey East will duke it out in the final two games of the regular season to determine who will take the league title in 2009-10. As of now, UNH is three points ahead of the Eagles and a win on Friday night will allow them to clinch the title — and, more importantly, home ice in the Hockey East tournament. BC would need to sweep the weekend series in order to steal the title.

The Wildcats are playing exactly the way they want to as the season comes to a close, riding a five-game unbeaten streak and averaging 4.00 goals per game across that stretch.

BC, however, boasts the nation's fourth-best offense, scoring 3.75 goals per game. The Eagles have been riding a nice little streak of their own, taking three straight, including a 2-1 overtime win over UMass last weekend.

The last time these two powerhouses met, they skated to a 4-4 tie on Nov. 11.

Check back for updates before the puck drops at Whittemore Arena at 7:30 p.m.

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