Regan Leads UNH to Finals
by Mike McMahon/Staff Writer
BOSTON It's the high powered offense of New Hampshire that often gets the attention, but it's the goalie that catapulted it into the Hockey East Championship Game.
Kevin Regan made a career-high 44 saves to carry the Wildcats to a 3-2 victory in a double-overtime thriller against Massachusetts.
"It was a great college hockey game," said UNH head coach Dick Umile. "It was back and forth — it was one of those games where the coaches just need to stay out of the way and let the players play.
"Both goalies played great. You have Kevin with the stop he made on [Will] Ortiz and then [Josh] Ciocco comes right up the ice and [Jon] Quick makes a big save on him. Just a great college hockey game."
On a personal note for Regan, he was able to redeem himself from the embarrassing 9-2 loss at the hands of Boston University in last year's semifinal.
"The guys in front were battling so hard, it's hard not to want to battle with them," Regan said. "It's just one of those things, we knew we needed to battle all night to beat these guys, and we did."
Umile, whose team will play for a conference title for the second time in three years, says that Regan is the reason the Wildcats are where they are.
"You can't say enough about the job that Kevin Regan did tonight," said the Hockey East coach of the year. "He has been the backbone of our team. He is the reason that we won the regular season title — he is the reason we beat Providence — he is the reason that we will be playing for the championship. He has been consistent all season for us."
Despite being the top seed in the tournament, you could argue that UNH was the underdog.
UMass was winners of six of their last seven (6-1-0) and had also taken the season series from UNH 2-1, which included a 3-2 win at the Whittemore Center on Oct. 26. UNH was also looking for redemption on the 5-2 beating that UMass put on it in the very same building, in the very same semifinals back in 2003.
The Wildcats were on a streak of their own (at least until last weekend); however it was the opposite of their opponents'.
UNH had won just once in its last seven regular season games (1-6-1) before sweeping Providence out of the playoffs with back-to-back shutouts from Regan, in which he made 84 saves in the two games.
"It's a lot easier when you are facing a lot of shots, as weird as that sounds," Regan said. "A game like tonight is better for a goalie than having a game where you only see 25 shots. Plus our guys did a good job of keeping a lot of the shots to the outside and keeping them out of the grade A opportunities."
Regan was the story yet again for the Wildcats making numerous big saves down the stretch — none bigger than a stop on Ortiz as the UMass freshman broke in alone in the first overtime.
"Not a lot goes through your head really; you just want to make the save," said Regan when describing his mindset when he saw Ortiz break in alone. "Our guys did a good job back-checking on the play and I saw him start to slow down. Then you try to anticipate the shot. I got lucky ... the puck just hit me."
All three goals for UNH were scored by the bottom two lines as Greg Collins, Danny Rossman, and Bobby Butler were the scorers for the Wildcats.
"The top lines have been carrying us all year," Butler said. "It doesn't really matter what line, really whoever shows up shows up. But those guys have been scoring for us all year so it was nice to help them out tonight."