UNH Loses Bounce
by Matt Taylor/CHN Reporter
BOSTON Hockey is a sport well known for bounces and "puck luck" that can be the difference between winning and losing. Saturday night at the TD Banknorth Garden, a group of such plays contributed to New Hampshire's bridesmaid status in the Hockey East final for the fifth time.
With Boston College holding a 2-0 lead and time winding down in the second period, UNH goaltender Kevin Regan, who had made 128 saves in the previous three games, misplayed a puck in the corner while under pressure from Nathan Gerbe. Gerbe then chipped the puck in front where tournament MVP Brock Bradford deposited it.
Early in the third, Bobby Butler, who scored the game winner in double overtime Friday against Massachusetts in the semifinals, broke in alone on Cory Schneider but the puck rolled and he didn't get off a shot.
Less than five minutes later, Schneider made a save with his mask while on the penalty kill. He then made an outlet pass to Brian Boyle which resulted in a rare four-on-none, which Gerbe capitalized on, sealing the Wildcats' fate in what was eventually a 4-2 final.
"Obviously we're disappointed with the way we played," said UNH coach Dick Umile. "Not to take anything away from what Boston College did, but we gave then some goals tonight that we're very disappointed in."
It was the seventh Lamoriello Trophy for the Eagles, who took control on the strength of two 4-on-4 goals in the first period from Matt Greene and Benn Ferriero. Both were the result of turnovers in the Wildcat end, and it put them in an early hole.
"The last two times we've played them we've given them a 2-0 lead and you can't do that against Boston College," Umile said.
UNH leading scorer Trevor Smith agreed with Umile's assessment.
"They came out strong and kind of caught us off guard a bit," the sophomore and all-Hockey East first team member said. "They capitalized right away and put us behind the 8-ball."
Even after falling behind 4-0, the explosive Wildcat offense was never out of it, crawling back to within two. Butler's goal was deflected in by BC forward-turned-defenseman Brian Boyle; Smith's was converted off a beautiful behind the back pass from Jerry Pollastrone.
"Any bounce that goes in the net is something positive," said Smith of Butler's ninth goal of the season. "I think it gave us a spark and you could tell we had a little jump after that."
New Hampshire was playing its second straight game without senior Brett Hemingway, whose 13 goals is tied for third on the team.
"He's really a tremendous player and he would have added another element to that game," said all-tournament goaltender Schneider of Boston College. "We got a fortunate break with him out of the lineup."
The focus for the Wildcats now shifts to the NCAA tournament, where they will host the Manchester regional next weekend at the Verizon Wireless Arena.
"The only positive tonight after this loss is that we're at least playing next weekend," the Hockey East Coach of the Year said. "We'll have to play better to compete in the NCAA tournament."
Smith would like another shot at the Eagles down the road.
"We kind of said in the handshake that maybe we'd see them again," the North Vancouver, B.C., native said. "It'd be nice to see them again and give them 100 percent UNH hockey."
Smith knows that his team will be ready when the time comes to pursue their first national championship next weekend.
"It's nice to have another chance, we're not out of anything," he said. "We've got another championship to play for."