A flurry of activity in the third period and overtime lead to one of the most exciting 2-2 draws of the season for the UNH and Boston College squads on Friday night. Thatcher Demko tied his season-high for saves in a game this season with 37 on the night, including five in overtime.
“I thought our goaltender Thather Demko played very, very well during the course of the game,” BC head coach Jerry York said. “The second goal might’ve gone off one of our skates … I thought he made big saves and looked very strong in goal.”
Boston College got the scoring started at 13:06 of the first period from New Hampshire-native Zach Sanford. The Eagles cycled the puck in the UNH zone and Michael Matheson fired a long shot from the point. The puck appeared to hit a BC skater on the left hand side of the net and it trickled across the crease. Sanford was uncovered and put the puck past UNH netminder Adam Clark for his second goal of the season.
Clark made 26 saves for the Wildcats, with none being bigger than a diving save he made early in the second period. BC’s Ryan Fitzgerald put a shot on his leg pad that skittered off to the left faceoff circle. Defenseman Teddy Doherty received the puck and put a shot on net that appeared to be open, by Clark twisted his body and got his glove in the way, knocking it aside it spectacular fashion.
UNH’s first score came at 9:01 in the second period. Tyler Kelleher generated seven shots on goal in the game, peppering Demko with looks from all over the zone. Taking the puck from the left boards, he unleashed a laser shot that rang off the right post and ricocheted into the back of the net. UNH head coach Dick Umile made a number of changes to the lineup, moving Kelleher up to the second line to play alongside senior Grayson Downing and freshman Michael McNicholas, who was playing in just his fifth game this season.
“[McNicholas] has really good skill, he’s an unbelievable player,” Kelleher said. “He likes to make plays and has a quick mind out there. I think it fits me and Grayson’s play a lot; we like to make plays … and he makes simple, quick plays.”
UNH took a lead towards the end of the second period on a wacky play created by captain Matt Willows. Willows carried it into the zone and fired a shot that hit the skates of a BC defenseman. While Demko and the rest of the Eagles were looking for the puck, Willows saw an opening in front and put a shot off the leg of an Eagle defenseman. The puck caromed off his leg and went into the back of the net, to give UNH its first lead of the game and his fifth goal of the year.
“I just threw it there, I saw a bunch of traffic in front and that’s what we’ve been trying to do: just get the puck to the net and good things will happen,” Willows said. “I tried to get it in front … I wanted it to go off someone or go off the goalie’s pad for a rebound. I saw two of our guys in front and hopefully something good happens.”
Late in the period, BC thought they scored a powerplay goal when Ryan Fitzgerald knocked home a puck that was sitting on the goal line after a Clark save. The referees convened to review the goal, and after a minute, they ruled Clark wasn’t awarded the ability to “play his position”, ruling it goaltender interference and no goal.
In a hard-fought third period, UNH had a number of chances to increase its lead. Kelleher hit the crossbar on a shot that Demko got a piece of, then Willows responded with a pipe shot of his own that went off the top left corner of the net. Following that attempt, Austin Cangelos received the puck in the UNH zone, carrying it all the way into the slot. With no defensemen closing in on him, Cangelos fired a wrister that beat Clark over his glove and tied the game at 2 apiece.
The Eagles wasted no time in the overtime to generate offense when Fitzgerald broke through the UNH defense for what York called a “semi-breakaway”. Going left-to-right, Fitzgerald tried to tuck his shot underneath Clark, but he got his left leg in the way to deny the shot.
UNH dominated possession for the remainder of the period, but were unable to get any real scoring chances as the clock expired. Each team earned one point with the tie, but Umile felt there was much to be desired.
“Points are hard to come by. We had a chance to win it [being up 2-1 with five minutes left], but they made a great play on the goal to tie the game,” Umile said. “We hit a couple of pipes, but that’s the way it goes.”
The teams will conclude the series on Saturday night in Chapel Hill. UNH now holds a record of 4-8-1, while Boston College is 7-7-1.