BOSTON, Mass. – Senior Mike Warner (Waltham, MA) scored two of Massachusetts’ four third-period goals as the Minutemen came-from-behind to defeat #8 New Hampshire in the second Hockey East semifinal on Friday night in front of a sellout 17,565 crowd at the FleetCenter in Boston.
With the win, the Minutemen advance to Saturday night’s Hockey East Championship game to face #2 Maine, who won earlier in the day by defeating eighth-seeded Boston University 1-0. The game is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. at the FleetCenter and will be televised live by NESN. It will be Massachusetts’ first-ever appearance in the Hockey East title game.
Warner scored the game-winning goal with 5:28 remaining in the third period off a scramble at the right side of the net. Kevin Jarman (Aurora, Ont.) fed Stephen Werner (Chevy Chase, Md.) behind the Wildcat net and Werner’s centering pass bounced around in front. Warner was able to chip the puck over UNH goaltender Mike Ayers (Hingham, Mass.) to give the Minutemen a 3-2 lead.
UMass, which trailed 2-0 a one point of the game, entered the third period down by a goal but would draw even at 7:02 of the third period when Peter Trovato (North Attleboro, Mass.) scored with assists from Sean Regan (South Boston, Mass.) and Jarman. Trovato gloved down a puck at the side of the net and got a shot away from between the circles to score his 4th goal of the season.
Massachusetts senior defenseman and Hobey Baker finalist Thomas Pöck (Klagenfurt, Austria) would give UMass a 4-2 lead on a screenshot from the point at 17:04 of the final frame. Tim Vitek (Dresden, Ont.) won a face-off and Jeff Lang (Weston, Mass.) tipped it back to Pöck who registered his 16th goal of the year.
Warner closed the scoring with an empty-net goal with 1:55 remaining.
Hockey East CCM Player of the Year Steve Saviano (Reading, Mass.) scored his 27th goal of the season at 13:41 of the first period. Creating a turnover just inside the UMass blueline, Saviano’s shot was initially stopped by UMass goaltender Tim Warner (Waltham, Mass.), but as the goaltender fell backwards into the crease the puck rolled across the line to give UNH a 1-0 lead.
UNH freshman Jacob Micflikier (Winnipeg, Man.) would make it a 2-0 Wildcat lead at 3:30 of the second frame. Micflikier chased down a loose puck in the UMass right circle, cut across in front of the net and slid the puck under Warner. It was Micflikier’s 11th goal of the season. Tim Horst and Mick Mounsey were credited with assists.
The Minutemen would net the game’s next goal to cut the Wildcat lead to 2-1. Vitek broke up a UNH clearing effort at the blue line and his shot from the high slot was redirected in by Greg Mauldin (Holliston, Mass.) for his 14th goal of the season at 10:21 of the second period.
Tim Warner finished with 27 saves in the UMass net, while Ayers made 28 stops for the Wildcats. The loss for Ayers was the first for the senior netminder in his career to the Minutemen (8-1-1).
It was the fourth all-time Hockey East playoff meeting between the schools and the second-straight season the teams have met in the semifinals. New Hampshire now leads the all-time playoff series, 3-1.
The Minutemen improve to 19-11-6, while the Wildcats fall to 20-14-6.
It was the second consecutive year that the Hockey East semifinals have drawn a sell-out crowd of 17,565 to the FleetCenter.