Amherst, Mass. - Sophomore forward Daniel Winnik scored 15:06 into overtime to lift second-seeded New Hampshire to a 3-2 win against No. 3 Harvard in semifinal action at the NCAA Northeast Regional on Saturday at the Mullins Center in Amherst, Mass.
With the win, the Wildcats advance to face the Denver Pioneers, the defending national champions, in the regional final on Sunday at 12 noon. The game will be telecast in New England by CN8 (Comcast) and can be seen nationally on ESPNU.
New Hampshire got a few early scoring chances from sophomore forward Jacob Micflikier, but Harvard senior goaltender Dov Grumet-Morris made the early saves to get himself into the game.
The Crimson gained a 1-0 lead 9:26 into the opening frame when sophomore forward Ryan Maki picked up his tenth goal of the season. Maki was sent across the blue line by sophomore forward Kevin Du. Maki then cut towards the middle and quickly shot the puck back against the grain and inside the left post.
Harvard nearly capitalized right off the next faceoff when junior forward Charlie Johnson walked in on a breakaway but UNH freshman goaltender Kevin Regan made a right pad save.
Grumet-Morris made later first period saves on a redirection by UNH sophomore Josh Ciocco and a power-play stuff attempt by senior forward Preston Callander to send the Crimson into the first intermission with a 1-0 lead.
The Wildcats would take advantage on a power play at 7:35 of the second period to tie the game. As the Wildcats crossed the offensive line, a Harvard defender attempted to knock the puck out of the zone, but senior defenseman Tyson Teplitsky made a nice play to glove the puck down. He then fed senior forward Sean Collins in between the circles and Collins wristed a shot past the blocker of Grumet-Morris to pick up his 19th goal of the season and make it a 1-1 game.
Harvard would strike quickly to retake the lead just eight seconds later. Senior forward Andrew Lederman gathered a UNH clear attempt along the right wall. His shot was stopped by Regan, but freshman forward Alex Meintel was able to chip a backhander over Regan's shoulder. It was Meintel's first goal of the season and the Crimson had a 2-1 lead.
Callander set up a scoring chance with about five minutes to play in the middle period. Callander carried into the left circle and made a pull-up move for a shot that was stopped by Grumet-Morris. Follow-up shots by Micflikier and sophomore forward Brett Hemingway were also denied by the Harvard netminder.
It was Callander that would bring UNH into a 2-2 tie when he scored at the tail-end of a Wildcat power play early in the third period. Collins created the play by carrying off the right wing board, having his first shot blocked, but getting his second effort to the front of the net. Callander found the loose puck and potted his team-leading 25th goal of the season to tie the game at 3:44 of the third frame.
While UNH carried the play for much of the remainder of the third period, both teams had fantastic chances to end the game in the final minutes of regulation. Harvard sophomore forward Steve Mandes was denied by Regan's blocker with just under three minutes to play. Collins was stopped on a partial break with about 1:30 left, and Callander had a redirection go just wide a few moments later.
The play was surprisingly wide open for stretches of the overtime. Maki and Mendes both had good chances for the Crimson in the opening minutes of the extra session. UNH's Hemingway put a shot wide on a Wildcat 2-on-1. Sophomore forward Mike Radja created his own opportunity by wheeling around the offensive end, but his wrist shot was controlled by Grumet-Morris.
Collins again would get a partial break-in with just over 8:00 to play in the overtime, but he was bothered from behind and Grumet-Morris was able to knock the puck away with a poke check.
The game-winner was set up by a nice sequence of UNH passing. A Wildcat breakout pass found Micfliker at center ice, and he carried over the Crimson blueline before pulling up and waiting for teammates. Micfliker fed a pass to senior forward Justin Aikins as he entered the offensive end at the center of the blue line, and Aikins snapped a pass to Winnik who was streaking towards the net in the left circle. Winnik was able to redirect the puck through the pads of Grumet-Morris for his 17th goal of the season.
Regan finished with 39 saves to pick up the win in the Wildcat net. Grumet-Morris finished with 43 stops for the Crimson.