DURHAM, N.H. – Bobby Butler (Marlboro, Mass.) scored the game-winning power-play goal at 1:36 of overtime to lift the 13th-ranked University of New Hampshire men’s ice hockey team to Saturday night’s 3-2 victory against the University of Massachusetts in Hockey East action at the Whittemore Center.
UNH, which skated to a 2-2 tie at UMass on Friday, extended its unbeaten streak to six games (5-0-1) to improve to 10-6-4 overall and 7-4-3 in Hockey East. UMass is now 9-9-2, 4-5-2.
With the score tied 2-2, UMass was whistled for a penalty with 24 seconds remaining in regulation. The Wildcats called time out, but the Minutemen won the faceoff, cleared the puck the length of the ice and limited the ‘Cats to one shot – wide of the target -- in the waning seconds.
UNH’s power play opportunity carried into the extra session but the visitors kept the attack on the perimeter until Butler scored on a shot deep in the right circle. Kevin Kapstad (Boxboro, Mass.) gathered the puck in the defensive zone and made a pass to Greg Collins (Fairport, N.Y.) along the left boards. Collins carried the puck into offensive zone and made a cross-ice pass to Butler, who beat UM netminder Dan Meyers on the lower right side of the net. For Butler, the goal was his third in as many games and extended his scoring streak to seven games (4g, 6a), while Kapstad has a point in eight straight (1g, 9a).
UNH goaltender Brian Foster (Pembroke, N.H.) recorded double digits in saves all three periods of regulation (13-10-12) and finished with 35 saves. UMass Meyers also had double-digit saves all three frames (15-12-13) and had one stop in overtime for a total of 41.
New Hampshire entered the third period trailing 1-0 and pulled even 57 seconds into the frame with a 4-on-3 power-play goal. Jerry Pollastrone (Revere, Mass.) initiated the sequence by corralling the loose puck at mid-ice and advancing it to Blake Kessel (Verona, Wis.). He skated to the high slot and slid a pass to Mike Sislo (Superior, Wis.), whose shot from the left point sailed high inside the far post.
UMass regained the lead, 2-1, at 5:32 when Will Ortiz, who was providing a screen in front of Foster, redirected Matthew Irwin’s blast from the left point. Casey Wellman was also credited with an assist.
Thomas Fortney (Webster Grove, Mo.) leveled the score, 2-2, with a tally at 9:45. From the right circle Peter LeBlanc (Hamilton, Ontario) swept the puck to Jamie Fritsch (Odenton, Md.) at the high slot. Fritsch quickly moved the puck to Fortney, who scored on a one-timer from the left circle.
Following a scoreless first period, UMass netted the lone goal of the second stanza to take a 1-0 lead. Justin Braun moved the puck through the neutral zone along the right dashers to Wellman, who advanced the puck down low to James Marcou. From behind the goal line on the right side, Marcou threw the puck in front of the net and Chase Langeraap scored on a low shot.
Both teams generated a dangerous shorthanded scoring chance in the second period. Chris Davis, off a UNH turnover in front of the net, was foiled by Foster from point-blank range midway through the frame. In the closing minute, Sislo led a rush down the right side. He centered the puck to the slot and the charging James van Riemsdyk (Middletown, N.J.) redirected a shot on goal, but Meyers made the stop.
In the opening stanza, the Wildcats opened with a flurry of shots in the second minute of the game. Danny Dries (Lake Orion, Mich.) had his initial shot from the right doorstep turned aside by Meyers, then a UMass skater blocked aside his shot off the rebound. Dries regained possession and fired a shot wide. The puck then was centered down low and Sislo was denied by Meyers. New Hampshire also created a dangerous threat in the closing minute of the first period, but Meyers stopped Kapstad’s initial low, screened shot from the left point and van Riemsdyk off the rebound with a quick glove save.
New Hampshire returns to action Jan. 17 (7 p.m.) against intrastate rival Dartmouth College at the Verizon Wireless Arena in Manchester (N.H.). The Wildcats’ next home game is Jan. 24 (7 p.m.) against Boston University.