LEBLANC'S OVERTIME GAME-WINNER LIFTS #13 MEN'S HOCKEY PAST #17 VERMONT, 5-4
DURHAM, N.H. – Peter LeBlanc (Hamilton,
Ontario) scored at 1:25 of overtime to lift the 13th-ranked
University of New Hampshire men’s hockey team to Friday
night’s 5-4 victory against the 17th-ranked University of
Vermont in Hockey East action at the Whittemore Center.
UNH, which clinched a playoff berth win a win and can clinch home-ice in the quarterfinals with a tie or win on Saturday, improved to 15-10-4 overall, 14-5-3 in Hockey East and 8-0-2 in league games at the Whittemore Center this season. UVM is now 13-11-5, 7-10-5. UNH captures its third overtime win of the season, most since the 1999-2000 season.
LeBlanc, who finished with a goal and an assist, was one of five Wildcats who recorded two points. Bobby Butler (Marlboro, Mass.) also tallied a goal and an assist while Stevie Moses (Leominster, Mass.), Mike Sislo (Superior, Wis.) and Paul Thompson (Derry, N.H.) had two assists apiece.
UNH goaltender Brian Foster (Pembroke, N.H.) recorded 39 saves, including 11 in the scoreless third period and one in overtime. UVM counterpart Rob Madore was credited with 21 saves, one of which came in the extra session.
With the score tied 4-4 at the end of regulation, the Wildcats created a dangerous scoring chance in the opening minute when Thompson backhanded a shot at the right doorstep, but Madore’s lunging effort kept the game deadlocked.
UNH then generated a rush in which LeBlanc’s initial shot from the slot was blocked. The puck caromed back to the slot and a shot from Blake Kessel (Verona, Wis.) was also blocked in front by a defenseman. LeBlanc corralled the puck at the left doorstep and lifted a shot into the net to end the game. Moses, who carried the puck into the zone and dropped the puck to LeBlanc, was also credited with an assist.
Both teams netted a pair of first-period goals. UNH took a 1-0 lead just 26 seconds into the game when Butler intercepted a pass at the right point to keep the puck in the offensive zone and he found Paul Thompson (Derry, N.H.) on the left wing. Thompson’s centering pass deflected off Butler’s skate to Phil DeSimone (East Amherst, N.Y.) at the right doorstep and he fired a shot into the net.
UVM leveled the score, 1-1, with a power-play goal at 3:01. Kyle Medvec initiated the scoring sequence with a pass from the left point to Dan Lawson at the opposite point. Lawson moved the puck to Brayden Irwin in the high slot and his shot sailed inside the right post.
New Hampshire responded with a power-play goal at 4:37 to regain the lead, 2-1. Moses, positioned at the left doorstep, corralled a pass from Sislo and slipped the puck to the slot, where Matt Campanale (Chester Springs, Pa.) blasted a low shot into the cage.
The Catamounts pulled even once again at 6:46. From the right corner, Tobias Nilsson-Roos moved the puck to Brian Roloff at the right half-boards. Roloff quickly sent a pass across the slot to an unmarked Patrick Cullity and he shoveled the puck into the open left side.
Both teams also scored two goals in the second period to move the score to 4-4. UNH took its third lead of the game at 2:24 when Nick Krates (Palos Park, Ill.) wristed a shot from the left circle into the upper-left corner of the net. Sislo, with the pass from the high slot to Krates, and LeBlanc set up the tally.
UVM forced the third tie of the game, 3-3, at 9:02. Foster stopped Drew Mackenzie’s initial shot as well as Medvec’s attempt off the rebound, but Jonathan Higgins corralled that rebound in the slot and lifted a shot inside the right post.
New Hampshire went ahead yet again on Butler’s goal – a 4-on-4 tally -- at 12:05. Damon Kipp (Salmon Arm, British Columbia) carried the puck on the right wing and centered the puck to Thompson. Madore knocked down that shot but Butler controlled the rebound at the top of the crease before depositing the puck in the net.
The Catamounts drew even, 4-4, at 16:45. Irwin carried the puck down the slot and swung a pass to Sebastian Stalberg at the left doorstep. Stalberg then sent a pass across the slot and Colin Vock redirected the puck into the open right side of the net.
New Hampshire and Vermont conclude the two-game weekend series Feb. 20 (7 p.m.) at the Whittemore Center.