AMHERST, Mass. - Mike Radja's game-winning goal with just under four minutes to play capped a two-goal third period for No. 8 New Hampshire as the Wildcats rallied back to defeat the No. 5 UMass hockey team 3-2 on Friday night at the Mullins Center. The Minutemen jumped out to a 2-0 lead after 14 minutes of play in the first period but the Wildcats scored three unanswered for the win. The UMass loss is the first at home and snaps a 13-game home win streak dating back to last season. The two teams will meet tomorrow night in Durham, N.H., at 7 p.m.
The game was a tight, physical match-up between two of the top teams in Hockey East this season. The Wildcats held a narrow 35-to-33 advantage in shots, but served 22 penalty minutes for the game compared to 12 for UMass.
Neither team was able to capitalize on the man advantage - including a 5-on-3 to start the third period for UMass - as each team finished 0-for-4 on the power play.
UMass jumped on the board first when redshirt senior defenseman Patrick Dineen scored his first career goal in his first start of the season just 2:54 into the game.
Mike Lecomte scored the second goal 11 minutes later to give the Minutemen a strong 2-0 lead late in the first period. It was his sixth goal of the season which ties him with Cory Quirk and Will Ortiz for the team lead.
The Wildcats were able to cut into that lead with just over four minutes to go in the first when James vanRiemsdyk scored his seventh goal of the season after a feed from Bobby Butler.
Neither team scored in the second period which ended with a string of penalties levied against the Wildcats as time expired. Mike Radja was given a minor for hooking as was Matt Fornataro. Fornataro was then given a 10-minute misconduct and New Hampshire was also given a bench minor forcing the Wildcats to start the third period in a 5-on-3 situation with four players in the penalty box.
The Minutemen were unable to score on the ensuing 5-on-3 and 5-on-4 power plays.
With just under eight minutes to play, Jerry Pollastrone took a feed from Butler and vanRiemsdyk to net the equalizer.
Radja put home the game-winner at the 16:05 mark of the third as the Wildcats handed UMass its first home loss of the season.
Dan Meyers got the start in net for UMass making a career-high 32 saves in the loss. Kevin Regan picked up the win for the Wildcats with 31 saves - 13 in the third period.