John Muse earns shutout with 31 saves for Eagles

John Muse made 31 saves for the Eagles

DURHAM, N.H. - John Muse stopped all 31 shots he faced, including 15 in the third period, to lift the 18th-ranked Boston College men's ice hockey team to Saturday night's 1-0 victory against ninth-ranked University of New Hampshire at the Whittemore Center. BC, which prevailed 5-3 Friday night, wins the best-of-three Hockey East quarterfinal series, 2-0, to advance to the semifinals.

UNH, the tourney's third seed, is now 19-12-5 while the sixth-seeded Eagles are 18-13-5.

BC took a 1-0 lead into the first intermission on Matt Price's goal at 6:12. In a 2-on-2 rush, Price carried the puck into the left circle, used his teammate as a screen as he maneuvered across the slot and backhanded a shot inside the right post. Kyle Kucharski and Nick Petrecki were credited with assists.

Moments earlier, Boston College generated a 3-on-2 rush in which Kucharski cut down the slot, redirected a shot that was blocked aside by UNH goaltender Brian Foster (Pembroke, N.H.; 23 saves) and then crashed into the net.

In the ninth minute of the opening frame, UNH generated a flurry on the power play that included shots by Peter LeBlanc (Hamilton, Ontario) from the slot and left point, both of which were turned aside by Muse.

In the 12th minute, Jerry Pollastrone (Revere, Mass.) snapped a wrist shot from the left point that Muse snared with his glove.

With 90 seconds remaining in the first period, BC's Brock Bradford led a rush down the left wing and fired a shot that caromed off the far post.

The teams skated to a scoreless second period that saw each team whistled for 20 minutes in penalties. In the opening seconds of the stanza, BC generated a rush in which Petrecki was denied from the left wing and then Benn Ferriero, after collecting the rebound in the slot, was foiled by Foster.

In the fourth minute with New Hampshire on the power play, Kevin Kapstad (Boxboro, Mass.) skated in from the right point and blasted a shot from the faceoff dot that Muse enveloped.

On the same Wildcats' skater advantage, there was a flurry in which Kapstad generated a blocked shot and another that was stopped by Muse, who then denied Danny Dries (Lake Orion, Mich.) off that rebound from a scrum encircling the crease.

UNH's next dangerous opportunity came on its next power play in the 10th minute when Paul Thompson (Derry, N.H.), from the left doorstep, centered a puck that Muse blocked aside. LeBlanc gathered the puck in the slot, but his shot caromed off a BC defender back to whence it came.

With three minutes left in the second stanza, BC's Kucharski attempted a wraparound at the right post but the puck trickled across the crease.

In the third period, BC threatened on its fourth power-play opportunity in the eighth minute but Barry Almeida's shot from the slot was blocked down by Foster, who then covered the puck at the left post with Brian Gibbons on the doorstep.

In the 13th minute, the Eagles generated an odd-man rush in which Gibbon's one-timer from the slot was stopped by Foster's left leg pad.

With 3:45 remaining in the game, the Wildcats won a faceoff in the offensive zone that set up a Phil DeSimone (East Amherst, N.Y.) shot from the left circle that sailed wide left of the cage and ricocheted out towards the right post, where Blake Kessell (Verona, Wis.) was stymied by Muse.

New Hampshire went on its fourth power play at 17:04, but Muse stopped all four shots he faced during that Eagles' penalty kill.

UNH pulled Foster in favor of an extra skater with 56 seconds to play and called time out. Muse once again denied Kapstad and then BC cleared the puck out of the zone with 35 seconds on the clock. The 'Cats immediately reentered the zone but were unable to record a shot before the visitors swept the puck out of the zone with 15 seconds remaining. Cam Atkinson crossed center ice and sent a shot that sailed wide right of the empty net. BC's forechecking kept the puck at that end of the ice the rest of the way to secure the victory.

This ends a streak of seven consecutive years that UNH advanced to the TD Banknorth Garden for the league semifinals. The last time the 'Cats did not win a quarterfinal series was 2001, and the last time New Hampshire was swept in a best-of-three league series was 1998.

UNH now awaits the announcement of the 2009 NCAA Men's Ice Hockey Championship field on March 22 at 11:30 a.m. on ESPN2. The Wildcats are the host of the Northeast Regional from March 28-29 at the Verizon Wireless Arena (Manchester, N.H.). Tickets for the event are on sale now at Ticketmaster.