DURHAM, N.H. - Bobby Butler (Marlboro, Mass.) scored a career-high four goals to lead the 15th-ranked University of New Hampshire men's hockey team to Friday night's 5-2 victory against Providence College in Hockey East action at the Whittemore Center.
UNH, unbeaten in the last 11 games (8-0-2) vs. the Friars, improved to 14-10-4 overall and extended its lead in the Hockey East standings to five points with a 13-5-3 league record. PC fell to 9-17-2, 4-15-2.
Butler, whose previous career high was two goals, struck early in the game to give the 'Cats a 1-0 lead and scored the only three goals of the third period to break a 2-2 tie and further extend UNH's advantage. The four points matched his career high.
Phil DeSimone (East Amherst, N.Y.), who extended his point-scoring streak to 10 games, tallied a personal best of three assists - all on goals by Butler - and Mike Sislo (Superior, Wis.) matched his career high of two assists.
UNH goaltender Brian Foster (Pembroke, N.H.) recorded 28 saves, including 12 in the first period. PC counterpart Alex Beaudry stopped 29 shots.
With the score tied 2-2 at the start of the third period, DeSimone and Butler combined to give the Wildcats their third lead of the game, 3-2, at 9:04. DeSimone intercepted a pass in front of Foster and sent a long outlet pass that Butler corralled at the attacking blue line. He skated down the slot and slid a shot between Beaudry's leg pads.
In the 12th minute, UNH's Peter LeBlanc (Hamilton, Ontario) carried the puck down the left wing and continued behind the net. Instead of opting for a wraparound shot, he peeled off towards the circle and sent the puck to the low slot, where the one-timer by Stevie Moses (Leominster, Mass.) was stopped by Beaudry.
The duo of DeSimone and Butler, with additional assistance from Sislo, increased UNH's lead to 4-2 at 17:21 when Butler skated down the right wing and one-timed DeSimone's pass into the open near side of the net.
PC went on the power play and pulled Beaudry in favor of an extra skater at 18:38. Moments later, Brett Kostalansky (Denver, Colo.) stopped Mark Fayne's shot from the high slot and slipped the puck ahead to Butler in the neutral zone. He skated along the right dasher and, as he approached the blue line, fired a shot into the empty net for a short-handed tally at 19:11 to secure the victory.
Both teams netted one goal in the first period. UNH took a 1-0 lead at 4:01 on Butlers' first goal of the game. DeSimone initiated the sequence with a pass from the right corner to Matt Campanale (Chester Springs, Pa.) at the left point. Campanale blasted a low shot that was redirected by Butler, who was positioned in front of the net, into the goal.
The Wildcats were awarded a 5-on-3 power-play advantage at 8:30. Thirty seconds later, Blake Kessel (Verona, Wis.) rifled a shot from the slot that beat Beaudry but ricocheted off the left post. UNH continued to pressure and Butler fired a one-timer from the left faceoff dot that was blocked aside by Beaudry.
New Hampshire went on another power play at 13:24 and, just as the man advantage ended, DeSimone's bid from deep on the right wing was stopped by Beaudry, who also denied Paul Thompson (Derry, N.H.) off the rebound at the front doorstep.
The Friars pulled even, 1-1, at 17:46. Rob Maloney led a 2-on-1 rush down the right wing and his centering pass was redirected high into the net by Andy Balysky in the low slot. Mark Fayne was also credited with an assist.
In the second period, both teams once again potted one goal to advance the score to 2-2. The Wildcats regained the lead, 2-1, at 13:53. Sislo carried the puck on the right wing and threw the puck along the boards. Moses gained possession behind the net, then doubled back towards the right corner and threw the puck in front of the net, where LeBlanc jammed the puck into the cage.
Providence responded with a goal 65 seconds later to once again pull even. Foster stopped John Cavanagh's initial shot at the left doorstep, but Aaron Jamnick corralled the puck behind the net and swung a pass to Matt Bergland at the goal line on the right wing. Bergland quickly moved the puck across the slot and Cavanagh, still at the left doorstep, redirected a shot into the open net.
New Hampshire, which improves to 7-0-2 against league foes at Whittemore Center this season, continues its three-game homestand Feb. 19 against the University of Vermont. The game, which will be broadcast live on NESN, begins at 7:30 p.m. (doors open at 6:30 p.m.). The teams face off again Feb. 20 (7 p.m.) at the Whittemore Center.