Senior forward Paul Thompson scored his sixth game-winning goal of the season
DURHAM, N.H. - Paul Thompson (Derry, N.H.) scored with 16 seconds remaining in regulation to lift the sixth-ranked University of New Hampshire men's hockey team to Saturday night's 5-4 Hockey East victory against 15th-ranked University of Maine at the Whittemore Center.
UNH extended its winning streak to four games to improve to 17-5-4 overall and claim sole possession of first place in the Hockey East standings at 15-2-2. Maine is now winless in five games (0-3-2), 11-9-6 overall and 8-7-4 in the league.
John Henrion (Holden, Mass.) was one of four Wildcats with a multiple-point game as he matched his career highs in both goals (two) and points (two). Kevin Goumas (Lake Worth, Fla.) had a goal and an assist to tie his best of two points. Stevie Moses (Leominster, Mass.) and Mike Beck (Long Beach, Calif.) both finished with two assists. It was Beck's first multiple-point game while Moses equaled his personal bests in both assists and points.
UNH goalie Matt Di Girolamo (Ambler, Pa.) made 13 of his 28 saves in the first period. Maine counterpart Shawn Sirman was credited with 22 saves. The UM offense was led by Kyle Beattie (two goals), Spencer Abbott (two assists) and Tanner House (two assists).
With the score tied 4-4 in the closing seconds, Thompson entered the offensive zone in the high slot, continued towards the left circle and then charged towards the left post, where he tucked a shot inside the near post. Matt Campanale (Chester Springs, Pa.), who gained possession at center ice and sent a pass ahead to Thompson, set up the game-winning goal.
Both teams scored two goals in the first period. Thompson had a breakaway 45 seconds into the game and snapped a wrister past Sirman that caromed off the inside of the right post across the crease. UNH struck first at 5:26 when Henrion fired a shot from the top of the right circle into the net. Austin Block (Thousand Oaks, Calif.), who won the faceoff to Sirman's left, and Dalton Speelman (San Jose, Calif.), who swept in from the slot and tapped the puck back to Henrion, set up the tally.
The Black Bears netted goals at 13:07 and 16:31 to transform a one-goal deficit into a one goal lead, 2-1. Nyquist scored his fourth goal of the weekend to tie the score off a rebound at the right post. Tanner House, whose initial shot from the right circle was stopped by Di Girolamo, and Brian Flynn were credited with assists. Spencer Abbott initiated the scoring sequence on Maine's second goal when he advanced the puck from the left point to House deep on the left side. House was denied by Di Girolamo, but Kyle Beattie shoveled the rebound into the cage.
UNH tied the score, 2-2, with 40 seconds remaining in the opening frame. From behind the net, Phil DeSimone (East Amherst, N.Y.) swept the puck to the right point, where Beck's slap shot was blocked by a Maine skater. Henrion corralled the puck in the slot and slid a low shot into the net.
In the eighth minute of the second period, Maine generated a 2-on-1 shorthanded rush in which House carried the puck down the slot and was denied twice by Di Girolamo. Nyquist then sent a shot wide of the open net from the left circle.
The Wildcats went back in front, 3-2, at 10:34 of the middle stanza. Beck kept the puck in the offensive zone at the left point and fed a pass to Moses in the slot. Sirman blocked down Moses' shot but Goumas shoveled the rebound into the cage.
Maine had another odd-man rush with 3:30 remaining in the second in which House entered the offensive zone on the left wing and sent a pass across the slot to Mike Cornell, whose shot was turned aside by Di Girolamo's blocker.
The Black Bears entered the third period trailing 3-2 but leveled the score at 8:13 when Robby Dee drew the faceoff back to Abbott at the left point. Abbott's shot was blocked but Beattie gathered the puck in the left circle and fired a shot into the net.
New Hampshire responded with a goal 91 seconds later (at 9:44) to regain the lead, 4-3. From the left boards, Moses dropped the puck back to Goumas, whose shot from the point was stopped by Sirman but the rebound went to Mike Borisenok (Watervliet, N.Y.) and he lifted a shot past the UM goalie.
Maine once again pulled even, 4-4, on Will O'Neill's one-timer from the slot at 13:24. Jeff Dimmen, with the centering pass from the left circle, and Brian Flynn were credited with assists. One minute later, the Black Bears were denied on an opportunity to take their second lead of the game when the rebound off Abbott's shot from the right circle was cleared out of the crease by Beck with a Maine player lurking nearby and an open net in front of him.
With 45 seconds remaining, Di Girolamo charged from the crease towards a loose puck in the high slot with Nyquist approaching from the neutral zone. Nyquist directed the puck to the side of the sprawled out UNH netminder, lost his footing and backhanded a shot towards the open net that clanged off the near post.
New Hampshire returns to action Feb. 11 at home against Merrimack College. Game time at the Whittemore Center is 7 p.m.