DURHAM, N.H. - Junior blueliner Eric Knodel (West Chester, Pa.) scored the game-tying goal with under four-minutes left in the third to help lift the fourth-ranked University of New Hampshire men's hockey team to Saturday afternoon's 4-4 overtime tie against the University of Maine at the Whittemore Center, wrapping up the regular season.
The Wildcats finish the 2012-13 regular season with a record of 18-9-7 overall and 13-8-6 in conference play while the Black Bears finalized their record at 10-18-8 and 6-13-8. New Hampshire can still finish as high as second seed and as low as the fifth seed and will await tonight's results for final placement in the Hockey East tournament.
Knodel's power play goal came on a bomb from the high point with assists from Kevin Goumas (Long Beach, N.Y.) and Trevor van Riemsdyk (Middletown, N.J.) at 16:22. The Wildcats carried a 3-2 edge heading into the period, but the Black Bears responded with goals at 5:58 and 7:14 of the third to take a 4-3 lead. Just under six minutes into the third period, Diamond recorded his second goal of the night to level the score at 3-3. Hutton recorded the assist on the play. Maine battled back to take a 4-3 lead at the 7:14 mark as Will Merchant tied the game with a blast from just outside the right faceoff circle. Steven Swavely dished the puck to Brice O'Connor, who in turn found Merchant.
Scott Pavelski (Plover, Wis.) was gave the Wildcats the first goal of the game at the 15:59 mark of the first stanza as he netted his fourth tally of the season. Maxim Gaudreault (Annapolis, Md.) received the puck from Justin Agosta (East Meadow, N.Y.) and played it to Pavelski in front of the net. Pavelski ripped it home past Black Bear goalie Martin Ouellette for the goal. New Hampshire netminder Casey DeSmith (Rochester, N.H.) was perfect in the period, saving all 11 shots that Maine sent at him. Through one period of play, the Wildcats held a 1-0 lead.
In the second period, Gaudreault tallied his second point of the game at the 14:06 mark to give UNH a 2-0 lead. van Riemsdyk took the puck up ice and played it on to Jay Camper (Rocky River, Ohio). Camper received the pass with ease and sent it to Gaudreault who in turn fired the puck on the net, collected his own rebound, and backhanded the puck past Martin Ouellette.
At the 15:28 mark of the frame, Black Bear Joey Diamond cut New Hampshire's lead in half to 2-1 with his first goal of the game. Goalie Ouellette sent a pass to Ryan Lomberg. Lomberg found Diamond along the boards who then carried it in and flipped the shot past DeSmith.
Grayson Downing (San Jose, Calif.) regained the two-goal lead for New Hampshire when he scored his 13th goal of the year with four minutes remaining in the second. Austin Block (Thousand Oaks, Calif.) ripped a shot into traffic in front of the net that Downing redirected with a deflection and into the net for the score.
Maine's Adam Shemansky cut the deficit to one goal again with 1:57 remaining in the stanza to alter the score to 3-2, New Hampshire. Ben Hutton played the puck to Klas Leidermark on the right side of the New Hampshire zone. Leidermark sent the puck into Shemansky who found an opening in the net, placing the shot past DeSmith. At the end of two periods, the score was 3-2 with the Wildcats leading.
A defensive battle ensued in the extra frame as New Hampshire was held to two shots while Maine was held to just one. Each shot was saved. After four stanzas of play, the score was finalized at 4-4.
Maine held a 36-35 shot advantage thanks to a 14-6 edge in the second period.
DeSmith earned the decision after making a game-high 32 saves on 36 shots that he faced. His record now stands at 17-7-7. Ouellette made 31 saves on 35 shots that the Wildcats aimed on net, altering his record to 9-10-8.
The Wildcats were 1-for-4 on the power play while Maine was held scoreless at 0-for-5. UNH will play in the Hockey East quarterfinals next weekend March 15-17 in a best-of-three series. The Wildcats await tonight's results to find out opponent and tournament location. Log on to UNHWildcats.com for the latest information.