Wildcats earn second consecutive regular season title

Matt Fornataro had a goal and two assists for UNH

DURHAM, N.H. - Matt Fornataro (Calgary, Alberta) recorded a goal and two assists and Danny Dries (Lake Orion, Mich.) scored twice to lead the third-ranked University of New Hampshire men's hockey team to a 5-1 Hockey East victory against seventh-ranked Boston College at the Whittemore Center. With the win, UNH won the Hockey East regular-season title for the second-consecutive year and seventh time in school history. The Wildcats, who netted four power-play goals for the first time since striking five times with the extra skater March 8, 2003 vs. UMass-Lowell, extended their unbeaten streak to nine games (8-0-1) to improve to 21-7-2 overall and 17-4-2 in the league. BC, which has lost five straight to UNH dating back to last season, is now 16-9-7, 10-7-6.

Kevin Regan (South Boston, Mass.), two-time reigning Defensive Player of the Week in Hockey East, made 26 saves and stopped 54 of 55 shots in the weekend series vs. the Eagles. BC goalie John Muse finished with 24 saves.

In the ninth minute of the opening stanza, both teams generated an excellent scoring opportunity. BC's Ben Smith wristed a shot from the inner-right circle that Regan stopped, but Joe Whitney corralled the rebound in the slot and fired a shot that Regan scurried to block aside as Whitney raised his arms in anticipation of celebrating the gameís first goal. At the other end of the ice, Jerry Pollastrone (Revere, Mass.) was left alone in the slot and his wrist shot towards the left post was turned away by Museís right leg pad.

Dries, who matched his career high of two goals, gave the Wildcats a 1-0 lead, which they carried into the first intermission, with a power-play goal at 17:19. From the left half-wall, Kevin Kapstad (Boxboro, Mass.) threw the puck into the corner and Fornataro's slight touch advanced it behind the net for Dries. Dries quickly moved the puck to the right doorstep, where Mike Radja (Yorkville, Ill.) was denied by Muse. Dries gathered the rebound in the right circle and lifted his shot into the upper-left corner of the net.

The Wildcats carried momentum into the second stanza and increased their lead to 3-0 with tallies 75 seconds apart by Phil DeSimone (East Amherst, N.Y.) at 3:28 and Dries at 4:43. DeSimone collected Peter LeBlancís (Hamilton, Ontario) pass from behind the net at the top of the crease and lifted a high shot into the net. Paul Thompson (Derry, N.H.) was also credited with an assist.

UNH went on the power play 49 seconds later and Dries scored with the extra skater advantage when his shot from the slot hit Muse's glove and carried into the net. Brad Flashains (Glendale, Ariz.), with the pass from the high slot, and Fornataro, who slid the puck from deep in the left circle to Dries, set up the goal.

Midway through the stanza with BC on the power play, Regan denied Dan Bertram at the left post and Smith off the rebound in front. The Wildcats generated a flurry of shots, including Flashains' shot from the slot that caromed off the left post, during their power play in the 14th minute.

The Eagles pulled within 3-1 at 15:26 on a goal by Andrew Orpik, who had left the penalty box just seven seconds earlier. Orpik swept into the offensive zone, intercepted a centering pass and charged alone down the slot. He deked Regan in the low slot and tucked a shot between the legs.

In the third period, UNH gained a 5-on-3 power play advantage at 10:13 and netted goals 18 seconds apart to take a 5-1 lead. James vanRiemsdyk (Middletown, N.J.) potted his 11th goal of the season at 11:04 when he lifted a close-range shot into the net. Kapstad initiated the sequence from the high slot with a pass to deep in the right circle, where Pollastrone in turn centered the puck for vanRiemsdyk. With the 'Cats still on the power play, Muse stopped initial shots by Craig Switzer (Peachland, British Columbia) from the high slot and Radja in the right circle, but Fornataro collected the second rebound in the left circle and fired a shot into the open near side of the net at 11:22.

UNH's penalty kill was a perfect 7-for-7 and limited the Eagles to eight power-play shots. The 'Cats generated 15 shots on their eight power-play chances.

New Hampshire, who are 11-0-1 in their last 12 against league foes, returns to action Feb. 29 (7 p.m.) at home against Hockey East foe Merrimack College.