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Men's hockey: Wildcats fall short against BU, 3-2
University of New Hampshire's John Henrion goes up and over Boston University's Evan Rodrigues along the boards during the second period of their Hockey East match up at the Whittemore Center in Durham Thursday evening. (Mark Bolton/Union Leader)
DURHAM - This time they didn't get away with it.
Playing their first game in nearly six years as the No. 1-ranked team in the country, the University of New Hampshire Wildcats fell into an early hole, never quite recovered and dropped a 3-2 decision to No. 7 Boston University in front of a sellout crowd of 6,501 at the Whittemore Center on Thursday night.
BU grabbed a 3-0 lead just before the game hit the halfway mark and UNH started to work its way back.
"We came up short," said UNH coach Dick Umile. "Obviously, spotting BU three goals is not a good formula. But I thought the guys battled back in the second and third periods."
Two weeks ago, Denver, then the No. 2 team in the country, jumped on UNH for a 3-0 first-period lead, but the Wildcats roared back for a 6-4 win.
Freshman goalie Matt O'Connor (31 saves) and the Terriers were having none of that on Thursday.
"That was two real solid goaltenders putting on a pretty good show," said BU coach Jack Parker.
Casey DeSmith, a sophomore out of Rochester, had 24 saves for the Wildcats.
UNH dropped to 11-2-2 overall and 8-2-1 in Hockey East and had its win streak snapped at three and its unbeaten streak ended at eight.
BU improved to 9-5-0 overall and 7-4-0 in Hockey East and its last two wins have been over the No.1 team in the country.
The Terriers beat No. 1 Boston College at home on Friday, which opened the door for UNH to take over the top spot.
The Wildcats play the United States National Team Development Program in an exhibition game on Sunday at 4 at the Whittemore Center.
Then they're off for three weeks until Dec. 30 when they take on Dartmouth in the first round of the Ledyard National Bank Classic in Hanover.
After falling behind BU 3-0, UNH finally got one back.
Junior Kevin Goumas scored it on a power play one-timer from a tough angle to O'Connor's left. Nick Sorkin crashed the net to keep the play alive and sent the puck to Goumas. John Henrion also assisted. It was the eighth goal of the season for Goumas.
Henrion made it a one-goal game with 8:06 left in the third period when he collected the rebound of a Justin Agosta shot near the top of the left circle and fired it past O'Connor.
The Wildcats threatened late and drew a penalty with 2:07 left in the game. Umile pulled DeSmith with about 1:25 to play, giving UNH a six-on-four advantage.
Goumas got a good look with about 13 seconds left, but O'Connor gloved his bid.
"I think he saw it pretty good," Goumas said. "Maybe if I got it up a little higher. But it's pretty late and we just wanted to get the puck on net."
BU's Wade Megan scored the only goal of the first period. The Terriers poked at the puck in a scrum in front of DeSmith and the UNH net and Megan knocked it in 4:39 into the game. Matt Grzelcyk assisted and Cason Hohmann assisted.
"They were definitely a little more hungry than we were in the first period," Henrion said. "That's not the way we've been paying. We've got to get back to work on that."
Sahir Gill charged down the middle and took a pass from Garrett Noonan and beat DeSmith for a 2-0 lead at 4:01 of the second period.
The Terrriers got another goal four minutes later when the puck bounced off the back glass and came back out in front and Sam Kurker shot it through traffic and under DeSmith.
Soon, UNH started on its way back.
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Goumas has scored a least a point in each of his last 10 games. He has seven goals and 12 assists in that stretch. He leads Hockey East in scoring at 8-16-24 ... UNH killed off all four BU power plays and now has killed off 34 straight. . . The Wildcats had one goal in nine power-play chances.