DURHAM — The University of New Hampshire built itself a nice early lead.
Then the Wildcats relied on goalie Casey DeSmith to hold on late to come up with a 4-3 win over Boston University in front of 5,349 on Senior Night on Friday at the Whittemore Center.
"It's tough to get two points," said UNH coach Dick Umile. "We almost gave it away. Casey DeSmith got the two points, to be quite honest with you."
DeSmith, a junior from Rochester, made 37 saves in the game and had a series of crucial stops in the closing minutes.
Twice he stopped Danny O'Regan in close, first with a glove save with 3:27 left and then with a kick save with 23 seconds to go.
"He made some incredible saves when we tried to give it away," Umile said. "I couldn't believe he made that glove save."
Matt O'Connor stopped 23 shots for BU.
The Terriers battled back from an early 3-0 deficit with the help of a pair of five-on-three power play goals.
"We took some undisciplined penalties," Umile said. "Giving up two goals three on five is not a good formula to win games."
The Wildcats improved to17-15-1 overall and 9-8-0 in Hockey East.
UNH kept pace with Maine in the league standings. The Black Bears beat Merrimack, 2-1. UNH and Maine are tied for third place, jumping a point ahead of Northeastern which did not play on Friday.
The Terriers fell to 8-17-4 and 3-9-3.
UNH and BU play a rematch on Saturday night at Agganis Arena where a ceremony will be held to honor former Terrier coach Jack Parker.
The Wildcats scored an assortment of goals — the first short-handed, the next on the power play and the third at even strength — to open a 3-0 lead in the first period.
Sophomore Dan Correale followed up senior Jeff Silengo's breakaway bid and knocked in the rebound to open the scoring with the shorthanded goal 2:52 into the game.
"You can't start the game giving up a short-handed goal," said BU coach David Quinn.
Senior defenseman Eric Knodel doubled the lead with a power play goal at 10:13 of the period with senior Kevin Goumas and sophomore defenseman Brett Pesce assisting.
Junior Matt Willows put in the rebound of a shot by senior Justin Agosta for 3-0 with 2:40 left in the period
BU got one goal back on a five-on-three power play goal by Evan Rodrigues with 7.7 seconds left in the period. Robbie Baillargeon and Danny O'Regan assisted. Rodrigues returned the favor and set up O'Regan to cut the lead to 3-2 at 8:53 of the second period.
Willows answered that one three minutes later with his second of the night. He steamed up the right side on a two-on-one with Dalton Speelman and kept the puck and shot and scored his second of the night. Agosta collected his third assist of the night on the play.
Baillargeon scored BU's second five-on-three power play goal of the night — Goumas and Knodel took penalties within 16 seconds of each other — at 9:15 of the third period to make it 4-3 and tense.