DURHAM, N.H.– Sophomore John Henrion scored two goals for UNH in Saturday night 5-4 win over Maine, but surprisingly that’s not what people will remember tomorrow.
Or perhaps it’s not so surprising.
With less than a minute to go in the third period, the score tied 4-4, two of the biggest rivals in college hockey split two of the strangest plays in the game this year.
First, Maine forward Gustav Nyquist found himself on a breakaway with UNH goaltender Matt DiGirolamo racing him for the puck. Nyquist won the battle, and with an empty net glaring him in the face, the Swedish sensation lost an edge and hit it off the post.
Thirty seconds later, the UNH counterpart to Nyquist, Paul Thompson took the puck into his own end and, with fortune already on the Wildcats side, broke past the defense and found a way via Shawn Sirman’s shoulder to get the puck into the back of the net with 15 seconds left on the clock.
“Thompson’s such a great scorer and he can score any possible way,” Maine head coach Tim Whitehead said. “And to make that play from below the goal line on his backhand is just an incredible, incredible play. I’m looking forward to his graduation from the University of New Hampshire.”
Except for that one short, albeit important goal, Thompson admitted his line didn’t do much of anything tonight in regards to point production. Linemate Phil DeSimone accounted for an assist on one of John Henrion’s goals, putting him at 99 total career points, but other than that, it was the underclassmen that kept the team on top.
“I thought everyone else played awesome, but Phil, Mike and I personally didn’t have our best game,” Thompson said. “So it’s good to get the win, but I think you have to give credit to everyone else on our team. They played unbelievable. Lines two through four, and the defense were awesome. As was Di Girolamo.”
DiGirolamo ended the night with 28 saves on 32 shots, and teammate Henrion showed his support after the game for his netminder.
“Scary seeing that kind of thing–with Nyquist coming down on you,” Henrion said. “[DiGirolamo] knows better than I would and I’m sure he made the right play, and luckily it was no goal.”
Though Thompson did make most of the headlines, UNH coach Dick Umile made sure to also focus on some of the other good aspects of the game. One in particular, besides Henrion, was the second line for the Wildcats–Kevin Goumas, Mike Borisenok and Stevie Moses. That line contributed for two goals and four assists on the night.
“I thought the Moses line–Goumas and them had a tremendous night,” Umile said. “Their forechecking was great and the goal that Goumas scored was as good a forechecking as you can get. Puck possession down low and found a way to finish it with a goal, so I thought that line played extremely well.”
Sitting all alone in first place by two points, the Wildcats will be assured first place for now, even with the Beanpot starting on Monday. Boston College will face off against Boston University while Northeastern will take on Harvard.
“It’s great, we are going to enjoy it,” Umile said. “I can kick back Monday, watch a couple other teams go at it and know that we are still going to be in first place, at least for another week.”