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New Hampshire rallies, beats North Dakota 6-5 in OT

by John Kreiser
Talk about playing "Beat the Clock."

Thomas Fortney forced overtime by scoring with :00.1 remaining in regulation and Josh LaBlanc's goal 45 seconds into OT capped New Hampshire's comeback as the third-seeded Wildcats rallied to beat second-seeded North Dakota 6-5 in the NCAA Hockey Northeast Regional at Manchester, N.H.

The Wildcats will meet Hockey East rival Boston University in Sunday's championship game, with the winner earning a berth in the Frozen Four on April 9 in Washington. The top-seeded Terriers avoided the upset epidemic that claimed two No. 1 seeds on Friday by routing Ohio State 8-3 in the second game.
LaBlanc’s second goal of the game completed New Hampshire's rally from two goals down midway through the third period and ended North Dakota's bid for a fifth consecutive regional championship and Frozen Four appearance. UND finished the season 24-15-4.

New Hampshire (20-12-5) trailed 5-3 after North Dakota forward Chris VandeVelde scored his second goal of the game at 9:08 of the third period. But Greg Collins' redirection of Damon Kipp's shot with 9:00 remaining cut the margin to one and set up a wild finish.

With 5.7 seconds remaining, the Wildcats forced a faceoff in North Dakota's zone. Thomas Fortney, who won the draw, went to the net and poked in the carom of a shot off the end boards an instant before the final buzzer.

"Not a chance," Fortney said when asked if he could duplicate the goal. "It actually worked out the way we drew it up. I was put up to take it off my backhand back to Kapstad, over to Sislo, who ended up shooting it wide. Then Jerry got it back from behind the net and I got it in."

In the overtime, Jerry Pollastrone led a 2-on-1 and slid a perfect pass in the high slot to LaBlanc, who blasted a one-timer past the outstretched glove hand of goalie Brad Eidsness.

“I just stepped off the bench,” said LeBlanc. "Jerry took it up to the blue line and I just tried to get up there and he gave me a great pass."

In the overtime, Jerry Pollastrone led a 2-on-1 and slid a perfect pass in the high slot to LeBlanc, who blasted a one-timer past the outstretched glove hand of goalie Brad Eidsness.
VandeVelde, a junior forward, had broken a 3-3 tie with 2:54 remaining in the second period when he converted a goalmouth feed from Matt Frattin. His second goal came when he took Frattin's pass in stride at the UNH blue line, raced past Kipp and went forehand-to-backhand for his 18th goal of the season.
UNH opened the scoring with a power-play goal 2:34 into the game when Mike Sislo tapped home James van Riemsdyk's feed from across the crease. North Dakota tied it at 4:34 when Jason Gregiore won a faceoff, spun away with the puck and moved to the slot before scoring on a wrist shot.
Brad Malone gave North Dakota its first lead at 13:55 when he backhanded the puck through the legs of a Wildcat defender, eluded a check to regain the puck in front of the crease and beat goaltender Brian Foster between the legs for his fifth goal of the year.
New Hampshire regained the lead with goals by Jerry Pollastrone and LeBlanc three minutes apart in the second period, but Ryan Duncan banged in a rebound at 9:47 for his 20th goal of the season to tie the game at 3-3.

"The University of New Hampshire showed a ton of character," North Dakota coach Dave Hakstol said. "The way they played today, they got a good bounce to the puck, and they had an awful lot of good play on their team today.

"From our standpoint, I am extremely proud of this hockey team. We’ve been a good team throughout the year and have an absolute first-class group of guys in our locker room. It’s painful to go out in this fashion."

In the second game, the Terriers, the top seed in the 16-team field with a 32-6-4 record, made short work of the 15th-seeded Buckeyes, leading 3-0 after one period and 6-0 before Ohio State (23-15-4) managed to score. Forwards Jason Lawrence and Zach Cohen each scored twice, while defenseman Matt Gilroy had four assists. In all, 11 Terriers had at least one point.

"The game was over pretty quickly but Ohio State kept working," BU coach Jack Parker said. "In general I thought we played a pretty good game. The puck just jumped in for us tonight. Credit to [OSU], they kept working. Overall you win a tournament game 8-3 you have to be very happy."

Hunter Bishop, Zach Pelletier and Matt Bartkowski scored for Ohio State, the 15th seed in the 16-team field.

"We didn't have the start that we wanted to," Bishop said. "When you get down 5-0, that's a pretty big hole to climb out of. I think our team really fought back and never gave up until the end. I'm definitely proud of us for that. It's definitely a learning experience."

The championship game will be a battle of teams that know each other well from conference play.

"Henry Ford once said experience is one of the greatest things in life. We have that experience," Parker said. "It’s going to be a hard-fought game. We have a lot of respect for them and they have a lot of respect for us. It’s going to be a very emotional game. The puck jumped into the net for us tonight, we’ll have to do that tomorrow night too."

Material from school Web sites was used in this report
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