When the calendar turns to March, you can never count out a team coached by Jerry York. The Eagles battled back from an early 2-0 deficit to earn a 4-3 win over New Hampshire tonight at the Whittemore Center. The win gives Boston College an outright Hockey East regular season title, the program's first since the 2004-05 season.
New Hampshire opened the scoring late in the first period on a fluky goal from Dalton Speelman at 18:05. The Wildcats quickly made it 2-0 on a power play goal from Mike Sislo not a minute into the second period.
Barry Almeida cut the lead in half at 11:05 of the second period, after he slammed a rebound past UNH goalie Matt Di Girolamo. The power play goal was Almeida's sixth goal of the season and third in BC's last five games. The score remained 2-1 until Cam Atkinson knotted the game at two. Atkinson easily deked past Di Girolamo on the breakaway with just 13 seconds left in the second period.
The Eagles took a 3-2 lead early in the third period on a Tommy Cross goal, a wrister from the slot. Exactly six minutes later, UNH's Phil DeSimone tied the game again at 3, flipping a loose puck past Muse.
BC's Pat Mullane broke the 3-3 tie at 15:07 of the third, taking a rebound and pushing it past Di Girolamo for the game-winner.
John Muse stopped 27 of 30 shots for his 23rd win of the season.
The Eagles will be the No. 1 seed in next week's Hockey East Tournament and will face No. 8 seeded UMass. The Minutemen needed OT to preserve a 4-4 tie against Maine to secure the eighth and final spot in the Hockey East quarterfinals. BC won the regular season series with UMass 3-0-0 this season.
The 2011 Hockey East Tournament field is now set. These four series will be played this week on Friday, Saturday and Sunday (if necessary):
No. 8 Massachusetts at No. 1 Boston College
No. 7 Vermont at No. 2 New Hampshire
No. 6 Northeastern at No. 3 Boston University
No. 5 Maine at No. 4 Merrimack
Should the Eagles get past UMass, they would face the lowest remaining seed in the Hockey East semifinals. That would be No. 4 Merrimack if the top seeds hold serve, or No. 5 Maine, No. 6 Northeastern or No. 7 Vermont. BC topped both Maine and Vermont this year 2-1-0, tied the regular season series with Northeastern 1-1-1 and lost the to Merrimack 1-2-0.