The last time Bobby Butler skated at the TD BankNorth Garden, he powered Marlborough High to the 2004-05 Division 3 state hockey title.
With his goal 90 seconds into the second overtime last night, the University of New Hampshire freshman winger lifted the Wildcats to a thrilling 3-2 win over Massachusetts in the Hockey East semifinals.
Third-ranked New Hampshire (26-9-2) will play Boston College, a 6-2 victor over Boston University, in tonight's Hockey East championship game at 7.
With the game tied at two just 90 seconds into double overtime UMass was unable to clear the puck from its own zone. Butler collected the rubber in the slot, wheeled and flicked a fluttering puck in on Jon Quick that went over his left shoulder and in the net for the game-winner.
“When it popped out there, I really couldn’t get everything on the shot,” said the 6-foot, 180-pound Butler, who netted his 8th goal of the season and also assisted on the first UNH goal. “It kind of popped up my stick and I just chipped it in.”
Fourth-seeded UMass drops to 20-12-5 (15-9-3 Hockey East) with the loss and will await a possible at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament when the field of 16 is announced on Sunday at 2:30pm on ESPNU. The defeat ended a six-game winning streak for the Minutemen.
Midway through the first overtime, UNH goalie Kevin Regan turned away a breakaway chance by freshman Will Ortiz of Framingham.
Read Nancy Marrapese-Burrill's game account in Saturday's Globe.
-- Craig Larson
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