March 15, 2003
UNH finally solves Fields, claims Hockey East title

New Hampshire 1,
Boston University 0 OT

FleetCenter | Boston, Mass.

Team Goal Str
Time Assists


1-NH Tyson Teplitsky (2) EV
11:43 Unassisted
BU: Sean Fields, 71:43, 40 saves, 1 GA
NH: Mike Ayers, 71:43, 24 saves, 0 GA
Penalties: BU 3/6; NH 4/8
Power Plays: BU 0-3; NH 0-2
Attendance: 16,763
All-Tournament Team

G: Sean Fields, BU (MVP)
D: Garrett Stafford, UNH
D: Thomas Pöck, UMass
F: Justin Maiser, BU
F: Steve Saviano, UNH
F: Stephen Werner, UMass

Hockey East semifinal coverage

By Juan Martinez

– In the end, the only player who could get the puck by Boston University’s Sean Fields was his teammate Ryan Whitney.

BU’s sophomore defenseman, standing in Fields’ crease, accidentally tipped in Tyson Teplitsky’s backhander at 11:43 of overtime to give the game and the Hockey East Tournament championship to New Hampshire. The win is the Wildcats' second consecutive Hockey East Tournament title to go along with this year’s shared regular season crown (with Boston College).

“I felt bad for the guys,” said BU coach Jack Parker, “because we lost, not because we lacked heart or effort.”

After Friday night's double-overtime affair, the Terriers were noticeably tired and seemed to be a step behind UNH from the midway point of the first period. As a result, Fields was left alone to thwart the Wildcats, while BU could barely manage a consistent offensive attack for most of the game.

“I liked the first period,” said Parker. “We had legs and some jump. We slipped a bit in the second period. It looked like we had two gears of slow tonight. We just couldn’t generate much because of the lack of legs and it turned the game into the ‘Sean Fields Show.’”

Picking up where he left off in the final 45 minutes of the semifinals, Fields, voted to the All-Tournament team and named Tournament Most Valuable Player, was simply outstanding, making 40 saves and 86 combined in the two games this weekend.

“I’d rather be holding the Hockey East championship than the MVP,” said a dejected Fields.

Even so, the recognition was worthy praise for the netminder who was no better than an Honorable Mention selection in the league’s All-Hockey East voting.

On this night, however, Fields was the best in the business. He was especially spectacular in the second period, turning aside quality scoring chances by UNH’s Sean Collins – a shorthanded breakaway – and Steve Saviano on a point-blank slapshot from the bottom of the faceoff circle.

In the final minute of the third period, Fields was even better as the Wildcats tested the netminder with four tremendous opportunities.

At 19:03, Fields blocked Garrett Stafford’s point shot and stoned Colin Hemingway on the rebound from the right circle. On the ensuing faceoff, Fields stopped a quick one-timer and repeated the performance on the next draw. Then, with 1.5 seconds left in the game, Fields got the edge of his stick and skate on a turnaround wrister from Tim Horst.

Tournament's Three Stars
3. Stephen Werner, UMass
The rookie registered three points (2-1-3) in defeat, but led the Minutemen all season and into the semifinals. He’s an example of the classy and mature youngsters that should put UMass in the top half of HEA standings next season and for years to come.
2. Steve Saviano, UNH
Held scoreless in the finals (like all his teammates besides Tyson Teplitsky). Notched a goal and an assist in the win over UMass. Even more impressive was the way he stood out over his higher-profile teammates Lanny Gare and Colin Hemingway in the two games, notching one more point that the duo combined. It’s clear the torch was passed over the last two days. This will be Saviano’s team next season.
1. Sean Fields, BU
Arguably put on the best tournament goaltending display since Chris Terreri was between the pipes for Providence in the 1980s. He carried BU to a double-overtime win in the semifinals and strapped 20 skaters to his back in the finals only to fall short on the fluke game-winner. Capped off a successful year at the Fleet Center with the Tournament MVP and the 2003 Beanpot MVP.

As if that weren’t enough, the highlight reel of stops continued with a tremendous right pad save on Saviano, who, sitting in the slot untouched, redirected a centering pass that seemed destined to the back of the net. Just one minute later, Fields denied Patrick Foley with a neat stick save off the winger’s quick wrister from the right circle.

Then, 4:03 after the Foley save, Fields was unable to anticipate or get in front of Whitney’s deflection.

“[Teplitsky] had the puck on the wing,” explained Fields, “and he just backhanded it toward the net. It took an unlucky bounce of Whitney and went in.

“When it’s the playoffs and you’re in overtime, the goals just seem the be scored that way.”

Plusses and Minuses

To a tremendous two days of hockey that included some of the best individual performances in years. With the rise of the UMass program, the league continues to improve and gets deeper in talent with each passing season. Hockey East staged some of the best hockey seen in the Fleet Center this season, especially in 2003.

To playoff hockey. There’s nothing better than games that hang on the outcome of each and every faceoff, power play and corner scrum. Best of all, it’s just beginning, with the rest of the conferences playing their championship weekends six days from now and the NCAA Tournament soon after that.

Fields deserved a better fate than to lose the game on a deflection off his own teammate. These things are part of the game, true, but we just wish the hockey Gods could have given us a cleaner ending. Where are the Hollywood producers when you need them?


The 71:43 of 0-0 hockey marked the longest scoreless play in championship game history. It was also the first shutout in finals history … The victory was UNH’s first over BU in all-time Hockey East Tournament play (1-3-1) … This was the first championship game pitting No. 1 and 5 seeds. The No. 5 seed had never advanced to the finals … UNH goaltender Mike Ayers started his 24th consecutive game and recorded his UNH-record sixth shutout this season … UMass’ two goals in 10 seconds in the semifinals tied the record for the fastest pair of tallies by one team in a tournament game … Justin Maiser’s hat trick for BU against BC was the fifth in semifinal history. No player has ever scored four in a semifinal or championship game … BU captain Freddy Meyer, who led all Terriers with seven points in 11 career games against UNH, missed both games with a separated left shoulder … The two-day attendance of 34,328 was a Hockey East Tournament record.


New Hampshire gets Hockey East's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, making the Wildcats the first team to officially earn a ticket to the dance. They aren't assured of a No. 1 seed in the East or Northeast – the old rule that rewarded teams for winning both their regular season and tournament titles no longer applies – but they have certainly made a good case for one.

Boston University, meanwhile, will be in the tournament as well, and as hosts, the Terriers are assured of playing in the Northeast Regional in Worcester. If UNH got the No. 1 seed in the Northeast and BU got placed at No. 2, we might see this matchup again in a couple of weeks – with a trip to the Frozen Four on the line.

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