March 19, 2004
Hockey East Semifinals
Scratch 'n Sniff
Benched last week, Hamilton came up big for Maine

By Nate Ewell

Maine 1, Boston University 0
Team Goal Str
Time Assists
First Period
No Scoring

Second Period

No Scoring
Third Period
1-ME Mike Hamilton (5) EN
7:09 J. Jankus
BU: Sean Fields, 58:58, 31 saves, 1 GA
ME: Jim Howard, 60:00, 21 saves, 0 GA
Penalties: BU 6/12; ME 5/10
Power Plays: BU 0-4; ME 0-5
Attendance: 17,565

BOSTON – Tim Whitehead has high expectations for Mike Hamilton, going so far as to compare the freshman to former Black Bear Lucas Lawson, who led Hockey East in goals last year.

Despite that – or is it because of it? – Whitehead benched the rookie for last Saturday's first-round Hockey East Tournament game against Merrimack. Hamilton, who has sat 15 times this year, took the slight in stride, worked his way back in the lineup and scored the only goal of Friday evening's semifinal win over Boston University.

"You want to be playing every game, but at the same time I realize that there are 28 guys on the roster," said the left wing from Victoria, B.C. "When I get taken out of the lineup I definitely want to work as hard as I can and try to get back in the lineup and contribute any way I can."

Hamilton admits that Whitehead and the Black Bear coaches know when to light a fire under him. Friday marked the fifth straight time that he had sat at least one game, then returned and recorded a point.

His point came in a big situation, too. Friday night, with Jim Howard and Sean Fields manning the nets, there was a sense that it would take a superhuman effort to score.

Then came Hamilton, owner of four goals on the year. Jon Jankus, center on Maine's highly effective third line, took over the puck behind the BU net. Hamilton, streaking into the slot and hollering for the puck, one-timed it to Fields' far side before the Terrier goalie could react.

"What he does so well is he can skate, and he can shoot the puck as you saw tonight," Whitehead said. "He's a strong kid, he's got big legs. I don't think he realizes how strong he is yet."

Hamilton showed that strength in a key moment Friday night, and gave Whitehead a good reason to keep him in the lineup for Saturday's championship game. After all, without him, Maine might not even be there.

Massachusetts 5,
New Hampshire 2
Team Goal Str
Time Assists
First Period
1-NH Steve Saviano (27) EN
13:41 Unassisted

Second Period

2-NH Jacob Micflikier (11) EV
3:30 S. Vinz
1-MA Greg Mauldin (14) EV
10:21 T. Vitek
Third Period
2-MA Peter Trovato (4) EV
7:02 S. Regan, K. Jarman
3-MA Mike Warner (6) EV
14:32 S. Werner, K. Jarman
4-MA Thomas Pock (16) EV
17:04 J. Lang, T. Vitek
5-MA Mike Warner (7) EN
18:05 T. Pock
NH: Mike Ayers, 59:16, 28 saves, 4 GA
MA: Tim Warner, 60:00, 27 saves, 2 GA
Penalties: NH 5/10; MA 7/14
Power Plays: NH 0-6; MA 0-4
Attendance: 17,565


Somebody apparently forgot to tell UMass that they're supposed to be new to this whole "playoff poise" thing.

In the nightcap, the Minutemen bounced back from a 2-0 deficit and scored four times in the third period. It was the stuff of 1980s-era Oilers, not a team making just its second appearance at the Fleet.

"We knew we had control of this game going into the third period," senior Mike Warner said, despite trailing 2-1 at the time. "We had a lot left, and I didn't think they did."

Cahoon credits Warner, Nick Kuiper and Thomas Pöck, his three seniors, for instilling that confidence in the team. But the players are quick to credit the whole team as a group.

"I think it's everyone," said junior Greg Mauldin, who started the scoring for UMass with a deflection past Mike Ayers. "Usually it's the first two lines that lead a team. But here the third and fourth lines go out, work hard, and everybody else wants to go out there and have a good shift, too. Everyone feeds off each other."

Both the team's confidence and its energy could be seen when Peter Trovato scored the tying goal. It touched off a wild celebration, like the entire team had been waiting, knowing it would come.

"It was electric," Mauldin said. "We were buzzing so much, everyone knew that one of them was going to go."

INCH's Three Stars of the Night

3. Mike Hamilton, Maine
Showed a goal-scorer's touch with his one-timer that beat Fields.

2. Tim Vitek, Massachusetts
The junior center makes things happen, both offensively and defensively, for the Minutemen.

1. Steve Saviano, New Hampshire
The speedy, skilled Saviano was the best player on the ice at the Fleet, even in a losing cause.


• The 1-0 first semifinal was the lowest scoring semifinal game in tournament history (and don't look for that mark to be broken). There had been 1-0 tournament games before, however, as recently as last year's title game. It was the fifth 1-0 game Maine has played this year (2-3-0), and the Black Bears have also had a scoreless tie.

• The second game featured two video reviews of goals, both of which counted (one for each team). On the first, Steve Saviano's shot got hit Tim Warner's glove, but trickled over the line. The second came on Peter Trovato's tying goal for UMass. Officials checked for a hand pass, but Trovato had gloved the puck forward himself before collecting it and shooting it past Mike Ayers.

• The best of Tim Warner's 27 saves may have been a stick side stop on a Sean Collins partial breakaway in the third period that would have given the lead back to UNH. Warner had some advance scouting on Collins, but it turned out not to help.

"I know Sean just as well as I know [Warner's brother] Mike," Tim said. "We grew up playing together. I didn't think he was going to shoot there, I thought he was going to deke."

• Boston Bruins head coach and BU alumnus Mike Sullivan was in the crowd, attending the game with his family. Sullivan's club has a key Eastern Conference game Saturday afternoon against Tampa Bay at the Fleet, making for a big day of hockey in the Hub.

• New Hampshire and Massachusetts are both accustomed to Olympic ice sheets, but they looked at home on the NHL size. In fact, there appeared to be much more open ice in the second game than in the first, when both BU and Maine played a tight-checking, clog-the-neutral-zone style.

• How's this for a promotion? No NHL team had the rights to former Maine goaltender Matt Yeats two days ago, and he had spent much of the year looking for a place to play. Today, he's Olie Kolzig's backup on the Washington Capitals. Yeats was signed due to injuries to two Capitals goaltending prospects. A third had spent some time in Washington this year but remained with the Caps' AHL team, the Portland Pirates, to help their playoff hopes. Yeats had played seven games for the Pirates this season.

• An anonymous UMass players' voice, in the locker room after the game as Don Cahoon was looking for the notebook that never leaves his hands while he's behind the bench: "I think Tim Whitehead has it!"


Maine goaltender Jim Howard did a good job of keeping his cool, especially early. In the first period alone, he was run three times and slashed once.

New Hampshire's game plan against Massachusetts' Thomas Pöck worked to perfection – and the Hobey Baker finalist still scored a goal. One reason given for Pöck's success as a defenseman, as opposed to a forward, is the added time he has to see the ice. The Wildcats took away that time by skating at Pöck when he had the puck, rather than assuming a defensive posture. Pöck ended up scoring UMass' fourth goal off a clean faceoff win in the UNH zone.

In the first game, both Boston University and Maine seemed to struggle on defensive zone faceoffs. It could have cost Maine late, as they took several icing calls and Howard froze the puck at every opportunity, but they hung on.


Massachusetts and Maine provided the big story of last year's Hockey East Tournament, when the Minutemen went to Orono and upset the Black Bears, so perhaps it's fitting that they play for the title this year. Maine is already guaranteed a spot in the tournament as a No. 1 seed, but UMass would need a win to sneak in. Don Cahoon has done it before, at Princeton in 1998.

New Hampshire's ready to dance, and the Wildcats could be dangerous. They host the Northeast Regional at the Verizon Wireless Arena in Manchester.

Meanwhile, Boston University returns home with a better memory of the season than the Terriers could have had, thanks to the last few weeks. "We had a heck of a run," head coach Jack Parker said, "but it wasn't the type of year we're used to. We want to make sure we start next year the way we finished this one."

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