CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. -- Tuesday night was not the rowdiest of nights inside Conte Forum.
It took a bit for Boston College and New Hampshire to get its legs going.
The third-ranked Eagles persevered after surrendering two goals in the third period, extending their unbeaten streak to a national-best nine games as sophomore J.D. Dudek, an Auburn, N.H., native, scored with 2:27 left in regulation to secure a 5-3 win over UNH.
“Kind of a grinding game,” BC associate head coach Greg Brown said. “I thought we responded great in the last four minutes. All the guys had good energy on the bench and we dug deep. We were fortunate (Dudek) got a goal and we were able to come away with a win.
“It wasn’t pretty all the time, but there was a lot of perseverance there.”
It is still early in the Hockey East season, but the Eagles already have quite a grasp on the race with 11 points through six games. Each of BC’s last four wins have been in league play.
The Eagles scored a power-play goal just 7:36 into the first period as sophomore Christopher Brown tipped home senior Scott Savage’s point shot from just outside the crease. UNH junior Danny Tirone got a piece of the initial shot before the puck bounced home off Brown for his fourth goal of the season.
Sophomore Casey Fitzgerald doubled the BC lead at the 8:06 mark of the second period, sending a ripper home from just outside the top of the faceoff circle on the left side.
BC extended its lead to three goals 11:50 into the middle frame as Matthew Gaudreau caught the Wildcats in transition. Senior assistant captain Austin Cangelosi laid the puck across the sheet to Gaudreau who tapped his fourth goal of the season home from the doorstep.
Despite allowing two goals, Tirone kept the Wildcats in the game with 15 stops out of his 26.
“Danny battled hard,” UNH head coach Dick Umile said. “He stayed in there after falling behind three-zip, so it’s no fault of his.”
From there, the Wildcats staged a three-goal comeback. First, freshman Liam Blackburn scored his third goal of the season 15:24 into the second, tipping home Brendan van Riemsdyk’s shot from just inside the blue line.
UNH tied the game with two more goals to begin the third.
“We’ve (come back from deficits) several times this season already, so we know they have that ability and that character,” Umile said. “They’re a never-quit team. Against a really good Boston College team, I was really proud of the way they battled back.”
Junior Jason Salvaggio scored the first of two straight Wildcat goals on the power play at the 9:21 mark of the final period, snapping his fourth of the season past BC rookie Joe Woll from between the circles.
Matias Cleland leveled the score at 15:51. After receiving a pass from Blackburn in the slot, the senior captain fired one on net that beat Woll from the high slot.
Dudek netted his first game-winning goal as an Eagle less than two minutes later, at 17:33. After trailing the play, Dudek crashed the net, easily corralled a rebound Gaudreau’s shot left and stuck the puck home from the top of the crease.
“It helped that Matty and (Chris Calnan) did well on the forecheck and were able to get it,” said Dudek, whose five points this season already surpass his freshman year total. “I was lost in the mix being high in the zone, and they made a nice play to me out front. They made my job easy.”
Sophomore Colin White cinched the victory, scoring an empty-net goal off assists from Cangelosi and senior Ryan Fitzgerald with 1.3 seconds to play. Cangelosi’s helper was his third of the game, with one coming in each period.