An Up-and-Down Week for Men’s Hockey
By JD Biagioni
Who: Boston University
Where: Agganis Arena, Boston, MA
When: Saturday, December 2
Result: 4-1 BC victory
The Eagles traveled down Comm Ave to visit the Terriers in the second half of a weekend home-and-home on Saturday evening. BU entered the season ranked #2 nationally, but has since fallen out of the rankings after disappointing losses against the likes of Minnesota State and Maine. BC, on the other hand, welcomed the Terriers to Conte Forum Friday night while in the midst of an eight-game undefeated streak. Despite jumping out to a two-goal lead minutes into the game, the Eagles suffered a deflating 7-4 loss at home (a full recap of game 1 of the home-and-home by Kyle Maslan can be found here: https://www.wzbcsports.com/bc-strikes-early-bu-storms-back-win/). Now, BC had to bring its A-game to Agganis Arena just to salvage the split.
The goals didn’t come as early or as often in this contest, but BC was on the board first for the second straight night. BU came storming out of the gates, pumping a flurry of shots on Joe Woll, who allowed 6 plus and empty-netter Friday night, but Woll held strong in the crease and thwarted the Terrier attack. A little over halfway through the first, JD Dudek skated up ice and found Connor Moore. Moore attempted to hit the streaking Graham McPhee with the cross-ice feed, but the pass deflected off a BU defenseman and past Jake Oettinger.
Again, like the previous game, BC netted the second goal within minutes of the first one to jump out to a 2-0 lead. David Cotton turned defense into offense when he stole the puck from Chad Krys. He crashed the net and shot on Oettinger. The initial attempt was unsuccessful, but the puck caromed back to Cotton for then easy second-chance opportunity.
BU finally got on the board just before the midway point of the second period on a Shane Bowers tip-in off a Kasper Kothansalo slapper. When BU, pulled within 1 halfway through the game, Eagles fans were having flashbacks of Friday’s loss. Would history repeat itself?
The answer to that question was a resounding “No!” BC didn’t get rattled by the rejuvenated Terrier crowd and stretched the lead back to 2 a few minutes later. Ron Greco picked up the Eagles’ third goal of the game, his third in total on the weekend. Kevin Lohan led the BC breakout before shoveling the puck along to Casey Carreau. Carreau received the puck in stride and entered the BU zone. He found Greco open at the left circle. Greco was able to set himself and snipe one over Oettinger’s shoulder before the BU defense could react.
BC had defense on the brain in the third period. They were outshot 13-3 in the final frame, but one of those 3 shots found the back of the net. With under a minute to play, Julius Mattila won a defensive-zone face-off to David Cotton. Cotton cleared the puck. McPhee beat his man down the left side of the ice and casually pushed the puck into the net to seal the BC victory.
This wild weekend series ended in a split and definitively showed that both of these teams are good enough to be in the top 16 come March. Hopefully, fans will be treated to an Oettinger-Woll rubber match in February in the Beanpot finals if neither goalie gets selected to represent the USA in the Winter Olympics.
Number to know: 36 – number of saves by Woll, a season-high.
Who: Northeastern University
Where: Conte Forum
When: Saturday, December 9
Result: 5-2 Northeastern win
BC hockey looked to keep up the momentum in Conte after basketball’s upset of #1 Duke earlier in the afternoon. In this pivotal Hockey East matchup, BC’s final game before Christmas break, the Eagles were tasked with slowing down Northeastern’s high-powered offensive attack. Behind four power play goals, the Huskies downed the Eagles 5-2 to pull within two points of BC in the Hockey East standings.
Northeastern tripled-up the Eagles in first period shots and came out of the first with a 3-0 advantage. BC got the first power play opportunity of the night, two minutes after puck drop, but they couldn’t convert. Five minutes later, Northeastern went on the power play and wasted little time going up 1-0. Dylan Sikura fed Nolan Stevens in front of the crease. Stevens, instead of firing one on net, dumped the puck back to Jeremy Davies for a slap-shot that flew past Joe Woll.
The Eagles took another penalty, a David Cotton hooking call, at 12:56 of the first frame. This time, Sikura got the goal on a rebound. A Cockerill to Gaudette to Stevens cycle set up an opportunity on the doorstep. Woll stopped a Stevens backhand, but the puck bounced across the crease to Sikura’s stick for the easy finish.
Just after Northeastern scored on the Cotton penalty, Aapeli Räsänen received a five-minute major and game misconduct for hitting from behind. Adam Gaudette, one of the nation’s top goal scorers, put Northeastern up 3-0 less than 30 seconds into the five-minute major. Cockerill dropped the puck off to Gaudette at the left dot and he sniped one over Woll’s shoulder.
On the bright side, BC only allowed one goal on the major penalty, which expired just before the end of the first. Then, in the second, the Eagles outshot the Huskies 19-9, but the goal total in the period was an even 2-2.
In a reversal of fortunes, Northeastern scored an even-strength goal 3 minutes into the second period. Trevor Owens took a Biagio Lerario pass and wristed a shot past a screened Woll. This goal put the Huskies up 4-0 and chased Woll in favor of Ryan Edquist.
The fifth goal, four minutes into the goalie switch, saw Northeastern return to its power play ways. Sikura netted his second goal of the game, seconds after a Christopher Brown tripping minor. Edquist stopped a Gaudette one-timer but couldn’t corral the rebound. Sikura took advantage of the rebound and buried the puck inside the left post.
Thankfully, the Huskies were kept off the board the rest of the way. But BC only managed two goals, by Michael Kim and Christopher Brown, in the second and they came up empty in the third. BC actually outshot Northeastern behind a plethora of second period shots, but at the end of the day, the goal total is all that matters. Northeastern has one more game before the break, Saturday the 16th, when they travel to Merrimack. If they win, they will spend Christmas tied with the Eagles for first place in the Hockey East.
Number to know: 3.53 – Northeastern’s goals per game average coming into the meeting with BC, good for fourth in the nation.