CHESTNUT HILL—Going into a weekend home-and-home series with No. 1 Boston College, the No. 9 Boston University men’s hockey team led the league in a surprising category: fewest penalty minutes per game, averaging 10.5.
A team traditionally known for spending time in the penalty box, the Terriers (8–5, 6–4 Hockey East) returned to their ways in a weekend split with the Eagles (11–2, 10–2 Hockey East). BU took 12 penalties — 11 of them minors — for 32 minutes in a 4–2 win Friday at Agganis Arena and followed that up with eight more two-minute minors in Saturday’s 5–2 loss at Conte Forum.
But what hurt the Terriers the most, according to BU coach Jack Parker, was the team’s inability to kill them off. The Eagles struck four times on the man-advantage Saturday night to blow the game open by the end of the second period.
“Rule number one is don’t beat yourself in any game we play,” Parker said. “And we failed badly at rule number one [Saturday]. This is a bad combination — we took a lot of penalties, and I thought a lot of them were stupid penalties, and we did a lousy job killing penalties … That was the difference in the game.”
Among the so-called “stupid” infractions were penalties that came in the heat of the moment, when the Terriers let their emotions get the best of them against their archrival.
Sophomore defenseman Alexx Privitera’s holding call in the second period, which came 18 seconds after junior defenseman Garrett Noonan’s tripping penalty, is almost certainly among them.
Those penalties gave BC a 5-on-3 chance. It took the Eagles only 40 seconds before defenseman Mike Matheson found the back of the net for his second career goal and a 3–1 BC lead.
Parker said Saturday’s unnecessary penalties were something of a carryover from the end of Friday’s game, which saw emotions flare during much of the 60 minutes.
BU committed four penalties in the final two minutes of Friday’s game, and three of those came from Privitera — a double minor, hitting from behind and unsportsmanlike conduct, followed by a 10-minute misconduct he got while standing in the box.
“I had a bunch of guys that took some stupid penalties,” Parker said. “We’re going to have to deal with that … This is the first time in a while”
Parker did acknowledge, however, that they were not all “stupid” Saturday. Some of the misdemeanors just never happened, he said.
The bench boss would not comment on a second-period diving call on senior defenseman Sean Escobedo — BU’s fourth and Escobedo’s second in November— but he had plenty to say about another game-changer.
Officials charged sophomore forward Yasin Cissé with interference at the 20:00 mark in the first, paving the way for a successful BC power play to open the second. Junior Bill Arnold, the 2011–12 season’s Beanpot hero and villain, scored with one second left on the penalty for a 2–1 BC lead. The Eagles never relinquished that lead.
“He didn’t do anything,” Parker said of Cissé’s actions. “[BC’s] guy was two-to-three feet inside the circle before the puck was dropped. That’s our fault. When they’re going to cheat, we should cheat with them. We didn’t. The linesman dropped the puck — he never should’ve dropped the puck. Then they took a dive and we got a penalty.”
“But it paled in comparison to some of the stupid things we did. We didn’t lose this game because the referees had a bad night. We lost this game because we had a bad night. And BC had a good night,” Parker added.
“Good” might be an understatement. After going a combined 1-for-13 on the man-advantage in two games against BU in November, an uncommon run for an Eagle team with a league-best 26.8 success rate entering the weekend, BC exploded for four power-play tallies in the regular-season rubber match.
As far as Parker was concerned, BC did not do anything different. It was just the ebb and flow of the sport, a regression to the mean.
“The difference was the puck was zipping around tonight,” Parker said, “and we were not anywhere near as alert or as intense as we have to be killing penalties against a team like that.
“’Don’t beat yourself,’” Parker said, echoing what he tells his team. “We did.”