Leading into his first game as the head coach of the No. 19 Boston University men’s hockey team, David Quinn noted that the Terriers had not had much time to practice special teams.
“You may want to close your eyes Saturday night when we get out there and have to kill a penalty,” Quinn said on Sept. 30.
After an exhibition game against St. Francis Xavier University that featured 15 penalties in the first two periods, however, the Terriers had more than their fair share of practice. Ultimately, the Terriers won the game 2-1 Saturday evening at Agganis Arena with the only even-strength goal of the game.
With close to nine minutes of penalty-free hockey to start off the game, sophomore forward Sam Kurker opened the gates after he was called for hooking halfway through the first period. With BU having just killed off the penalty, the X-Men were called for tripping twice in the span of 1:38. This marked the first of four times that St. Francis would give BU a 5-on-3 situation, and the first of four times that the Terriers failed to capitalize on the advantage.
With the second penalty still on the clock, the X-Men gave BU another 5-on-3 opportunity. Eventually, with a one-man advantage and seconds ticking off the only remaining penalty, freshman forward Nick Roberto registered his first goal in a BU uniform as he picked up a rebound in front of the net with fewer than five minutes remaining in the period.
BU’s lead did not last for long, however, as freshman defenseman Doyle Somerby went to the box for hooking at 15:43. With the man advantage, the X-Men attacked the net. After a save by sophomore netminder Sean Maguire, forward Rob Slaney picked up a rebound, shoving it through Maguire’s five-hole and tying the game at 1-1.
“I think too often we get puck watching, just like everybody does in this game whether it be this level, the American League level or the NHL,” Quinn said. “That was our problem tonight when we had trouble in our own end.”
Despite a total of nine penalties in the second period, six of which belonged to St. Francis, neither team managed to find the back of the net. Senior goaltender Anthony Moccia, who made his first career appearance, saw just seven shots on goal in the period.
BU eventually took the lead in the third after it recovered from what Quinn called a tough start to the frame.
“I thought the first five minutes were a little bit sloppy,” Quinn said. “I thought they took the play to us, and I thought we got our wits about us and had a pretty good final 15 minutes.”
In what became the least penalty-filled frame of the game, the Terriers ultimately took the lead with fewer than three minutes left in the contest as another freshman added his name to the box score. This time, forward Tommy Kelley ripped a slapshot from the point that deflected into the goal off of a St. Francis defender’s stick.
“You always hope you get production out of your freshmen,” Quinn said. “I thought they showed some skill, they played at a pace, they were physical and overall it was a good night. It was a good start for us.”
While Quinn did say that the team had its bouts of sloppy play, he said overall, the team played well considering the lack of practice time they had coming into the game.
“Anytime you play a game and don’t have a lot of practice, you’re going to be happy with a win,” he said. “I don’t care what the situation is. But winning always beats losing … A lot of situations happened tonight that we just hadn’t gone over yet, and it was a lot of good efforts from a lot of good guys. I thought our young guys did a great job tonight.”