The David Quinn Era is officially underway on Commonwealth Avenue, but after the final buzzer of a 3-1 win for the No. 19 Boston University men’s hockey team over the University of Massachusetts, there was one minor hitch: Apparently, no one saved a puck the first-year head coach.
“That’s going to be addressed,” Quinn said, slamming the table in faux-frustration before allowing a smile to break across his face.
Other than that, though, it was a relatively smooth debut for Quinn’s crew. The Terriers (1-0, 1-0 Hockey East) used three second-period goals, including one from senior captain Garrett Noonan, to overmatch the Minutemen (0-1, 0-1 Hockey East) while sophomore goaltender Sean Maguire made 39 saves to stifle the visitors at the other end.
The first period was a mostly uneventful one — aside from Noonan clearing a near-UMass goal off of the BU goal line — but the Terriers made up for lost time with three tallies in the first eight minutes of the middle frame.
Noonan struck first after a pass from sophomore defenseman Ahti Oksanen, shooting from the point and beating UMass junior Steve Mastalerz stickside to make it 1-0 at just 1:02.
“Once Noons potted the first one, I think we all kind of relaxed,” junior forward Evan Rodrigues said. “We weren’t uptight, just relaxed, played our game and the offense came.”
Four minutes later, Oksanen fed the puck to junior forward Cason Hohmann in the left circle. Hohmann promptly slide it into the slot for freshman forward Tommy Kelley, who one-timed it for the power-play goal and a 2-0 lead. It was BU’s only goal and one of four shots in six chances on the man-advantage.
By then, momentum clearly swung in the Terriers’ favor — a change from a first period that saw the Terriers fail to finish and the Minutemen use speed to their advantage on several occasions.
Oksanen picked up his third assist at 7:32 when he spurred Rodrigues’ rush. Rodrigues stopped at the top of the right circle and sniped the top left corner to make it 3-0.
BU had myriad power-play opportunities the rest of the way — UMass took three minors in a span of 1:20 — but did not capitalize.
“It’s a game of emotions, and you’re up 3-0, [and the Minutemen] elevate their intensity, and they elevate their pace of play,” Quinn said. “We got a little lackadaisical after we got up 3-0.”
All the while, Maguire picked up right where he left off last March, holding the Minutemen scoreless through the first 50 minutes. UMass freshman Steven Iacobellis ended Maguire’s shutout bid at 10:24 with a shot from the left dot to narrow the deficit to 3-1.
“That was a hell of a game,” Rodrigues said. “He really kept us in it. That game could’ve been a lot closer than it was if it weren’t for him, so kudos to him.”
BU’s lines started similar to the ones it played in last week’s exhibition against St. Francis Xavier, but as the game progressed Quinn experimented quite a bit. Sophomore forward Sam Kurker, who was originally the second-line right wing and took two minor penalties, didn’t see the ice for most of the second half.
The Terriers were far from perfect, Quinn noted, mentioning the number of UMass shots as a result of turnovers in particular, but they got the job done. Considering it was their first meaningful game in more than half a year, and everyone had some rust to shake off, they’ll take it.
“It’s going to take a little bit and it took the first period,” Noonan said. “We just said in the locker room, “Let’s calm down. Let’s get back to our hockey.” And that’s what we did, and we played great from there on in.”
As Quinn put it, “Winning is better than losing.”