CHESTNUT HILL – BU coach David Quinn had discussed dressing fewer than the standard 18 skaters before. It was a little over a month ago, right after the Boston University men’s hockey team lost to Bentley University, and it was in reference to when he was part of a University of Nebraska-Omaha coaching staff that had done just that to penalize poor play.
Friday night at Conte Forum, Quinn did just as he threatened — but not by choice. Several injuries — and one quitter — forced Quinn’s hand as the Terriers dressed all 17 available skaters in a 6-4 loss to No. 3/4 Boston College, stretching BU’s winless streak to seven games and seven weeks.
Despite the score, it could have been worse for the Terriers (7-12-2, 2-6-1 Hockey East) considering they were rolling five defensemen and their injured fourth-line center, freshman Dillon Lawrence, was not ready to play as of Thursday afternoon, according to Quinn. BU’s particularly physical play against the more talented Eagles (15-4-3, 9-1-1 Hockey East), as well as some opportunistic scoring, made the game a competitive one longer than some others in 2014.
“We probably took a big step in the right direction tonight,” Quinn said. “We competed more than we have been through this stretch where we’ve been struggling.”
The victors outshot BU by a 44-27 margin — including 19-9 in the second period — and scored on both of their power-play opportunities. BC also won 45 faceoffs, losing just 28.
Sophomore goaltender Sean Maguire made 38 saves, one shy of his season high. He was particularly impressive early in the second when Eagles peppered him with 10 shots in the first six minutes, temporarily keeping the game tied.
“He certainly gave us a chance tonight,” Quinn said.
BU got on the board at 10:47 in the first when freshman forward Robbie Baillargeon, skating in the left circle, snipped the top-right corner over BC netminder Brian Billett’s glove.
The Terriers appeared poised to go into the first intermission with that 1-0 lead until Eagle freshman Adam Gilmour knotted the score during a power play in the last minute. Skating across the crease, Gilmour backhanded it by Maguire.
“BU really took it to us the first period,” said BC coach Jerry York, who recorded his 950th win. “We were upset with that first period.”
BC scored twice in the second and took the 3-1 lead into the final period. Junior Quinn Smith finished a big rebound at 4:35, then his classmate, Johnny Gaudreau, one-timed a shot from the slot at 11:05.
Gaudreau’s tally, his 20th of the year, ended a sequence of crisp Eagle passes during another power play.
Freshman wing T.J. Ryan cut the deficit to one 2:50 into the third — he deflected a centering pass from freshman forward Kevin Duane for his first career goal — but the Eagles opened it back up with goals from freshmen Chris Calnan and Gilmour three minutes apart.
Sophomore center Mike Moran finished his own rebound to make it 5-3, and junior wing Cason Hohmann once more made it a one-goal game with a power-play tally at the 16:32 mark.
Again, however, the Terriers’ third-period comeback bid fell short, just as it did against Harvard University and the University of Maine in recent weeks.
“We got down 5-2, which we are used to,” Quinn said. “And we are used to responding the way we did.
“And forget it, we have got the goalie pulled.”
Gaudreau added an empty-netter in the final minute to seal the BC victory.
“He’s as good a player as there is in the country,” Quinn said. “[Gaudreau] kind of flips it backhanded from the blue line and it goes right in the middle of the net. Most players I’d guess they were lucky, but not him. I think he planned that.”