It had to end sometime, and Friday night was the night.
A healthier and hungrier Boston University men’s hockey team finally snapped its eight-game winless streak, topping No. 17 University of Vermont 4-2 at Agganis Arena.
Opponents scored nearly double the total goals BU (8-13-2, 3-7-1 Hockey East) scored during the streak, but with multiple key players back on the ice after missing time with injuries, the Terriers played their best game of 2014.
“At some point in time, you just have to get sick and tired of losing,” said BU coach David Quinn.
The first period was about as even as it gets between the two teams. Neither team scored, they were tied in shots at 10 apiece and BU only attempted one fewer shot than UVM (12-9-3, 4-7-0 Hockey East). Sophomore goaltender Sean Maguire starred in the frame though, making several acrobatic saves, including two on the same Catamount power play.
The Terriers’offense came to life in the second period, and it started with the newly put together first line. Quinn put junior forward Cason Hohmann, sophomore forward Danny O’Regan and freshman forward Robbie Baillargeon together in an effort to get the most out of his top three scorers this season.
The combination worked just as one would expect, as the three combined to put together a tic-tac-toe passing play that ended with O’Regan popping home his seventh goal of the season into an open net. It was O’Regan’s first goal since Jan. 1 at Harvard University and put BU on the board first.
UVM responded on the power play though, as freshman dynamo Mario Puskarich used the extra space to walk in close to Maguire and squeeze the puck between Maguire and the near post. It was Puskarich’s 11th goal of the season and it quickly ripped away BU’s momentum.
A fortunate bounce on a long stretch pass from freshman winger Nick Roberto caught Vermont defenseman Nick Bruneteau off guard, which helped spring sophomore forward Matt Lane into open space in the slot. Lane did not waste any time with the puck, picking the top corner and sniping it past Vermont goaltender Brody Hoffman for his fifth goal of the season.
Less than two minutes later, BU got an insurance goal when it took advantage of a 5-on-3 power play. Roberto fed sophomore defenseman Ahti Oksanen in the slot and the Finland native did the rest, launching a missile over Hoffman’s glove and giving BU its first two-goal lead since Nov. 30 against Cornell.
“5-on-3s usually make or break it,” Quinn said. “I liked what we did on the 5-on-3. There was a lot of unpredictability, we were moving, we moved the puck quickly, we got some shots and obviously Ahti makes a great play on the goal. Great pass too.”
That insurance proved important in the third period, when Vermont junior Colin Markison put away his fifth goal of the season. Vermont kept the pressure on Maguire for the remainder of the game, peppering him with 14 shots in the third period, but he remained steady between the pipes and finished the game with 36 saves.
Roberto added an empty-net goal with 1.5 seconds remaining in the game and sealed the Terriers’ eighth win of the season.
“About time we got a bounce,” Roberto said. “I feel like the past few games a lot of bounces weren’t going our way, it was nice to get one finally our way.”
BU survived a poor night in terms of taking penalties, as Vermont had nine power-play opportunities in the game, including four in the third. Both UVM goals came with a man advantage. That was the main flaw in an otherwise gutsy effort from a team that finally broke out of its seemingly endless rut.
“Rarely do you win a game when you have nine penalties, but we found a way to win tonight and I couldn’t be happier for our team,” Quinn said. ”When you’ve got a young group that can happen sometimes, and we didn’t accept losing tonight. I couldn’t be prouder.”