Already in a 2-0 hole during the second half of the middle frame, the Boston University men’s hockey team found itself with another disadvantage. As freshman defenseman Doyle Somerby skated off the ice with a game misconduct, the Terriers would need to kill off a five-minute major penalty and deal with losing a defenseman from an already thin lineup.
As the minutes ticked away, the Terriers (8-15-3, 3-8-2 Hockey East) displayed one of their most impressive penalty kills of the season. Those five minutes of strong play, however, meant little as the Terriers could not overcome an early deficit during Monday’s 3-1 Beanpot opener loss to No. 2 Boston College at TD Garden.
“Boy, I can’t tell you how proud I am of our players,” said BU coach David Quinn. “We competed from the drop of the puck until the whistle blew.
“There was nothing I was going to say to them tonight to make them feel better, but the season isn’t over.”
Carrying its two previous losses to the Eagles (20-4-3, 12-1-1 Hockey East) on its shoulders, BU came into the weekday tilt with the clichéd mindset that anything could happen in the Beanpot. Anything began to fall to the wayside when BC jumped on the board just a few minutes into the game.
With senior captain Patrick MacGregor in the box for tripping at 3:51 in the opening period, the conference’s top offense found the back of the net within seconds. A mere 13 seconds after picking up the man advantage, BC took its initial lead when defenseman Teddy Doherty sent a pass across the ice to open winger Ryan Fitzgerald.
The freshman out of North Reading wristed the puck by BU sophomore netminder Matt O’Connor and into the top shelf of the net for his ninth goal of the season.
Coming into Monday’s tilt, the Eagles held a 14-0-1 record when they scored first while BU was 1-8-0 when its opponent took the initial lead.
The Eagles extended their lead less than two minutes into the second period when their storied second line of forwards Johnny Gaudreau, Bill Arnold and Kevin Hayes teamed up for their collective 135th point of the season.
After receiving a pass from Gaudreau, Arnold skated up to the crease and deked out O’Connor on the right side of the net. Arnold then sent a sharp-angled pass to Hayes who sat at the open side of the goal.
Halfway through the period and down 2-0, Somerby and Hayes got into a scuffle that ended when Hayes landed on the ice. Somerby initially skated into the penalty box before he left the ice with a game misconduct and a five-minute major for hitting from behind. Freshman wing Robbie Baillargeon and Arnold also picked up minor penalties as they were each called for roughing.
The five-minute penalty came as BC began to close in on the shot advantage BU had held for the majority of the night. Despite the disadvantage, the Terriers fended off BC for the entire five minutes, and had two shorthanded opportunities during the kill as well.
“I thought that kind of turned the game around a little bit in our favor,” Quinn said. “I thought early in their power play, they had some great chances and then we settled down a little bit killing… So I thought ironically that gave us a little bit of a lift.”
Although BC netminder Thatcher Demko and the Eagles defense continued to stymie the Terriers, BU nearly cut the lead in half about four minutes into the third. Senior captain Garrett Noonan started off one of the stronger opportunities for the Terriers, as he sent a pass over to sophomore wing Matt Lane. Although Lane had a wide-open net, he could not get a strong shot off. Freshman wing Kevin Duane attempted to pick up the rebound, but the puck appeared to have eyes as it trickled off the pipe stick side and went wide.
The Terriers’ fate changed just two minutes later when BU’s first line teamed up to make it a 2-1 game. Sophomore wing Danny O’Regan got the play started after he cut off a pass from Demko behind the net. O’Regan then sent the puck over to Baillargeon. The freshman out of Enfield, Conn., flung the puck to the right of Demko for his seventh goal of the season.
For the second time in as many meetings, though, Gaudreau finished off the game with any empty-net goal to secure a BC victory. The loss marks the second time in two seasons that BU’s seniors will graduate without a Beanpot title.
“I think I’ll have nightmares about this one for a while,” Noonan said. “It always stings a little bit more losing to BC, but they’re very young guys here who are going to win some Beanpots.”