The University of New Hampshire men’s hockey team outshot Boston University Monday afternoon. While that generally unexceptional stat does not say much about the game, a deeper look does.
The Wildcats took just one shot during BU’s lone man advantage of the game after 1:56 of the Terriers passing the puck but failing to register a chance. That lone shot made its way into the back of the net breaking a stalemate and serving as the game-winner in New Hampshire’s 3-1 victory at Agganis Arena.
“It deflated us,” said BU coach David Quinn while he shook his head. “I thought the second period we started off, we had some zone time and we looked like we may have found our way about us, but the power play just — we lead the country in giving up shorthanded goals.
“And that’s just — it’s been the story of our season. You need to make good decisions. It’s not two minutes of a free opportunity to score a goal. You still have to play hockey and recognize situations. We just made a horrible, horrible play on that goal.”
Before the shorthanded goal in the second period that determined BU’s (8-18-4, 3-10-3 Hockey East) fate, the Terriers had something to feel happy about. Although the team had not come out with the same tenacity it showed in the second half of Friday’s game against the Wildcats (18-15-1, 10-8-0 Hockey East), the team’s third line showed that, at least for the day, it was BU’s top offensive unit.
With just over 12 minutes left in the first frame, third-line wing Brendan Collier picked up the puck in the right corner of BU’s offensive zone and used a quick release to put his odd-angle shot past UNH netminder Casey DeSmith. The goal was the first of Collier’s career and gave the Terriers a 1-0 lead over New Hampshire after the team failed to hold a lead during the first half of the home-and-home series.
The celebration would not last for long, though, as UNH forward Matt Willows scored his first goal of the game, and third of the series, about five minutes later.
As New Hampshire held possession in BU’s defensive zone, the puck bounced off of sophomore defenseman Ahti Oksanen’s skate. Wildcat center Kevin Goumas then found it and sent it over to Willows who deked around sophomore goaltender Sean Maguire, shooting into an open net.
Minutes later, Maguire stopped the Wildcats from taking the lead when he snagged a shot from New Hampshire left wing Jeff Silengo from in tight. Maguire, who made his first start since he gave up four goals during the consolation round of the Beanpot, stopped a total of 35 shots during the game.
Halfway through the contest, BU went on that sole power play of the night. With four seconds left to the advantage filled with passes and no shots, Willows found a pass from sophomore forward Matt Lane that he had teleported away from the wing. Willows then outskated the rest of the Terriers before notching his second goal of the game, making it the 10th shorthanded goal against BU this season to make it a 2-1 game.
“He’s a good player,” Quinn said of Willows. “You can’t give him the opportunities we gave him. He’s fast. He’s tenacious. He’s hard on the puck. He was opportunistic.”
Willows had a chance to complete his hat trick with 7:34 left in the game after freshman defenseman Doyle Somerby slashed Willows on a breakaway. Willows received a penalty shot, but he could not get it by Maguire, who came out of his crease to cut down the right wing’s angle. That did not matter in the end, though, as Willows waited until Maguire was pulled for the extra player to score his third goal of the night to make it 3-1.
“At this point in the season … you can’t take nights off, and we took a night off tonight, which we hadn’t been doing lately,” Quinn said. “I give UNH a lot of credit. They played with a lot of passion. They played with a lot of desperation. And it certainly showed.”