SOUTH BEND, Ind. – Seventy-two years.
That’s how long it has been since the last time the Boston University men’s hockey team was shut out in back-to-back games. The 1941-42 Terriers lost 8-0 to Yale University before dropping a contest with Princeton University 3-0 three days later.
That was until Saturday night, when BU generated 22 shots and no goals against No. 15 University of Notre Dame goaltender Steven Summerhays in a 2-0 loss at Compton Family Ice Arena. It marked the second consecutive game that BU was held to fewer than 25 shots.
Even a lineup shake-up that moved freshman forward Kevin Duane to the first line, sophomore forward Danny O’Regan back to center and sophomore winger Matt Lane down to the third line could not spark an offense that has scored 2.29 goals-per-game this season — the third worst in Hockey East.
“I’m trying everything right now,” said BU coach David Quinn. “It’s been frustrating for everybody and it’s just, I just want to shake it up because we’re not generating a lot. It’s been frustrating.”
Perhaps the most frustrating thing for the Terriers was that the offense did not kick in when the team needed it most. While BU was outshot 11-7 in the first period and 12-8 in the second period, the shot differential spiked up to 17-7 in the third and final frame. Grade-A scoring chances in the third period were 10-2 in favor of the Fighting Irish.
Part of this lack of offensive opportunity has to do with the fact that BU struggled to get the puck anywhere near the front of the goal during the weekend. Notre Dame played five defensemen that were 6-feet or taller — four of whom were over 200 pounds. BU only had three forwards at 6-feet or taller in its top-nine forwards — two of whom were over 200 pounds.
Plus, BU simply could not get the puck out of its own zone. Notre Dame attempted 66 shots Saturday night compared to BU’s 39 shots, and most of the Terriers’ shot attempts were on the initial rush instead of after sustained puck possession.
Senior captain Garrett Noonan said the key to getting more offense was to improve upon the team’s play in its defensive zone.
“I think defending with our feet a little better,” Noonan said. “I know coach touched on that in the room and it’s something we need to work on — we keep working on. Again, I think we defended pretty well, we just didn’t sustain any zone time and that happens.”
The BU offense has even struggled when it has had the man advantage, as it has failed to score a power-play goal in seven of its last eight games. It has gone 2-for-35 during that span, including a five-minute stretch with the man advantage in the third period where it only managed one scoring chance. The rest of the time, BU was chasing the puck back into its own zone.
“Obviously it has peaks and valleys, and right now we’re in a little bit of a valley,” Noonan said. “We need to get out of it quickly because you get a chance like that you can win a hockey game like that if our power play’s going, so it’s just frustrating.”
The Terriers have only scored one goal in their last three games, which is a trend they will have to break if they want to be competitive against Northeastern University in the final series of the season. BU will be facing goaltender Clay Witt, who has the best save percentage in the league (.940) this season. It will also have to outscore a Northeastern (18-10-4, 10-6-2 Hockey East) team that is second in Hockey East in goal scoring (3.28 goals per game).
A win against Northeastern would give BU a good chance of facing Notre Dame in the first round of the Hockey East Tournament.
“I want to win a game, so yes I hope to come back here,” Quinn said. “I’d like to win two games.”