In the closing game of the No. 13 Boston University hockey team’s season series against No. 2/3 Boston College, the Eagles (11-5-0, 8-3-0 Hockey East) avoided a season sweep with a 6-1 drubbing of the Terriers (8-5-1, 6-4-1 Hockey East) Saturday night at Agganis Arena.
It was the Terriers’ first loss in their last six games, ending BU’s longest win streak since closing out its 2008-09 NCAA championship run. It also marked the end of a strange weekend for the Terriers, who won a game Friday despite getting outplayed and lost a game Saturday despite their improved play.
“I explained that in the dressing room, that ‘You probably are wondering why we got a W [Friday] and I’m really upset with you, and then I’m telling you that was a pretty good game tonight,’” said BU head coach Jack Parker. “Sometimes it goes that way. For the most part, we were playing the right way tonight.
“We were that much better tonight coming out of our zone, that much better tonight through center ice. We just didn’t get a W. We got a W [Friday] night that maybe we didn’t . . . I won’t say we didn’t deserve it, but we were trying to give it away, I thought.”
The Terriers got off to a difficult start Saturday, as BC scored first for the first time this season against BU. Senior goaltender Kieran Millan struggled to cover the puck on an initial shot 5:15 into the period from just in front of him, and the puck slid to his left, where freshman Danny Linell waited and slipped it past both Millan and junior defenseman Max Nicastro, who was trying to cover some of the empty net, to make it a 1-0 Eagles lead.
BU evened the score near the end of the period. With 1:04 remaining in the frame, junior defenseman Ryan Ruikka released a slap shot from the point that senior captain Chris Connolly tipped wide. Senior forward Corey Trivino pounced on the rebound behind the net and directed it in off BC goalie Brian Billett for the goal.
“[The puck] ended up going to Ryan [Ruikka] and the puck was on edge a little bit and he got it towards the net,” Connolly said. “I was able to get a redirection on it just to kind of get it towards the net and I lost sight of it. I wasn’t really sure where it was. Corey knew the goalie was a little out of position so he just made a smart play and threw it back at the net and was able to bank it off the goalie and into the net there.”
The goal was the highlight of the night for the Terriers, who then fell into a hole in the second period.
Early in the period, it looked like BU would take the lead when a Connolly wrister seemed to go in off the right post, but a review proved that the puck only hit iron and never went in. Seconds later, it was the Eagles who took the lead when senior Tommy Cross carried the puck into the offensive zone and roofed a backhander past Millan to give BC a 2-1 lead 1:50 into the period.
“The big boost we got was Tommy Cross’s top-shelf backhand,” said BC head coach Jerry York. “From the captain, it just lifted the whole bench and I thought we were on our way to having a really special night, and it turned out that way.”
But BC’s special night did not really get going until the last seven minutes of the period. The Terriers dominated play through much of the frame, earning two power plays and outshooting BC 22-8, but failed to find a way to beat Billett.
Like with Cross’s goal, BC scored its third goal of the night right after there was heavy BU pressure around the BC net. With just more than six minutes remaining in the period, the Terriers lost control of the puck following a few consecutive scoring chances. Junior Chris Kreider took it and charged into the BU zone largely unchallenged before firing a wrister off the right post and past Millan to give BC a 3-1 lead.
The Eagles extended their lead to 4-1 just more than two minutes later, when freshman Johnny Gaudreau jumped on a juicy rebound off a Brian Dumoulin shot and buried it 15:55 into the frame.
The Eagles made it a 5-1 game with less than two minutes remaining in the period. They caught the Terriers in the middle of a change following another shift full of offensive chances for BU. BC sent sophomore Bill Arnold into the BU zone with just one Terrier on the play, and Arnold took advantage, taking his time to wind up a slapper and fire it past Millan.
The Eagles wrapped up the scoring in the third period when, shortly after BU killed off a 5-on-3, BC senior Paul Carey sent a wrister from the right circle past senior goaltender Grant Rollheiser, who replaced Millan to start the third period.
“It makes a big difference when you’re down at one end and you don’t score and they go right down to the other end and score,” Parker said. “It happens a lot in hockey, though. It’s amazing how that’s part of the game sometimes. We had our chances, that’s for sure.”