Ice Hockey, Sports

Potent power play keys Terriers to comeback win over River Hawks

BU junior captain Matt Grzelcyk tallied three assists on the power play Sundaty.
BU junior captain Matt Grzelcyk tallied three assists on the power play Sunday. PHOTO BY DANIEL GUAN/DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF


After posting a despondent 0-for-12 showing on the power play during a three-game stretch from Nov. 30-Dec. 6, the No. 2/3 Boston University men’s hockey went back to basics on the man advantage.

The results have followed.

Over their last six games, the Terriers (13-4-4, 8-2-2 Hockey East) have scored nine times on the power play — good for a 34 percent success rate (9-for-26) — culminating with a three-goal showing from the extra-man unit in Sunday afternoon’s 4-3 come-from-behind victory over No. 6 University of Massachusetts Lowell.

The overtime triumph over the River Hawks (15-5-3, 8-2-2 Hockey East) marked the first time that BU notched three power-play tallies in a game since Jan. 4, 2014 — a 7-4 loss to Harvard University.

“We switched our power play a bit, try to get it more to the point, not just shoot from the point, have a good screen in front of the net,” said junior winger Ahti Oksanen. “Just more simple than what it used to be and that seems to be working right now.”

He might not have lit the lamp, but junior captain Matt Grzelcyk did just about everything else on the extra-man unit on Sunday, orchestrating BU’s trio of power-play scores — including freshman center Jack Eichel’s game-winning strike in overtime — with his passing and vision on the ice.

Over his last five games, Grzelcyk has compiled seven assists, including five on the man advantage.

“He’s played great all year,” said BU coach David Quinn on Grzelcyk’s proficiency in extra-skater scenarios. “He shoots it well — he’s really improved his shot. He’s got his head up.”

Grzelcyk and the Terrier power play got going early in the first period.

After Lowell defenseman Dylan Zink was called for hooking, the Terriers cycled the puck around UMass goaltender Kevin Boyle until, with two seconds left on the power play, Grzelcyk uncorked a strong pass from just beyond the right circle to Oksanen, who was left unchecked on the left side of the River Hawks’ crease.

The puck bounced off the Finnish forward and trickled slowly into the Lowell cage to put BU on the board at 5:30.

While Oksanen, Grzelcyk and Eichel were credited for the points on the goal, Quinn acknowledged a total special-teams effort helped manufacture the early goal.

“The first goal we get was just a direct result of [junior forward] Danny O’Regan and Jack, we get a shot, it goes into the corner, they look like they’re going to control it and we beat them to a loose-puck battle,” Quinn said. “Grizzy [Grzelcyk] makes an unbelievable play and Ahti is ready on the backdoor.”

BU’s early lead would prove to be short-lived, however, as three straight goals from the River Hawks dealt the Terriers a two-goal deficit early in the second stanza.

Despite the quick turnaround on the scoresheet, BU’s power-play unit once again made its mark at 7:49 in the second.

After gathering the puck at the right point, senior assistant captain Evan Rodrigues wristed a shot at the Lowell net. The puck ricocheted off of a Lowell skater and bounced right in front of O’Regan, who buried the puck into the River Hawks netting to make it a 3-2 game.

The Terriers saved their best for last on the man advantage, securing their third score in overtime to break what was a 3-3 tie.

With 1:18 eclipsed on the clock in extra time, Grzelcyk spotted a waiting Eichel moored just outside of the left circle. Grzelcyk coasted the puck towards Eichel, who then blasted the biscuit at the River Hawks by way of a one-timer.

Boyle didn’t stand a chance.

The shot sailed past the Lowell netminder to give the Terriers their first win over the River Hawks since Feb. 17, 2012.

“Lately, we’ve been scoring,” Quinn said of his team’s efforts on the power play. “I think we’ve done a much better job of moving it, playing with a pace, puck retrieval.

“Our power play, obviously, won us the game tonight.”

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