The No. 9 Boston University men’s hockey team earned a win over Merrimack College on Friday night at Agganis Arena.
The Terriers (14-7-4, 8-4-3 Hockey East) defeated the Warriors (7-14-5, 2-8-5 Hockey East), to whom they had lost back on Oct. 30, and shut them out 4-0 in BU’s only game of the weekend before the Beanpot Tournament begins Monday.
“Good win by our guys. I thought we played hard against a very tough team to play against,” said BU head coach David Quinn. “… They [Merrimack] make you earn it and they can be frustrating to play against because they defend so hard, and they do a great job clogging the middle.”
Though BU held its foe scoreless, senior Sean Maguire, the evening’s starting goalie, did not get credit for the feat. Just 1:17 into the game, the netminder’s skate blade fell out, so he had to head down the tunnel to have it fixed. During the interim 5:49, sophomore Connor LaCouvee played between the pipes and recorded a save.
LaCouvee was also in net when BU scored its first goal of the game with 7:06 gone in the first period. Junior forward Robbie Baillargeon received a feed in the left circle and rifled it past netminder Collin Delia to make the score 1-0. And since Maguire returned to the ice immediately after the tally and saved all 27 other shots, Baillargeon’s goal became the game-winner and LaCouvee was awarded the victory.
Though Merrimack didn’t find the back of the net during the 60 minutes of play, the Terriers certainly did.
With BU on the penalty kill in the middle period, senior assistant captain Danny O’Regan netted the team’s second shorthanded marker of the year and gave the Terriers a 2-0 lead. He broke up the ice and worked his way around a Merrimack player in the attacking zone, keeping control of the puck and edging ahead enough to wrist it over Delia with 15:52 gone in the frame.
“It was a key goal, too, because it’s 1-0, we’ve had some chances, and they could sense our guys getting frustrated, and penalties were really taking us out of our rhythm,” Quinn said. “And to get a shorthanded goal there really gave us a little bit of breathing room, maybe we stopped grabbing the sticks a little bit tighter, so it was a big goal.”
The coach praised O’Regan’s efforts on the night, saying the forward stepped up and had a lot of energy in the third period. Another senior who had a good night and final frame in particular, according to Quinn, was assistant captain Matt Lane, who scored in the third.
Lane added insurance for the Terriers with 11:57 gone in the final 20 minutes to pad the lead to 3-0. The center shot the puck from low on the right, skated around behind the net as Delia tried to knock it away and tapped in his own rebound for his team-leading 14th goal of the season.
“He’s scored some goal-scorer’s goals,” Quinn said of Lane’s success this year. “He can really snap it, he gets it off quick, he understands you gotta get inside the hash marks to create some offense, and it’s great to see him get rewarded. I mean 14 goals for him is a heck of a senior year.”
With 1:18 left to play, however, senior winger Ahti Oksanen got his own 14th goal of the season and his 50th career tally in empty net fashion to tie him back with Lane for the team lead.
While the Terriers did keep Merrimack off the scoresheet, Quinn said he’d like to see his team play better defensively and even offensively, despite the four goals. BU needs to do a better job “taking people wide and getting to the net more,” and he said he thought the team didn’t spend enough time in places where offense is generated more effectively.
There are “always a lot of things” BU can work on, Quinn said, but he was pleased with the way the Terriers played in the final 10 minutes of the game.
“I thought we played smart hockey,” he said. “We possessed it, we didn’t turn the puck over, a lot of good things and a tough game to play, tough game to play.
“They test your physical and mental abilities, and I thought we passed them both tonight.”