The No. 6 Boston University hockey were three wins away from a national title when they faced No. 3 University of Minnesota Duluth on Saturday. Coming off a sensational win the night before, the Terriers (24-12-3) could practically see the Chicago skyline from the ice in Fargo, ND. However, BU fell just short of a trip to the Frozen Four when the Bulldogs (27-6-7) defeated them 3-2 in overtime.
Freshman forward Patrick Harper netted the tying goal late in the third to send the game to overtime. Sophomore Adam Johnson served the fatal blow while on the power play just minutes into OT.
Head coach David Quinn said his team proved themselves tonight and all season, despite being a young team placed in the spotlight.
“Our biggest concern on the staff as the season started was were we going to think we’re better than we actually were?” Quinn said. “Were we reading our press clippings? Did we take for granted that we were going to be able to just show up and win hockey games and that never was the case. Sure we got too cute at times and we were immature at times but it wasn’t from a lack of respect in your opponent or thinking we were better than we were.”
Although the Terriers were likely still tired from the game Friday, they didn’t get off to a slow start. In fact, for the first time since February 6th, the Terriers struck first. Freshman forward Clayton Keller netted his 21st goal of the season 7:59 into the game for the 1-0 lead.
The boys from Boston held on to their rare, early lead for most of the first period, but with 18 seconds left, senior Alex Iafallo scored a stunning wrap-around goal. Freshman goaltender Jake Oettinger couldn’t beat the speeding forward across the crease so at the end of twenty minutes, the game was tied.
The second period was quiet on the goal-scoring front. While it wasn’t low in energy, it was low in opportunities.When the horn sounded marking the end of the second, shots were 14-10 in Duluth’s favor. Blocked shots were nearly equivalent to shots with the Terriers blocking 14 and the Bulldogs blocking nine.
Defense was the name of the game all night. Coming into the game, both teams ranked in the top ten nationally in goals allowed. Duluth averaged 2.28 goals allowed a game while Boston allowed 2.29. Oettinger and Duluth netminder, Hunter Miska, both freshmen, proved age is just a number. Although they are young, they were mature in net, thwarting opportunities on either side of the rink. Oettinger’s 0.929 save percentage was just marginally better than Miska’s 0.919 save percentage. Additionally, the penalty kill went two for three on the night.
Quinn said giving up penalties were not the problem, but rather the timing of the penalties was.
“I don’t know how many we had killed, in a row, but we hadn’t given up a [power play] goal in the post-season until that one,” Quinn said. “It’s disappointing. We only had three minutes of power play tonight.”
Just as they were the day before, the Terriers were tied at one after two periods. It would come down to the final twenty minutes, or more. BU is a without a doubt, strongest in the third period. They scored 53 of their 120 goals this season in the final frame and continued that trend Saturday.
Both teams hit the ice running in the third. The Terriers put up 13 shots, more than the two previous periods combined. The Bulldogs forced BU to step up its game even more after freshman Joey Anderson scored the go-ahead goal. BU had just over eight minutes to tie the game.
From that point on, the Terriers took over. Freshmen defenders Chad Krys and Dante Fabbro teamed up to find freshman forward Patrick Harper who scored the tying goal with 3:13 left in the game. Along with Keller’s goal BU freshman tallied four points against the Bulldogs.
Unlike the night before, overtime did not last long. Less than two minutes in, sophomore forward Bobo Carpenter was sent to the box for tripping. Eighteen seconds later, the Bulldogs scored. Johnson’s shot flew top shelf past Oettinger, ending the game and the Terriers’ season and three senior’s careers at BU.
Captain and senior defender Doyle Somerby summarized the game and his career well.
“When you get ten wins your first year you don’t really know what to expect after that,” Somerby said of his freshman season. “To make the tournament three times in a row is pretty special. Obviously I wish it ended better. You always want to write the right end of the script but it was just a tough game.”