In a scrappy opening to the season, the second-ranked Boston University men’s hockey team trumped No. 16 Union College, 4-1.
Despite a considerable 43-32 shot advantage, BU was entrenched in a tied affair until the final portion of the third period, where they buried Union with three goals.
“Great hockey win,” head coach David Quinn said. “Going into this game I was very curious to see what we would look like. I really liked our pace and thought that there was a physicality to us that will benefit us moving forward.”
Sophomore right wing Patrick Harper starred, notching two goals and an assist. Defenseman Dante Fabbro played the role of hero, with his power-play goal with 7:49 remaining in third period proving to be the deciding factor. Freshman Shane Bowers netted the first tally of his college career, while Brady Tkachuk made his presence felt with a plethora of hits and a late-game assist on an empty net.
BU goaltender Jake Oettinger lived up to the hype in his first action in 2017-18. The sophomore stopped 31 of Union’s 32 shot attempts, making multiple saves in hair-splitting situations late in the third period. Union goaltender Jake Kupsky, a San Jose Sharks draftee, was ravishing as well. The junior stopped 39 shots, recording a .929 save percentage.
“[Oettinger] understands that if [he] just stands there, there’s a pretty good chance [he] is going to stop it,” Quinn said. “He has a great awareness of where the net is, he doesn’t panic, and he does a great job reading the play and anticipating plays. He makes tough saves look easy.”
Union was hot out the outset of the contest and translated that momentum into the first tally of the game. With 8:40 left in the first period, the Dutchmen capitalized on a Bobo Carpenter penalty.
Union center Brett Supinski garnered a feed from Anthony Rinaldi and J.C. Brassard in the middle of the offensive zone, putting it past the outstretched arm of Oettinger for the first goal of the game.
The Terriers did not take long to respond, however. With a fire lit under their bellies, they quickly recovered the momentum. After a penalty called on Union wing Ryan Scarfo, BU applied plentiful pressure on Kupsky. With 6:20 remaining in the first frame, the Terriers finally struck paydirt.
Jordan Greenway and Nikolas Olsson forced the puck in front of the net, and Patrick Harper finished the chance on the left side of Kupsky for the Terriers first goal of the season. BU continued this aggressiveness into the first intermission, leading the Dutchmen in shot attempts, 31-13, and shots on goal, 13-9 in the opening 20 minutes.
Despite falling behind in shots in the latter part of the first, Union battled back in the second. With 12 minutes remaining and a power play just concluding, the Dutchmen nearly took the lead on a rip by wing Ryan Scarfo that hit the right post.
Midway through the second, Union had outshot the Terriers, 8-1, in the stanza. BU regained the edge by the end of the second period, outshooting the Dutchmen 10-4 over the final 10 minutes.
The third period remained a back and forth affair until nine minutes remained. Supinski went to the box for hooking, and the BU offense obliged. Halfway through the power play with 7:49 remaining, Harper weaved a beautiful cross-ice pass to Dante Fabbro. The Nashville Predators draftee ripped it past Kupsky before he could corral it, giving the Terriers a 2-1 lead.
“I just held it and tried to read the coverage,” Harper said. “[Fabbro] did a real good job of finding that seam and I just hit him. It was a great bang-bang play and it was really clutch on Dante’s part.”
“Practice makes perfect,” Fabbro said. “We only worked on it a couple of times [but] we felt good about it. We made a switch between the second and third [periods] by putting me and [Harper] on opposite sides and we built off of that.”
Defenseman Chad Krys was also credited with an assist on the play.
The Dutchmen refused to roll over, however. With three minutes remaining, Union ripped three consecutive shots on Oettinger, each of which had a chance.
With two minutes left, Union center Cole Maier nearly put one past Oettinger, however, the goalie was able to slide in front for the game-saving stop.
The Terriers then proceeded to put the game away. After a Union turnover, Harper beat Brassard up the ice and put the puck in an empty net to give BU a 3-1 lead with 1:14 that they would not relinquish.
One minute later, Tkachuk found Bowers in front of an empty net to give the Terriers a 4-1 margin of victory.
“[Bowers] has a quick mind to go along with his quick feet,” Quinn said. “This game is about playing fast, and he skates and plays fast. He is strong on the puck. [There is] no softness to his game.”