Looking to build on a Friday night victory over Arizona State University, the Boston University men’s hockey team was upended by the Sun Devils 0-3 Saturday night to split the weekend series.
“The team that wants it more usually wins,” BU head coach Albie O’Connell said. “Arizona State wanted the game more.”
Freshman Vinnie Purpura made his first start in goal for the Terriers (10-10-3, 8-5-2 Hockey East), giving junior Jake Oettinger a well-deserved rest after appearing in every one of BU’s 22 games thus far.
Coming from the Youngstown Phantoms of the United States Hockey League, Purpura was added to the Terrier roster during winter break and has already made a positive impression in his first few weeks with the squad.
“He looks good,” O’Connell said. “He’s calm at practice, and he was really calm before the game.”
There was little to separate the two sides in the first period, with neither side breaking the deadlock through 20 minutes. Purpura started the game flawlessly in the BU crease, turning away all 10 Sun Devil efforts, while the Terriers saw their nine shots on goal saved by ASU (17-10-1) junior netminder Joey Daccord.
In the second period, it was the Sun Devils who tilted the ice and took control.
Forward Filips Buncis drew first blood for ASU three minutes into the period, lofting a shot over Purpura in four-on-four play after a pass from linemate Anthony Croston. It was the second time in as many nights that the duo linked up for a goal.
After an ASU onslaught that saw the Terriers pinned deep in their own zone for much of the period, forward Johnny Walker made the Sun Devil’s lead two at 18:46 with his nation-leading 20th goal of the season.
Among a crowd in front of Purpura, Walker got a stick on a drive from defenseman Joshua Maniscalco, with the second assist credited to forward Dylan Hollman.
Arizona State doubled BU in shots on goal 18-9 in the second stanza. O’Connell said he knows his team left opportunities on the table in the middle period.
“We had a ton of chances,” the coach said. “We could have had 50 shots tonight if we were willing to shoot the puck.”
With the Sun Devils holding a two-goal lead heading into the final 20 minutes, it was Walker again who provided ASU with their third goal to all but seal the victory with seven-and-a-half minutes to go.
The standout attacker tossed home a rebound opportunity, with the assists coming from forward Brett Gruber and defenseman Jacob Wilson.
With his star forward kept quiet the night prior, ASU head coach Greg Powers said he knew that Walker was poised for a big night the second time around.
“Johnny’s always confident, trust me,” Powers said.
The game got scrappy at the end, with roughing and misconduct penalties handed out right at the buzzer to BU graduate forward Max Willman and ASU forward Dominic Garcia.
Arizona State would finish the 3-0 victors, the Sun Devil’s first win over the Terriers in program history. It was the first win over BU in program history for the Sun Devils.
As for the hosts, it was the first game in nine that the Terriers were held goalless through 60 minutes — a streak dating back to Dec. 1 when BU drew with Boston College 0-0.
Purpura made 36 saves in the loss. O’Connell said he was the Terriers’ best player.
“It was a really good effort by him,” the coach said.
The Terriers will host No. 2 UMass on Feb. 1, concluding their five-game homestand.