An early three-goal lead wasn’t enough for the Boston University men’s hockey team on Saturday night as the Terriers were overcome by Dartmouth College 5-4 at Thompson Arena.
During the post-game press conference, BU head coach Albie O’Connell said BU played well during stretches of the game, but mistakes drowned out those positive moments.
“We did a lot of positives tonight,” O’Connell said. “But they don’t outweigh some of the negative competitive stuff we have.”
It was BU’s first visit to the Big Green since November of 2014 when Dartmouth handed BU its only shutout in a season where the Terriers reached the national championship game.
“Last time they were here, Jack Eichel was on the ice,” Dartmouth head coach Bob Gaudet said during a press conference. “I told the guys, ‘enjoy it, we have an opportunity to play Boston University.’”
Fresh off an overtime win over Brown University on Wednesday, the Terriers broke out for three goals in 13 minutes to start the game.
Freshman forward Sam Stevens got BU on the board first from close range before senior forward Gabriel Chabot converted a chance on the rush and sophomore forward Matthew Quercia knocked in a third goal from just inches off the goal line.
The Big Green began to chip away at the BU lead when freshman forward Mark Gallant tipped one in. Suddenly, goals from junior forwards Matt Baker and Quin Foreman just 24 seconds apart had the game tied at three going into the first intermission.
“I thought our guys battled really hard,” Gaudet said. “To actually tie the score up in the first [period] was great for us.”
The third Dartmouth goal provoked O’Connell to pull graduate goaltender Sam Tucker in favor of freshman goalie Ashton Abel, marking the recent addition’s collegiate debut. Tucker exited with 12 saves while Abel finished with 20.
O’Connell said it was a team effort that contributed to the Terriers’ downfall and that the team needed to play hard the entire game.
“I felt like if we played hard and we played the right way for the 60 minutes, I don’t think we would have lost,” O’Connell said. “Goaltending, no goaltending, whatever you say.”
Freshman forward Wilmer Skoog restored the Terrier advantage with a highlight-reel goal 1:46 into the second period, elevating the puck from behind the net and flicking it past the Dartmouth netminder to score his second goal in as many games with BU.
O’Connell said the first impression Skoog made was amazing.
“As a guy who’s only been here for about 20 days, he’s emerging into a leader in the way he plays,” said O’Connell.
From the opposing bench, Gaudet was amazed by the freshman’s ability.
“You just gotta clap for the kid,” Gaudet said. “It was just ridiculous.”
Sophomore forward Drew O’Connor’s pair of goals within a minute of each other later in the middle frame gave Dartmouth its first lead of the night. As the game progressed, BU junior defenseman Cam Crotty’s potential equalizer shortly after was wiped off the board for goaltender interference after officials ruled that senior forward Patrick Harper made contact with the Dartmouth goalie.
O’Connell agreed with the referees and said he wanted his team to make plays in front of the net, even if some goals get overturned.
“I thought [it was] the right call,” O’Connell said. “[Harper] was going to the net, it happens in hockey all the time. I’d rather him go to the net every time and take one of those than go off to the side of the net and us not score.”
Unsuccessful stretches of special teams play kept the third period scoreless, and the Big Green survived a final BU push to emerge victorious, 5-4.
O’Connell said the Terriers’ most difficult opponent in the game was themselves.
“I felt like we beat ourselves tonight,” O’Connell said.
With his team’s three-game win streak snapped, O’Connell said the team has the skills and talent to win, but the team’s mentality to needs to change.
“We just need more buy-in in the locker room, that’s the reality,” O’Connell said. “We’ve got enough good players. We’ve got enough competitors. We just need more buy-in, and it comes from the top.”
BU will return to Hockey East play next weekend to face Merrimack College and Boston College.