Jack Parker sat quietly while his senior captain, Wade Megan, addressed the media after the 1-0 loss to the University of Massachusetts-Lowell in the Hockey East finals that ended the Boston University men’s hockey team’s season. When Megan said the Terriers had no regrets that night, though, Parker nodded, a gesture of gratitude to his team for the complete effort it gave in his final game.
For 51 minutes Saturday, BU (21-16-2, 15-10-2 Hockey East) and Lowell (26-10-2, 16-9-2 Hockey East) were locked in a 0-0 tie at TD Garden. Junior Derek Arnold scored the game’s only goal 11:09 into the third period. Lowell’s Connor Hellebuyck and BU freshman goalie Sean Maguire matched each other save for save for over 50 minutes, and Hellebuyck stopped 36 shots in all. Maguire finished with 28 saves.
“I couldn’t ask for more of my team. I couldn’t ask for a better weekend for us,” Parker said. “It was unbelievable that it was a 1-0 game with all the chances going on. I was very, very pleased with our effort from start to finish. I thought it was one of the best games we’ve played all year, a real 60-minute effort.”
On the Lowell goal, Megan tripped and lost the puck near the Lowell blue line, springing the River Hawks on a 3-on-2. Senior defenseman Sean Escobedo drove Arnold away from the net on his initial chance, but Arnold came back around the net and flipped the puck over Maguire while he was down to make it 1-0.
The Terriers opened the game with energy, outshooting UML 8-6 in the first period and establishing possession in the offensive zone much more consistently than they did the last two times they saw Lowell. Hellebuyck, however, was ready for every shot he saw, and the River Hawks blocked 21 more in the game before they ever reached him.
“Everyone was on the same page,” said senior forward Ben Rosen. “Third and fourth-line guys were doing their job, dumping the puck in, grinding in there, and first and second-line guys were doing what they had to do on the power play, getting shots through. We outshot [UML] too, but they just collapsed in there, and they were blocking everything.”
Through two periods, BU led in shots, 26-21, but the momentum had begun shifting Lowell’s way.
The Terriers opened the third on a power play but failed to earn quality chances. When the River Hawk in the box, Colin Wright, got out, he picked up the puck in the neutral zone and took off on a breakaway. He fired into the crossbar, and the puck came back out onto the ice through Maguire’s legs, a narrow miss.
Lowell’s goal came about eight minutes later, and after it was 1-0, the River Hawks clamped down, limiting BU’s chances in the game’s final minutes. With Maguire pulled, the Terriers made one last push, but as Hellebuyck stopped a shot from sophomore center Cason Hohmann at the buzzer, they could not prolong Parker’s final postseason.
Including last night, the Terriers went 7-2 in their last nine games. But the stretch between Dec. 29 and Feb. 23 did them in, in no small part because they lost a combined four times to Harvard University and Northeastern University — both of whom finished well south of .500 — in that span.
“I think there are teams in the national tournament that aren’t as good as us right now,” Parker said. “But the reason why we aren’t [in the tournament] is because we had a dip in the middle of the year that we never recovered from.”
Parker maintained, as he did after his last game at Agganis Arena on March 16, that he had forgotten about his career drawing to a close until someone reminded him. An avowed Celtics fan, he took a walk around the Garden before the game to look at the basketball memorabilia on the upper floors.
“I had somebody come up to me and say, hey, you took a walk around, you getting your last tour of duty here?” Parker said. “And it didn’t even dawn on me again. I forgot about that.”
Parker finishes his career with 897 wins, including six Hockey East championships, but the graduating senior class leaves BU without a conference tournament win, a Beanpot win, or a national championship in its four years.
“I’ve won games,” Parker said. “I’ve won tournaments. I’ve done that, so I wanted this for my seniors. But it wasn’t to be.”
Still, the 68-year-old found the bright side: He is walking out on his own, with his health intact.
“I knew how I didn’t want it to end,” Parker said. “I wanted to get out alive. So they’re not carting me out. That’s a good thing at my age.”