NORTH ANDOVER — Freshman winger Chase Phelps stood eagerly behind the glass of the penalty box, waiting out the roughing minor he had earned two minutes prior. The penalty clock ticked down to zero, and he leapt out onto the ice, skating to join the rush his teammates started. But he’s stopped at the blue line seconds later. Another penalty. It’s on him again, but this time it’s for interference.
Phelps’ back-to-back special counted for just two of the eight penalties the No. 2/3 Boston University men’s ice hockey team took in its 1-1 tie with No. 18 Merrimack College on Saturday night.
The Terriers’ (9-3-2, 6-1-2 Hockey East) workload was heaviest in the second period when the team had to kill off five penalties in addition to losing freshman defenseman John MacLeod to a 10-minute misconduct that he earned after boarding one of the Warriors (10-4-2, 4-3-1 Hockey East). MacLeod leads the team in penalties with 12 and was responsible for three of the six committed in the middle frame, his third multi-penalty game.
But despite being down a man for a cumulative 14 minutes of the contest, the Terriers were a perfect 7-for-7 on the penalty kill. Their pristine campaign during the game shot them up to 13th in the nation, just four spots below Merrimack.
Their power play, however, was a little worse for wear as BU failed to convert on all six attempts it had with the extra skater.
On chances with the man advantage this season, the Terriers had posted a pretty prolific 22.5 percent success rate, a top 10 percentage, but lack of conversion against Merrimack caused it to drop to 19.6 percent.
“I thought our penalty kill was outstanding, but killing five penalties in the second period, you just can’t have that,” said BU head coach David Quinn. “I thought we were immense on the penalty kill, I’m sure [Merrimack head coach] Mark [Dennehy] feels the same way. We were 0-for-6 [on the power play]. We’re also both coaches who are probably frustrated with their power plays.”
Quinn was especially aware of this towards the end of the game when the Warriors gave BU two power play chances late in the third and with 1:30 left in overtime. Players like freshman center Jack Eichel, junior wing Danny O’Regan, and junior captain Matt Grzelcyk, among others who play on both the penalty kill and power play’s top units, were used in excess against the Warriors because of the numerous special teams opportunities.
“[We] had two big power plays at the end of the game and just couldn’t, not only get a goal, we really couldn’t muster much on either power play,” he said. “I think a lot of that had to do with the fact that our top players killed penalties, and they killed so many penalties in the second period, I just thought they were a little bit tired.
“You put out top guys a lot when you have 13 penalties in a game between both teams,” he added. “Both teams use a lot of their top players, and what you get is some sluggish power plays in the third period, which I thought we had.”