Ice Hockey, Sports

Rest, power-play execution spur Terriers’ 3rd-period run against UMass

Junior captain Matt Grzelcyk notched three points in the third period Friday against UMass Amherst. PHOTO BY MAYA DEVEREAUX/DAILY FREE PRESS
Junior captain Matt Grzelcyk notched three points in the third period Friday against UMass Amherst. PHOTO BY MAYA DEVEREAUX/DAILY FREE PRESS

Just 12 seconds into the No. 2 Boston University men’s hockey team’s fourth power-play bid of the night, freshman center Jack Eichel made his mark.

The Chelmsford native’s one-timer strike erased the Terriers’ (16-4-4, 11-2-2 Hockey East) one-goal deficit against the University of Massachusetts Amherst — knotting the score at 5-5 with a little over seven minutes remaining in the contest.

The momentum was firmly back on the Terriers’ side.

BU coach David Quinn’s message to his team in the ensuing timeout? Rest.

“I didn’t say a word to ‘em,” Quinn said. “Both power-play units were tired, I thought it was a key point in the game. I wanted to get [junior captain Matt] Grzelcyk’s unit out there with Jack and [junior forward] Danny [O’Regan], they were hot and I wanted them to get out there.”

Quinn’s call to give his players a slight reprieve from the ice seemed to pay off, as the Terriers would go on to light the lamp four straight times to close out the game, sealing a 9-5 win over the Minutemen (8-17-1, 3-12-1 Hockey East) Friday night at Agganis Arena.

For senior assistant captain Evan Rodrigues, the break gave the Terriers a chance to collect themselves before their fifth extra-man opportunity — the byproduct of a goaltender interference call against UMass forward Keith Burchett at 13:32.

“[Quinn] just told us to kind of relax and keep out gameplan,” Rodrigues said. “I think we were going on a power play, so he just went over that, made sure everyone was fresh going into it. … We kind of just gathered together and went out there and executed.”

The timeout appeared to pay instant dividends.

Just 17 seconds after Quinn’s stoppage call, Grzelcyk’s wrister from the point soared past a screen — and UMass netminder Henry Dill — to hand BU a 6-5 advantage at 13:48.

Grzelcyk’s first goal of the 2014-15 campaign further unleashed what was a swarm of Terrier tallies over the closing minutes of play.

The Terrier’s newfound lead swelled to three just under two minutes later, as Rodrigues threaded the needle at the UMass crease, finding a lurking Eichel on the backdoor. The freshman promptly sent the puck into Minutemen netting at 15:40 to add some extra insurance on the scoreboard.

Once again, the Minutemen’s struggles with staying out of the sin bin proved costly in the final stretches of the match, as BU secured two additional scores on the man advantage over the last two minutes to cap its scoring spurt.

BU’s eighth goal at 18:20 handed junior forward Ahti Oksanen his first career hat trick, while freshman defenseman Brandon Hickey’s second goal of the contest at 19:14 put the finishing touches on the slugfest.

In what was a nine-goal third period for both squads, the Terriers’ dominance on the power play made the difference, finishing the final stanza with a flawless 5-for-5 showing on the man advantage — and a 6-for-8 (75 percent) mark overall.

The Terriers now boast the second-best power-play unit in the nation (25-of-93, 26.88 percent), trailing only the University of Minnesota (24-of-89, 26.97 percent.)

“It just seemed like every shot that either team took kind went into the back of the net,” Rodrigues said. “Those games are going to happen, but you got to try to stick to the system, not cheat, and we were fortunate to get more bounces than they did.”

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