The No. 11 Boston University men’s hockey team learned “an awful lot about” itself this weekend, according to head coach David Quinn, including the fact that BU can hold its own against the top teams in the nation.
For the second game in as many nights, the Terriers (5-3-2, 3-2-2 Hockey East) came from behind to tie No. 1 Providence College, 3-3, on Saturday, earning two of four points in the league standings.
Back-to-back games of physicality and high-intensity hockey yielded similar results in terms of record and resiliency, as BU turned in another third period that gave the Friars (6-0-3, 0-0-2 Hockey East) trouble. Again, it took the team that long to find the scoresheet.
Like the night before, the Friars got on the board first. With 17:13 gone in the first frame, the teams prepped for a faceoff in BU’s defensive zone. Freshman center Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson won the battle at the left dot, but senior Nick Saracino pulled the puck to him and found his center, Brian Pinho, in the slot. The sophomore finished things off with a shot that beat sophomore goaltender Connor LaCouvee.
Providence added another goal in the second period during a 5-on-3 power-play opportunity. Senior John Gilmour fed the puck to defenseman Jake Walman at the right circle, who then unleashed a slapper to pad his team’s lead.
Penalties were issues for both sides, as each team took eight minors and were awarded seven power-play chances, converting on two apiece.
With 6:42 expired in the third, senior John Gilmour took a roughing penalty and put the Terriers on the power play. Thirty seconds later, after BU cycled the puck around the attacking zone, senior wing Ahti Oksanen got the puck down low on the right from senior captain Matt Grzelcyk and fired a no-angle shot at the side of the cage. It squeezed between goaltender Nick Ellis and pinged off the pipe before finding the back of the net to bring BU within one.
“I thought their guy was great in net tonight,” Quinn said. “And we had some golden chances and we just couldn’t get one by him, and then when we got one by him, we started smelling blood a little bit and I thought we were buzzing.”
The Terriers were presented another chance with the man advantage shortly after Oksanen’s goal, and though they failed to convert, they kept pressure on. With with 9:40 gone, seven seconds after the power play expired, Forsbacka Karlsson got the puck at the right circle and benefitted from Oksanen and a pair of Friars screening Ellis down low, tying things up.
The rookie forward gave his team the lead 2:52 later on another power play. He bided his time through the zone, eventually winding up in the high slot where he placed a shot in the top of the net.
One minute and 17 seconds after Forsbacka Karlsson’s tally, the Friars knotted things up again when Walman got his second of the game on a power-play shot from the right point. The puck hit LaCouvee’s pad with a thud but trickled to the back of the cage for a goal.
The teams continued putting pressure on one another but neither would score in the remaining time or in the five-minute overtime period that followed. The Terriers racked up 37 total shots on net after being outshot 25-15 for the first 40 minutes while Providence tested LaCouvee 35 times.
“That’s a big, strong, well-balanced team,” Quinn said. “We showed a lot of resiliency, we showed some mental toughness, we showed great team camaraderie and there’s a checklist you’re going to need if you’re going to win championships, starting with talent, and if you’ve got enough talent, then there’s about seven or eight other things you’re going to need if you’re going to have success and I think we keep checking the boxes as the season moves on, which is a good sign.”
Grzelcyk noted that it’s tough to battle back the way BU did the past two nights, but his squad showed “a lot of resolve” in its draws.
“I’m really proud of our team for sticking to it,” he said. “A lot of teams might not have been as mentally tough as us … We have a lot to feel confident about the rest of this season.
“I think we’ve been playing great hockey as of late, especially the weekend before,” Grzelcyk added. “Coach talked to us in the locker room, we felt like we were playing about 40 percent of our potential leading up to last weekend so we just kept getting better and better and we’re looking to improve each and every game.”
“There’s a lot to like about where we’re at right now but certainly by no means are we satisfied,” Quinn said. “But we like the direction we’re going.”