Twenty-nine seconds into overtime, the No. 7 Boston University men’s hockey team had its 11th home win of the season locked up.
Or so it thought.
Freshman winger Jordan Greenway, standing in front of the crease, redirected a shot from the point into the net, appearing to have the game-winning goal over No. 11 University of Massachusetts Lowell. However, the refs unsure if the 6-foot-5 Greenway kept his stick under the crossbar, decided to take a second look at the play.
Smiling after the game, Greenway was uncertain during the minute-plus review if the goal would be waived off or not, but he was sure about what he wanted the result to be.
“I was just hoping it wasn’t [overturned],” Greenway said.
Sure enough, the goal was upheld, and Terriers (17-8-4, 10-4-3 Hockey East) defeated Lowell, 2-1, at Agganis Arena.
The Terriers have now won six of their last seven games and have not lost to a team not named Boston College since Dec. 11.
In terms of playoff positioning and seeding, this game had plenty of implications. BU has a chance to jump to fourth place in Hockey East by the end of Saturday night, which would mean a first-round bye and home ice in the Hockey East quarterfinals.
The win puts BU one point behind Lowell (17-7-5, 10-5-4 Hockey East) for that top-four spot. The Terriers are also the beneficiaries of having two games in hand on the River Hawks.
“It’s playoff hockey from here on in,” said BU head coach David Quinn. “Certainly had a playoff feel to it. Every inch of ice was contested for, low scoring game, just, I thought we had some great chances we weren’t able to capitalize on. And I’m sure they had some great chances they weren’t able to capitalize on.”
It was not as if there were shot attempts in the first period (Lowell out-attempted BU 24-18 in the frame), but both teams missed out on multiple opportunities, like the 2-on-1 BU had with senior forwards Ahti Oksanen and Matt Lane.
Senior netminder Sean Maguire and his counterpart, Kevin Boyle, made all the necessary stops through 37:23 of the game, but the Terriers broke through late in the second.
Freshman defenseman Charlie McAvoy got the puck in the defensive zone made an outlet pass through the neutral zone, hitting senior forward Mike Moran in stride at the opposing blue line. Moran, skating in all alone on goal, beat Boyle five-hole for his third goal of the year.
Moran’s tally broke a streak of more than 107 minutes in which the Terriers were kept off the scoreboard. Not known for his scoring, with just 13 goals in four seasons, Moran, Quinn said, has put in the effort to add more of an offensive element to his game.
But more than that, this goal came at the right point in time.
“It was a great play by Charlie, and a timely goal,” Quinn said. “They had a little bit of momentum at that time, they had the power play and didn’t get anything out it, but they had us hemmed in a little bit right after that.
For the rest of the second and most of the third, the one goal looked like it would stand up as the only one BU would need. The Terriers, for the most part, held it together defensively and limited their penalty minutes to just six.
Maguire, coming off an MVP performance in the Beanpot championship, stayed in control of the crease for most of the night with 25 saves. When he veered out of the net, though, problems arose.
With about 7:30 left in the third period, Maguire skated behind his goal, looking to play the puck to one of his two defensemen — junior Doyle Somerby and sophomore John MacLeod. Yet something was lost in translation, and neither blue liner went to retrieve the puck.
Forward Ryan Dmowski did, however, corral it and shovel it at Maguire as the netminder scrambled back to the crease. The puck stayed out the net momentarily, but senior captain A.J. White tapped in the rebound.
BU had over seven minutes to recover and regain the lead, but Boyle held them off the board, forcing BU to play overtime for the second straight game. But at the end of regulation, BU was set up for what ended up being the power play that decided the game when Dmowski hit Somerby hard into the wall and was called for boarding.
On the ensuing power play in overtime, BU controlled the puck at the point, where senior captain Matt Grzelcyk wristed the shot from the point that Greenway deflected past Boyle.
With the goal under review, Quinn said the team was ready for it potentially not counting.
“You can’t assume you’re gonna score, and you’re almost preparing your team that it’s not a goal, and if it is waved off you’re not surprised and set back by it,” Quinn said. “… And then obviously we’re all ecstatic with the result.”
Knowing a win tomorrow would put them ahead of the River Hawks in the standings, Moran said BU is aware of the situation, but is focusing on doing its part in the game before thinking about any playoff scenario.
“I think definitely it’s in the back of our minds,” Moran said. “Obviously we’re just looking at tomorrow. Lowell’s a great team, but if we were to get that win, it would be definitely huge for us.”