Five of the last seven meetings between the No. 6 Boston University men’s hockey team and Yale University had gone into overtime. On Tuesday night at Agganis Arena, however, the victor was hardly ever in question or in need of an extra frame.
Powered by 22 first-period shots and a career night from sophomore defenseman Shane Switzer, the Terriers cruised past their ECAC foe, 5-2. With the victory, BU heads into the winter break with 10 wins for the fourth time in the past six seasons.
“It’s really important to finish on a strong note,” Switzer said. “The second half of the season is so important and to go into it with a win is really good.”
With Yale (4-6-2) starting Sam Tucker between the pipes, the Terriers (10-5-2, 4-2-2 Hockey East) cycled the puck early and often, smothering the crease with bodies and shots. 10:03 into the first stanza, that paid major dividends when a sophomore connection between defenseman Charlie McAvoy and forward Jordan Greenway resulted in the latter deflecting a wrister in.
Hardly satisfied with a 1-0 lead, BU added another 18:51 into the first period, yet again the byproduct of two sophomores linking up. This time it was assistant captain Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson finding Switzer with some X-ray vision, resulting in the former AJHL blueliner’s first collegiate goal.
“I think the team wanted to end the semester off on a good note,” said sophomore forward Bobo Carpenter. “We were excited to get out there one last time, a home game. I think everyone was glad to be out there one last time just to get a good win.”
The tone persisted throughout the second period, with Carpenter netting 59 seconds after the initial draw for his fourth goal of the 2016-17 season. Then, against all expectations, Switzer added another, this time a snipe into the top corner after a bit of patience atop the circles.
BU’s lead grew with 4:30 left in the third period, as freshman forward Clayton Keller capped off a picturesque passing sequence on the power play. What stood out the most, though, was just how dominant the Terriers were for stretches.
“We want that to be our identity without question,” Quinn said. “We want to hound the puck, we want to make life miserable for our opponent, whether it be hounding the puck or when we have it getting to the net and being hard to defend. Like I said, I thought there were times we did that tonight. I don’t think we did it consistently enough, but if you look at that short chart in the first period, we were around their night quite a bit.”
While praise dominated Quinn’s postgame press conference, Yale did stain the night with two opportunistic finishes – both the product of miscues in the defensive zone. The first came by way of senior captain John Hayden, who leads the nation in power-play goals.
The puck bounced his way, and he finished past freshman netminder Jake Oettinger 6:39 into the second frame. Down but not out, the Bulldogs added another early in the third frame, with junior Ryan Hitchcock firing just under the bar.
The blemishes were hardly a critique on Oettinger, though, as he finished the night with 28 saves.
“He’s huge, he keeps us in so many games,” Switzer said. “He plays one of the most important roles on our team.”
Looking down the road, BU won’t play against until its Jan. 5 contest against No. 13 Union College. In the interim, eight Terriers head to either USA or Canada’s preliminary camp for the World Junior Championships, which will take place from Dec. 26 through BU’s contest against the Dutchmen (12-3-2).
Either way, this convincing win over Yale will stay fresh on the squad’s tongue for quite some time.
“You look at the first half and 10-5-2, 4-2-2 in the league, and I think we just went up to four in the Pairwise rankings,” Quinn said. “It’s been a really good first half for us. We feel our best hockey is ahead of us.
“It’s a great group,” Quinn added. “I love coming to the rink every day with them. They work hard, they care for each other, they’re forming some of those characteristics you need to have as a group to win important games in late March and April. We feel really good about where we’re at.”