A disappointing weekend for the No. 2 Boston University men’s hockey team ended in crushing fashion on Saturday night, as the Terriers (2-2) fell 3-0 to Minnesota State University.
The loss concluded a two-game sweep at the hands of the Mavericks (2-1), who entered Agganis Arena following a 4-0 shellacking at the hands of St. Cloud State University in their season opener.
Even though BU outshot Minnesota State in the first period, the Mavericks rebounded nicely and finished off the game by outshooting the Terriers 28-26.
In the first period, BU was the enforcer, releasing 24 shots compared to Minnesota State’s 11.
In the final two periods, the script was flipped as the Mavericks shot 42 times compared to just 22 from the Terriers.
The primary reason why Minnesota State was able to stay within fighting position while being forced on their heels throughout the first period was the play of goaltender Jason Pawloski.
“[Pawloski] took the opportunity and ran with it,” Mavericks head coach Mike Hastings said. “He has come a long way since last year. We need him to continue to progress. Tonight, he handled the first period, and the team backed him the next two.”
Pawloski was lights out on Saturday night. He pitched a shutout against a formidable Terriers offense, saving 26 shots in 60 minutes for his first win of 2017-18.
“He was balanced,” BU head coach David Quinn said. “He was ready for the second shot. He made himself big. They do a good job protecting him at the net front [as well].”
Pawloski stopped 12 shots in the first period and 10 in the third period to stave off a BU comeback. His counterpart, sophomore goaltender Jake Oettinger still managed to save 25 shots of his own.
However, Oettinger allowed two goals to skip by him to finish up the weekend.
The Mavericks were also stifling defensively. Using their physicality and veteran savviness, Minnesota State crowded the net defensively, blocking 14 shots.
Pawloski was assisted on a plethora of occasions by his defense, which was willing to place their bodies on the line to prevent rips from the Terriers from reaching the goal.
Minnesota State also forced the issue on the Terriers in the loose puck battle. The Mavericks were aggressive when it came to stray pucks on the side boards and in the offensive zone.
“When we face adversity in the middle of a game, we tend to feel sorry for ourselves,” Quinn said. “The body language — sagging the shoulders, bobbing the head. Then, we give up a goal off of a faceoff. We played against a team that plays a man’s game. They are physical, and they are fast. We go to battle people, and we lose the battles. Hopefully, in the next few months, we will win some of those battles.”
One of these loose pucks concluded in a crucial tally for senior forward C.J. Suess 13:56 into the second period. After Oettinger stopped a shot on goal by senior forward Zeb Knutson, the rebound floated into the middle of BU’s defensive zone.
Suess won the race to the puck and flipped it past Oettinger to provide his team with some much needed insurance.
However, the Terriers efforts on Saturday resembled the hard-ironed identity that the team is attempting to form, more so than in their 6-3 loss to the Mavericks on Friday night.
“I thought we did a lot of the things tonight that we did not do last night,” Quinn said. “Obviously, we had a good first period, [but we] could not get a power play goal.”