The No. 1 University of Denver came, it saw, and it conquered, but not without a tough fight from the No. 6 Boston University men’s hockey team.
The Pioneers’ (3-0-2), who entered the matchup as the reining 2017 NCAA Champions, forward Troy Terry came up with a goal with 16.1 seconds remaining in the game to give Denver a 4-3 win over the Terriers (3-3-1, 1-0-1 Hockey East).
“Great college hockey game,” BU head coach David Quinn said. “Obviously incredibly disappointing to have it end the way it did … We just got to learn how to win and finish games like this off, that’s the bottom line.”
Less than three minutes into the first period of the contest, the Pioneers proved their offensive dominance as forward Dylan Gambrell out-battled the Terriers’ defense and freshman forward Jake Durflinger chipped in the rebound.
Only 63 seconds later, Denver capitalized on its first power play of the night.
Forward Liam Finlay’s shot from the left circle got caught in traffic, but once again the Pioneers proved deadly on the rebound and forward Colin Staub poked the puck by sophomore goaltender Jake Oettinger’s side to give Denver a 2-0 lead within the first four minutes of the game.
Quinn said he liked the way his team battled against the Pioneers.
“In order to win championships, you need a lot of characteristics, not just talent, and being mentally tough and resilient are certainly two of the characteristics you’re going to need to win championships and we’ve been showing that throughout the year,” Quinn said.
Graduate transfer forward Drew Melanson set up freshman forward Ty Amonte’s first collegiate goal with a great pass to the right face-off circle, where Amonte was waiting.
During the Terriers’ first power play of the night, junior forward Bobo Carpenter continued his success from last weekend and buried a goal past the Pioneers’ senior goaltender Tanner Jaillet to knot the game at 2-2.
“Bobo’s a great player,” Quinn said. “He’s a junior. He’s grown an awful lot on and off the ice. He’s a guy that acts like a pro already so I know he was snakebitten early and it was nice to see him get rewarded last weekend. It was certainly nice to see him get on the scoreboard.”
However, Denver was not finished and Staub got his second power-play goal of the night at 18:32.
While the following period remained uneventful scoring-wise, Oettinger was the key player of the period.
Terry pushed past sophomore defenseman Chad Krys to get the puck in the goal early in the second, but the goal was eventually dismissed due to Terry being in the crease.
On the Terriers’ fourth penalty kill of the night, Oettinger kept the game at 3-2.
The Pioneers were able to get 10 shots with BU’s goaltender making four saves. Most notably, Oettinger scooped out a puck that almost went into the back of the net and denied Denver freshman defenseman Ian Mitchell, whose shot hit the right post.
Senior defenseman and captain Brandon Hickey said he told his team to continue building off of their performance going into the third period.
“Late in the second period, I thought we started bringing on a little bit more,” Hickey said. “They obviously had a few power plays in the second period that kind of pushed us back on our heels a little bit, but we responded really well to that so I think the main theme was go out there and continue to play the game that we were building off of and then we had a good start to the third period.”
In the final frame of the game, the Terriers were unable to capitalize on their lone power play opportunity. After countless opportunities with Jaillet coming up with save after save, sophomore defenseman Dante Fabbro finally broke through.
Junior forward Ryan Cloonan got the puck from freshman forward Brady Tkachuk and came around the Pioneers’ net to feed it to Fabbro who hesitated for a second before sending a wrister into the net.
More than halfway through the third, BU pulled ahead in shots and ended the night with a 29-26 shot advantage.
As the matchup appeared to wind down to an overtime period, Terry made his efforts count and the puck bounced into the net off the pipe with 16.1 seconds remaining.
“There’s a reason they’re the number one team in the country,” Quinn said. “There’s a reason they’re the defending national champions. It was an entertaining game, but I didn’t come here to get entertained, I came here to win a hockey game and unfortunately we weren’t able to do it.”