The Boston University men’s hockey team entered Saturday night’s series finale against Boston College with a surplus of momentum. However, the team was unable to capture the series sweep, falling at the hands of the Eagles (9-6-2, 9-2-0 Hockey East) 4-1.
“Obviously a disappointing result,” BU (7-9-1, 5-5-1 Hockey East) head coach David Quinn said. “There’s such a fine line between winning and losing at this level and we have not crossed that line consistently enough.”
BC was led by a monstrous performance from sophomore goaltender Joseph Woll, who made a combined 29 saves in the final two periods en route to a 36-stop outing. The squad received points from nine different players with sophomore forward David Cotton leading the charge with a goal and assist of his own.
For the Terriers, the loss was a microcosm of much of their season thus far. The team ripped 37 shots on goal to BC’s 27, but had little to show for it. Sophomore goaltender Jake Oettinger made 23 saves on 26 opportunities, but his effort was not enough to keep BU afloat.
The Eagles jumped on the board in the latter part of the first period. After garnering an odd-man advantage in the Terriers zone, junior forward Christopher Brown found classmate JD Dudek sliding down the left side of the ice. He forwarded a pass Dudek’s way, and the junior executed a touch pass across Oettinger which landed on the stick of sophomore defenseman Connor Moore.
All Moore had to do was touch the puck for his second goal of the season, giving the Eagles the 1-0 lead.
Just moments later, BC struck again. After BU freshman forward Brady Tkachuk and BC freshman Aapeli Rasanen went to the box to create a four-on-four scenario for the two squads, Eagles sophomore David Cotton took advantage of the extra ice space. He stole a puck from BU sophomore defenseman Chad Krys in between the blue lines, and took off towards Oettinger with nobody to beat.
Oettinger saved Cotton’s first rip, but he was able to finish the rebound chance for his third goal of the year, giving BC a 2-0 lead.
“Two costly mistakes early,” Quinn said. “It’s tough to dig yourself out of that hole when you have the first-place team in here with a goalie like that.”
As the Terriers have become accustomed to doing this season, they began to chip away at their opponent’s lead. Almost halfway through the second period, freshman defenseman Kasper Kotkansalo ripped a shot from the blue line towards Woll. Bowers was able to get his stick out in front of the sailing puck and managed to tip it past Woll for his eighth score of the season.
The Eagles doubled their lead with 4:50 in the second period, however. Driving with space down the left side of the Terriers zone, freshman forward Casey Carreau dropped a pass for sophomore forward Ron Greco in the slot. Greco fired away top side, and the puck steered away from Oettinger’s glove and into the top right corner of the net to give BC a 3-1 lead.
“The third one was a backbreaker,” Quinn said. “That was a tough one to overcome.”
BU came out guns blazing in the beginning of the third period. The team outshot the Eagles 10-1 over the first 13 minutes of the period, but were unable to connect.
“We try to have a never-say-die attitude in the locker room no matter what the score is,” Terrier’s forward and assistant captain Nikolas Olsson said. “We have had experience being down by a couple goals, unfortunately. We have been there before.”
The Terriers had a few lucrative chances during this stretch. With just under eight minutes remaining in the period, junior forward Ryan Cloonan found senior forward Chase Phelps directly in front of Woll on a dime of a feed. Phelps had some traffic in front of the net, but all his shot was able to find was the right pad of Woll.
With just over three minutes remaining in the game, Eagles junior defenseman Michael Kim went to the penalty box on a holding call. Quinn elected to pull Oettinger from the goal, and the Terriers received a two-minute 6-on-4 opportunity.
Juicy chances arose for the Terriers, as junior forward Jordan Greenway nearly found classmate Bobo Carpenter on the right side of Woll while Krys almost garnered a goal on a rip from the blue line.
The team was unable to capitalize, however, and BC sophomore forward Graham McPhee put the nail in the coffin with an empty-netter with 29 seconds remaining.
“A split is something that we talked about this morning,” BC head coach Jerry York said. “We got a good start and we stayed with that. They couldn’t dent [Woll], he was outstanding.”
CORRECTION: a previous version had several minor errors such as the records of both teams missing and Jordan Greenway’s position was incorrect, it has since been updated.