Almost two weeks after its regular season finale, the No. 20 Boston University men’s hockey team returned to action for the first game of its best-of-three Hockey East quarterfinals matchup against the University of Connecticut.
The Terriers (18-13-4, 12-8-4 Hockey East) split the 2017-18 regular season series with the Huskies (15-18-2, 11-12-1 Hockey East) 1-1-1.
However, it was BU who emerged victorious in game one of the playoffs Friday night. Junior forward and assistant captain Bobo Carpenter found the back of the net 5:02 into overtime for the Terriers’ 5-4 win at Agganis Arena.
Having home ice in the Hockey East tournament is something that BU has grown accustomed to having. The Terriers have hosted at least one game in the tournament in 28 out of 34 seasons since the league’s inception in 1984, which includes their most recent span of 13 of the last 14.
“I think the fans got treated to a pretty good hockey game there,” UConn head coach Mike Cavanaugh said. “I thought it was a great hockey game [with] two even teams, playing a playoff game [and it] went to overtime.”
Although, it was the Huskies who drew first blood.
Junior forward Max Kalter passed the puck to freshman forward Brian Rigali who took a shot that BU sophomore goaltender Jake Oettinger thwarted off. Kalter found the rebound and gave the Huskies a 1-0 lead four minutes and 34 second into the opening stanza.
“I was surprised by our start,” Terrier head coach David Quinn said. “A lot of that had to do with how and how well UConn was playing. They played at a pace, they were physical [and] there was no bs in their game. They played a playoff style of hockey and I don’t know if we were ready for it.”
But the lead did not last long.
Just 18 seconds later, junior forward and assistant capitan Jordan Greenway lit the lamp after receiving a pass from graduate transfer forward Drew Melanson and beat UConn sophomore goaltender Adam Huska to knot the contest.
The Terriers were not satisfied and struck again just under three minutes later.
Sophomore defenseman Chad Krys fired a shot, which Huksa denied, but Melanson cleaned up the rebound to give BU a 2-1 lead.
Despite taking a one-goal lead into the first intermission, the Terriers were outshot by the Huskies 11-8 in the opening period.
Junior forward Karl El-Mir cleaned up a rebound from senior defenseman Derek Pratt and tied the game at two one minute and 31 seconds into the second period.
The Huskies grabbed a 3-2 lead after junior forward Maxim Letunov finished a rebound from Pratt by way of senior defenseman Johnny Austin at 14:31.
However, the Terriers struck early in the third frame.
On its fourth power play chance of the evening, BU finally converted an opportunity with the man advantage as senior forward Jesse Schwartz found himself in the box at 1:23 into the third period.
Sophomore defenseman Dante Fabbro rifled a shot that was deflected by Greenway for his second goal of the night to tie the game at three 39 seconds into the power play.
“The great news is we responded every time they scored, which is a good sign,” Quinn said. “We knew the opponent we were going to face [and] we knew how hard it was going to be. They’ve been the hottest team in the league.”
The Huskies continued the back-and-forth matchup and retaliated just under 12 minutes later.
While on a power play, UConn sophomore forward Benjamin Freeman took advantage of a BU line change and fired a shot from the slot to give the Huskies a 4-3 lead with 5:03 remaining in regulation.
Krys kept the Terriers alive as he intercepted a pass in UConn’s zone and dished the puck past Huska to send the game into overtime.
Carpenter scored on a wrap-around goal 5:02 into the extra period with freshmen forwards Logan Cockerill and Shane Bowers grabbing the assists.
“I honestly have no idea how it snuck in,” Carpenter said. “I just wanted to get it to the net. We really have focused the past two weeks on getting pucks to the net and causing those rebounds, and I was fortunate enough that it found a way in.”
The Huskies and the Terriers will meet in game two Saturday night with BU looking to punch its ticket to TD Garden for the Hockey East semifinals.
“This is a hard league, college hockey is hard,” Quinn said. “If anybody thinks just because you’re a higher seed that you’re going to blow somebody out than people haven’t been paying attention to college hockey. This is hard. They’re good and we’re going to have to be really good tomorrow night if we’re going to have a chance to win.”