In a visit to a sold-out Mullins Center in Amherst, the Boston University men’s hockey team fell 2-4 to No. 2 University of Massachusetts Friday night.
“I thought we competed hard,” BU head coach Albie O’Connell said. “That’s a good hockey team over there.”
After a 7-5 thriller that went UMass’ way in the two Hockey East sides’ first matchup on the first of the month, the Terriers (10-13-3, 8-7-2 Hockey East) were looking to avenge their loss a week later.
“We played them pretty tight in our building,” O’Connell said on the teams’ first meeting.
Senior captain Bobo Carpenter was unavailable for the fourth consecutive game due to injury, but his junior co-captain Dante Fabbro wasted no time in picking up the production for the Terriers’ injured leading goal scorer.
On the game’s first power play seven minutes in, sophomore forward Ty Amonte moved along an initial pass from freshman forward Joel Farabee. The puck came to Fabbro, who pounded it in for the junior defenseman’s sixth of the season — providing BU with the opening goal for the first time in eight games.
With BU holding the 1-0 lead after 20 minutes, the Minutemen (21-5, 13-3 Hockey East) were struggling to gain traction and challenge the Terrier defense as they had a week prior. Looking to spark his team just ahead of the period’s halfway point, UMass head coach Greg Carvel called a timeout, which proved to make all the difference for his Minutemen.
A mere 30 seconds after the timeout, UMass found their equalizer. Fresh off a three-point performance against BU last Friday, forward John Leonard stickhandled his way to shooting position between the dots and fired one in to level the game. The assist would go to defenseman Marc Del Gaizo.
“They got a lot of momentum,” O’Connell said about Leonard’s tally. “The crowd was really into it.”
Turning the tides quickly, the Minutemen would come up with a second goal less than two minutes after their first. Starting behind his own net, defenseman Cale Makar bolted the length of the ice and fed forward Jack Suter for the easy finish to put UMass up 2-1.
“[Makar] blew by our entire team,” O’Connell said. “You [have to] tip your hat to that kid.”
The Minutemen’s lead would double at the 4:53 mark, as defenseman Jake McLaughlin knocked in a rebound to make the UMass advantage 3-1. Terrier junior netminder Jake Oettinger made the initial save on the one-timer by Suter after forward Brett Boeing’s cross-ice pass, but there was nothing the junior keeper could do about McLaughlin’s close-range tap-in.
Going into the second intermission, the Minutemen would hold a 30-12 advantage in shots on goal. BU hit four shots at UMass goaltender Philip Lindberg in the second period — a total quadrupled by the Minutemen in the frame, who tested Oettinger with 16.
“That ended up costing us the game,” O’Connell said regarding the lopsided second period.
Despite two early third-period power plays for the Terriers, it would be UMass who converted on their first man-advantage of the game with eight minutes left in regulation. After Leonard and forward Jacob Pritchard hacked away in front, Del Gaizo punched it in to tally his second point of the game and made the Minutemen’s lead three.
With less than a minute to play, sophomore forward Shane Bowers would score an individual goal on the penalty kill for BU. The forward stormed into the UMass end and unleashed a laser past Lindberg to cut the lead to two. It was the 10th goal of Bowers’ season, becoming the third Terrier to reach the double-digit mark in 2018-19.
Bowers’ lone effort would be too little too late for the Terriers, however, and the game would finish 4-2 in favor of the hosts. It marked the fourth consecutive loss for the Terriers, albeit against four opponents ranked in college hockey’s top 20 teams — Arizona State University, Northeastern University and UMass, twice.
This month’s sweep marked the first time that UMass came away with two wins over the Terriers in Hockey East play.
“Our goal this year was to bring respect to this program,” UMass coach Carvel said. “It’s a special group.”
With a short break before their next game, BU will turn their attention to Harvard ahead of their battle for third place in the Beanpot Monday, aiming to snap their losing streak ahead of seven Hockey East contests to close out the regular season.
“I think if we compete well, we’ll be fine,” O’Connell said about his team going forward.
The Beanpot fixture with Harvard will be played at 4:30 p.m. at TD Garden, before BU set their sights on a weekend home-and-home series with the University of Connecticut next weekend.