By Kevin Dillon/DFP Staff
The Agganis Arena ice seemed to be tilted in No. 14/15 University of North Dakota’s favor Saturday night, as it outhit and outshot the Boston University men’s hockey team. BU sophomore goaltender Matt O’Connor did his part to even things out though, making a career-high 55 saves while helping the Terriers to a 3-3 tie.
“I thought North Dakota was the better team tonight,” said BU coach David Quinn. “I thought they were more physical, they won more battles, they were faster. Obviously our goalie stood tall and gave us a chance. I’ll take it.”
It was a physical contest early on with several extra scrums between the teams after the whistles and some huge hits. One of the biggest collisions came between two of the most talented players on the ice, as UND sophomore Rocco Grimaldi leaned his leg out and collided full-speed with BU sophomore center Danny O’Regan. Both players were left shaken up on the ice, and Grimaldi was sent to the box for a tripping penalty that gave BU a 4-on-3 advantage.
The Terriers took advantage of that power play, when senior captain Garrett Noonan faked a shot to draw North Dakota goaltender Zane Gothberg to his knees and then snapped the puck through a screen into the top right corner of the net. It was Noonan’s third goal of the season, which is the most among BU’s defensemen.
North Dakota needed less than two minutes to respond though, as winger Bryn Chyzyk snapped a wrist shot from BU goaltender Matt O’Connor’s left through traffic and into the back of the net for his second goal of the season. The game was tied, but UND had the momentum and the majority of the puck possession through the first period.
The game remained tied until almost seven minutes into the second, when O’Regan slipped a pass through a defender’s legs and onto freshman winger Nick Roberto’s stick. Roberto blasted a one-timer over Gothberg’s right shoulder and into the back of the net for his fourth goal of the season, and once again appeared to give BU some life. It was the Wakefield native’s third consecutive game with a point since moving from center to wing, and he has recorded a point in six of his last seven games.
“Definitely the new line changes, I like a lot,” Roberto said. “I like the wing more than center. I feel more comfortable on that side.”
Again though, North Dakota responded quickly thanks to its dominance of puck possession. North Dakota junior Stephane Pattyn, who had already made his mark on the game with several big hits and extra jabs in the game, finished off a pass from linemate Michael Parksin close to O’Connor for his second goal of the season. The goal left UND tied with the Terriers through the first two periods in spite of its 30-13 shot advantage.
With senior winger Jake Moscatel in the penalty box for charging in the third period, North Dakota finally jumped out to its first lead of the game. Junior Brendan O’Donnell faked a shot before firing the puck over to wide-open freshman Adam Tambellini, who had no trouble giving UND the 3-2 lead.
It was the Terriers who responded this time though. Junior forward Evan Rodrigues tried to pass the puck across the slot on the rush, but the puck bounced off a North Dakota defender and over to freshman center Robbie Baillargeon, who touched the puck into the back of the net to tie the score. Freshman defenseman Dalton MacAfee was credited with the secondary assist on the play, which was good for his first collegiate point, and the game was tied at three.
Each team had a couple of good scoring chances on the rush in overtime, but neither could break the tie. BU was outshot 58-31 in the contest, which is the worst shot differential it has had this season. The minus-27 margin even beat out the minus-25 shot margin it had in its 2-1 loss at the University of Michigan.
Part of the reason for the dismal shot margin was the amount of Terrier shots that missed the net. BU missed 24 of the 66 shots it attempted throughout the contest, which was something Quinn singled out as a big problem.
“It’s a youth hockey mentality,” Quinn said. “It’s just, ‘I’m just going to pick top corner, bar and in.’ If you’re doing that, you wouldn’t be in this league.
“We have just got to do a better job of understanding and taking the opportunities that are given to us and understanding the value of getting a puck on the net.”