By Arielle Aronson/DFP Staff
TROY, NY – Boston University was not pleased with how chippy its game against Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute became on Saturday afternoon, yet when a team plays on special teams the way BU did on Saturday, it would be foolish for an opponent not to play rough hockey. After all, BU again failed to make its opponent pay for their penalties.
The Terriers were ineffective on the penalty kill and even less effective on the power play. BU went 0-for-5 on the man-advantage, gave up a shorthanded goal, and allowed RPI to score three power-play goals. Those numbers continued an alarming trend for the Terriers, who have now allowed three shorthanded goals in their last four games and allowed eight power-play goals for their opponents in the last five games.
When BU coach Jack Parker was asked what the team could improve on after the break aside from the power play, he merely laughed and then repeated “power play, power play, power play.”
The special teams night started on a sour note. At 3:17 in the first period, Engineers’ Joel Malchuk went to the box for tripping sophomore forward Justin Courtnall. RPI began their penalty kill by quickly clearing the puck out twice, and then it got a little help when BU turned the puck over in its defensive zone.
At 4:53, BU went on a 5-on-3 for 25 seconds when Guy Leboeuf joined Malchuk in the box on another tripping call. BU could not capitalize, but had another chance to score when RPI goaltender Allen York dropped his stick shortly after Malchuk’s penalty expired. The Terriers lost possession of the puck instead of getting a shot on the stick-less York.
That would not be the worst power play for BU on Saturday. A little more than halfway through the first period, RPI’s Pat Koudys was whistled off for interference. BU failed to get a shot on net for the first minute of the power play, as they simply passed around the perimeter and then lost possession of the puck. Engineer C.J. Lee walked into the BU zone unchallenged by the BU defense and dropped a pass for Malchuk, who blistered a shot past junior netminder Grant Rollheiser.
The Terriers’ only shot of the power play came with 14 seconds of the advantage remaining. That trend continued all night, as the Terriers managed only four shots on five power plays.
BU did not fare much better in killing off penalties. RPI had three more power plays than the Terriers, but tripled the amount of shots on goal. They scored a power-play goal in each period and made the BU penalty kill, which only four weeks ago was the number one penalty kill in the nation, look quite porous.
“I think the PK was great for the longest time, but we’re struggling a little bit now,” senior captain Joe Pereira said. “Just two bad rotations and they scored two goals, which really set us back.”
BU’s lack of self-control in the third period set the Terriers back as well. The Terriers earned 55 minutes of penalties in the third period alone, 12 minutes of which belonged to Parker. Three Terriers were ejected in the period, including junior assistant captain David Warsofsky, and RPI enjoyed four power plays.
According to the Terriers, the chippy play was simply a matter of sticking up for their teammates. The game was physical all evening, and a violent hit-from-behind from Lee on sophomore defenseman Sean Escobedo seemed to send BU overboard. With Escobedo doubled over in front of the BU bench, Parker shouted at the referees loud enough for his voice to carry across the entire arena.
In the less than two minutes that followed, the Terriers got revenge with a series of punches and tackles.
“You mess with one of us, you’re going to mess with the whole team,” Pereira said.
Sophomore forward Alex Chiasson was the first to go. After being brought down to the ice in a stranglehold by Lee, Chiasson tore away and then attempted to punch Lee but hit the referee instead. Warsofsky followed Chiasson to the locker room 1:04 later, slamming his stick in frustration against a bench on his way out.
Freshman defenseman Garrett Noonan, after getting caught in a melee with only 16 seconds left in the game, was the last Terrier kicked out of the game. Parker had a few words for the referees at the end of the game and earned a game misconduct for his input.
“Glad to see our guys stick up for each other,” Parker said. “They realized what was happening to them and you couldn’t not get frustrated with them. I should not because I’m older than those guys, but it’s hard not to get frustrated when you’re getting a bad deal.”