By Scott McLaughlin/DFP Staff
The Boston University men’s hockey team has made a habit of letting off the gas when it gets a lead. This month alone, they blew a shutout bid with 1:34 left in a win over UMass-Lowell, completely self-destructed after taking a late lead in a 5-4 loss to Harvard, and then saw another shutout bid fall by the wayside on a late goal in last Friday’s 2-1 win over Providence.
On paper, blowing a three-goal third-period lead in Friday night’s 3-3 tie against Vermont looks worse than all of those. But BU coach Jack Parker, always one to keep the media on their toes with his postgame press conferences, didn’t see it that way.
“No, not at all,” Parker said when asked if this was similar to his team putting it in cruise control in those other games. “I told them in the dressing room that I thought we played pretty hard. It wasn’t like we just wanted to get out of there and all of a sudden we lost the game.”
Instead, Parker said Friday’s collapse had more to do with a few costly mistakes than letting up or not trying hard enough.
“We made three huge mistakes that gave them three goals,” Parker said. “I think they had two grade-A shots the entire third period. They scored on both of them. We had a horrible non-backcheck on [Lance] Herrington’s goal, the tying goal.
“A bad play on the 4-on-4 play by a defenseman stepping up [on the first goal] and then a bad play by a wing leaving a defenseman all alone when he should’ve been all over him from the get-go [on the second goal].”
Parker said that outside of those errors, he thought everyone on his team gave a solid effort for most of the game.
“Without those mistakes, even during the last 13 minutes of the third period, I thought we played pretty well,” Parker said. “We got a bunch of good opportunities, a bunch of good grade-A’s.”
The third-period shot chart is evidence of that. As Parker mentioned, Vermont had just two grade-A chances in the third. The Terriers, on the other hand, had eight, something that cannot be said for the UMass-Lowell, Harvard and Providence games.
Senior co-captain Joe Pereira said he agreed with Parker that the team didn’t really play any differently in the third and that the three goals were the results of mistakes rather than a lack of effort. But at the same time, Pereira said that doesn’t make it any easier to swallow.
“At the end of the day, we can’t make excuses,” Pereira said. “We tied a game we should’ve won. That hurts.”
Earlier in the year, some of BU’s inconsistent play, especially late in games, was chalked up to the team being young and inexperienced. Pereira said that isn’t a valid excuse any more.
“I don’t even think it’s that we’re young,” Pereira said. “We’ve grown up. Those freshmen, they can’t be freshmen any more. They’ve played a lot of hockey for us and they’ve played in a lot of big situations. It’s just that we’ve got to have that mentality that we can’t lose.”
Parker and Pereira both said that all the Terriers can do now is pick themselves up and focus on Saturday’s rematch with the Catamounts and getting a much-needed win.
“As I said, I’m not aggravated with my team tonight,” Parker said. “I hope they don’t get down. They’ve got to get even. They’ve got to come back and play better tomorrow.”