BU tops UNH 2-1, sweeps season series

By Tim Healey/DFP Staff

DURHAM, N.H. – Just as the No. 11/12 Boston University men’s hockey team readies to finish off the fall semester, it finished off the University of New Hampshire tonight at the Whittemore Center by a score of 2-1, sweeping the three-game season series.

UNH (6-9-2, 4-7-1 Hockey East) got things started quickly, with forward Greg Burke netting his third goal of the year at 4:32 in the first. The play started in the BU (9-5-1, 7-4-1 Hockey East) offensive zone, when UNH intercepted the puck on a centering pass from sophomore forward Charlie Coyle and brought to the other end. Senior goaltender Kieran Millan stopped the initial shot, but had no chance when Burke roofed the rebound right after.

Despite the goal, BU’s play got better as the period went on. The Terriers ended the period with an 11-9 advantage in shots on goal, and successfully killed off a too-many-men-on-the-ice penalty halfway through the frame.

BU picked its game up in the second, tying things up at one apiece just 4:54 into the period on a goal from junior forward Wade Megan. He charged into the BU offensive end with junior assistant captain Alex Chiasson, whose shot was denied by UNH goaltender Casey DeSmith. Megan was there, though, to hammer home the rebound for his third goal in three games against the Wildcats.

But the goal may not have been as important as the play before it. With UNH pressuring, freshman defenseman Alexx Privitera – playing in just the eighth game of his career – got on his stomach to prevent a pass and force a turnover, leading to Megan and Chiasson’s 2-on-1 opportunity.

That play was just one aspect of an overall impressive game for the rookie who has forced his way into the lineup in recent weeks.

“This game might be one of the key turning points to his settling in and being a real important player for us,” said coach Jack Parker. “We recruited him to be an important player, he was struggling on the defensive end a little bit, he was in and out of the lineup and he was getting really frustrated. Even when he was in the lineup he wasn’t getting ice time on the power play.

“[The improvement is] obvious to us, I said to him right after the game, I went to his stall and said, ‘Hey, welcome aboard. You’ve arrived.’”

Minutes after Privitera’s play and Megan’s goal, senior forward Corey Trivino put his team up 2-1 at 7:51. Privitera took a shot that was wide left, and it bounced back out to bounce off of senior captain Chris Connolly’s stick, right to sophomore forward Sahir Gill. Gill quickly shoved it to the right to Trivino for the easy goal with DeSmith on the opposite side of the net. It was the 100th point of the captain’s career.

“It’s a strange play really,” Connolly said. “[Privitera] threw it towards the net and hit the side there. It came off the wall there and I tried to grab it and it just deflected right off my stick. It just happened to go right to Gill and Gill made the nice play to get the goalie out of the net. Corey had a wide-open net, so I really didn’t do anything.

“But I guess I’ll take it.”

The third period was much like the first one, but minus the UNH goal, meaning the Trivino goal – his team-high 11th of the season – ended up being the difference maker.

The Terriers killed off another penalty in the third – sophomore defenseman Garrett Noonan for tripping – making their penalty kill a perfect 5-for-5 on the night while allowing just six shots on net.

It’s the most recent accomplishment of an overall impressive effort on special teams of late for the Terriers.

“If you looked at the first three or four games on our special teams, it was like you should take the coach out back and give him a beating in front of his own family,” Parker said. “Now we look like we know what we’re doing as far as killing penalties; we look like we know what we’re doing on the power play. And we’re benefiting from it, especially the PK.”

Parker also attributed much of the penalty kill success to Millan, who broke the 3,000-save barrier tonight.

“Kieran Millan is one of the greatest goalies ever to play here,” Parker said. “He’s a terrific goaltender, he’s had a good career here, we hope he continues to mount some records.”

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