By Arielle Aronson/DFP Staff
The No. 2 Boston University men’s hockey team saw its five-game winning streak come to an end on Friday night when it lost, 4-2, to No. 20 University of Maine. Here’s a look at what went wrong and some of what went right for the Terriers Friday night.
The Terriers simply did not have their heads in the game on Friday, and it ultimately cost them two points. There seemed to be no zip to the Terriers’ step. They were not hitting as hard as they typically do, not racing to pucks as hard as they had been, and not making sound decisions with and without the puck. On the Black Bears’ first goal, junior defenseman Max Nicastro could have easily ended any Maine bid by chipping the puck past his man, but instead he tried to carry it up the ice, leading to the turnover that ended up in the back of the BU net. The choice to chip or carry seems like a small detail in a game, but it is that type of detail that can determine a game’s outcome.
Maine goaltender Dan Sullivan was strong when the Black Bears needed him to be Friday. He made 28 total saves, which is not a jaw-dropping number, but his poise under pressure was outstanding. Sullivan withstood a burst of shots from close range off the stick of freshman forward Cason Hohmann. Those stops were even more impressive considering sophomore defenseman Garrett Noonan and a few Maine players were piled on top of Sullivan while he worked to keep the puck out of the net.
Sullivan also snagged a breakaway attempt from sophomore defenseman Adam Clendening. He stopped junior forward Wade Megan after Megan picked up a long pass, worked his way to the net, got an initial shot off and then tried to dig away at a rebound. Hohmann, Clendening and Megan’s bids all came when the game was tied (1-1 for Clendening, 2-2 for Hohmann and Megan). A goal in any of those situations easily could have swung the momentum in the game.
BU and Maine entered the game as the two most penalized teams in the nation. They also boast two of the best power plays in the nation, meaning that whoever could stay out of the box best would have a significant advantage. BU took five penalties in the game. Maine took two. Junior assistant captain Justin Courtnall took an especially bad penalty (hitting after the whistle) 5:38 into the first period, just 23 seconds after Maine tied the game, 1-1, on a previous power play.
In his post-game press conference, BU coach Jack Parker was not simply upset with the penalties his team took, but also by the penalties his team failed to make Maine take.
“We only got one power play because we didn’t play hard enough for them to defend us,” Parker said. “I can’t remember the last time we only got one power play in a game. And that has nothing to do with the referee. I thought that we looked pretty good on our power play and then we didn’t get another, and I thought the reason was that they didn’t have to haul us down. We never put that much pressure on them to have them really defend us.”
BU suffered a difficult loss 16:52 into the game when freshman defenseman Alexx Privitera was injured on a hit delivered by Maine senior Will O’Neill. Privitera lay on the ice for an extended amount of time following the hit and did not return in the game. After the game, Parker said Privitera may have broken his wrist on the play, although Privitera was still undergoing testing and nothing was definite at the time. The injury came right as Privitera seemed to finally adjust to the college game. He was a plus-1 in his last five games and collected five points (2 goals, 3 assists) in that span.
In his absence, sophomore defensemen Garrett Noonan, Adam Clendening and, at times, Patrick MacGregor picked up the slack, leaving Noonan and Clendening especially fatigued by the end of the game.
“In some ways, it was good we didn’t have a power play because they were exhausted playing,” Parker said. “They would have played a lot of power play too. And then we had to kill some penalties in the second period that tired us up a little bit.”
The Power Play
While BU certainly hurt its chances by only forcing one power play, it performed well on the man-advantage it did have. The Terriers had a few chances before junior assistant captain Alex Chiasson capitalized with a blast from the mid-slot. The tally was the seventh goal in the last 10 power plays for BU. The Terriers are ranked fifth in the country on the man-advantage, increasing their success rate to 24.6 percent.
BU’s junior assistant captain continued to play well on Friday. Chiasson has 10 points in his last six games and has scored goals in three straight games. Chiasson’s recent offensive surge has helped him become the current leading scorer for the Terriers (9-15-24). More importantly for BU, Chiasson has not taken a penalty since BU’s loss to Notre Dame, when his double-minor for slashing drew Parker’s ire. Although Chiasson, like all of the Terriers, could have showed more energy at times on Friday, his recent offense and more consistent discipline is a positive for BU.
“I think he’s playing pretty well and I think that line is playing pretty well for him,” Parker said. “He got [a goal] on a power play and our power play has been going real well. We need him to continue to score.”
The second period was unfolding smoothly Friday when, right after John Parker’s game-tying goal, some of the lights in Agganis went dark. The teams returned to their locker rooms for a 21-minute wait while the Agganis staff tried to figure out how to get the lights back on. The break seemed to help BU, who put a ton of pressure on Maine for the remaining 11:38 of the period, but strong play by Sullivan kept the game tied.