By Annie Maroon/DFP Staff
The No. 2 Boston University men’s hockey team couldn’t pull out the season series win against the University of Maine on Saturday, losing 3-1. Here’s a look at what went right and what went wrong for the Terriers:
BU held Maine’s power play, scoring at a 29.3 percent rate, to just a 1-for-8 showing and 10 shots on those eight opportunities on Saturday. The Black Bears’ only power-play goal was actually an empty-netter with five seconds remaining in the game, with sophomore defenseman Adam Clendening in the box for a slash.
Although the Terriers took four penalties in the first period, limiting their offensive chances considerably, they held off the Black Bears on each of those. Even as the game wore on and the pressure on BU’s five defensemen increased, they killed off a slashing penalty to junior forward Wade Megan late in the third to keep themselves in what was then a 2-1 game.
On five power-play opportunities, BU generated 15 shots. The Terrier defensemen in particular weren’t afraid to throw the puck toward the net, and sophomore Adam Clendening led that charge, recording five shots on net and several others that were blocked or deflected or missed the goal.
While they had problems throughout the game with the quality of their shots, struggling to get around defenders and shoot the puck cleanly on Maine goalie Dan Sullivan, BU did force Sullivan to make 38 saves to earn the victory.
After a slow start, the Terriers were much more energetic in the second period, outshooting Maine 19-6 in that frame. They drew penalties and got a power-play goal from sophomore defenseman Garrett Noonan, his ninth of the year, on a deflection on a shot by Clendening. Although Maine scored a few minutes later to retake the lead, BU looked much more like a focused, conference-leading team in the second period than it had in the first.
“If I thought last night’s game was somewhat boring, I thought tonight’s game was much more interesting to watch,” BU coach Jack Parker said. “Much more intensity out there by both teams.”
Although the Maine power play didn’t make them pay nearly as much as it could have, the Terriers took 11 penalties and made it difficult for themselves to generate much offense. While some of the later calls were questionable, they still didn’t stay as disciplined as they would have needed to be to beat a team like Maine.
“We buried ourselves a little bit in the first period by going to the box too much, and I think the message of playing harder and being more physical got the guys a little jumpy in the first period,” BU senior captain Chris Connolly said. “We were taking some unnecessary penalties, which ultimately delayed the start we wanted.”
Maine didn’t make it easy for BU to get a look at Sullivan, as they blocked 20 of the 74 shots BU attempted (another 15 missed the net). But too often when the Terriers did have a chance to shoot, they held onto the puck for an extra second or two, seemingly looking for an even better opportunity and rarely finding one.
On a power play late in the third period, junior forward Alex Chiasson called for the puck several times and got a shot off each time he received a pass, but multiple times, his shots were blocked or deflected wide by Maine defenders before they got near Sullivan. Chiasson was by no means the only player to delay taking a shot so long that the Black Bear defenders had ample time to get down on the ice and block it, though.
“They did a really good job of piling up in front,” Connolly said. “I think that was the key to them really winning the game. We had some good first opportunities and they did a very good job of boxing our guys out. We couldn’t get any rebounds. There were plenty of them to be had, and their D and forwards got back and got in lanes and they were blocking pucks and getting guys out of the way.”
Freshman defenseman Alexx Privitera left Friday’s game with what turned out to be a broken wrist, and junior defenseman Max Nicastro also missed Saturday’s game with a shoulder injury sustained the night before. Missing those two, Parker decided to use five defensemen and have junior forward Ben Rosen, who played as a center, available as a sixth in emergencies.
As a result, those five defensemen were understandably worn out by the third period, and at times it seemed that the unorthodox rotation was making it hard for the Terrier defensemen and forwards alike to establish a rhythm. Redshirt freshman Yasin Cissé was dressed and available as a forward on the fourth line, but he did not take a shift.