By Tim Healey/DFP Staff
The No. 13/15 Boston University men’s hockey team made history Friday night Agganis Arena: For the first time since they started playing on campus in 1971, the team has endured a five-game home winless streak thanks to dropping a 3-0 decision to the University of Massachusetts-Lowell.
It was another step backward for the Terriers (14-13-2, 11-8-2 Hockey East) after they seemed to be trending upward thanks to taking three of four points from Maine last weekend.
It was a widely unspectacular game, but here’s a look at what went right and what went wrong for BU against the visiting River Hawks (17-9-2, 11-8-2 Hockey East).
Yes, the Terriers gave up a power-play goal at the 14:55 mark in the third, but on the night BU killed five of Lowell’s six penalties — mostly in an impressive fashion — and allowed only five shots.
Lowell’s lone goal on the man-advantage came with nine seconds left on forward Sam Kurker’s tripping penalty — the latest in the freshman’s rash of minors in recent weeks — when the puck ended up trickling through freshman goalie Matt O’Connor’s legs.
BU coach Jack Parker was pleased with penalty kill overall, but harped on a pair of apparent missed calls, one of which lead to that power-play goal.
Freshman defenseman Matt Grzelcyk was battling for the puck behind BU’s net when a River Hawk knocked his stick out of his hands. Grzelcyk looked confused, as if he wanted a whistle, before trying to kick the puck out of the zone.
Parker was furious when Lowell scored seconds later.
“I believe it’s a penalty if you slash a guys stick out of his hands,” Parker, calmer after the game, said. “The guy slashed his stick out of his hands right in front of the referee and [Lowell] got the puck on through to net. We were playing three and a half because he [Grzelcyk] didn’t have a stick and like I say, I’m pretty sure that if you slash somebodies stick it’s a penalty.”
Effort has been a buzzword for Parker all semester, and Friday night the team continued to do well in that department, according to the coach.
“[The loss] wasn’t for our lack of effort,” Parker said. “We were pretty alert. We were pretty intense we were pretty emotional. This was not a blah game for us. We just couldn’t beat a team that was playing very well tonight.
Lowell’s first goal UML opened up the scoring at 5:35 in the second after a lengthy possession in BU’s zone. With defensemen Garrett Noonan and Grzelcyk exhausted and BU’s top line looking for a change, they got just a little too eager.
“Just a bad change,” Parker said. “We never should have changed when the puck is at our blue line. One guy came off early, another guy started to come off, try to go back down on again. But either way [Scott Wilson] really ripped it. That was a rocket.”
Terrier power play
BU came into the came having converted on 10 of their last 44 power-play opportunities, but went 0-for-3 with just four shots Friday night.
Much of that could be credited to Lowell — taking just three penalties to begin with was a sign of Lowell’s discipline, a factor coach Norm Bazin commented on after the game — but when the Terriers did get a chance they rarely set up in Lowell’s zone.
BU is 0-4-1 in its last five home games and has lost the first two regular-season games to the River Hawks, both at Agganis Arena.
Parker said the crowd, which was unusually quiet Friday, had nothing to do with it.
“The fans were here. They would have energized us if we energized them,” Parker said. “We didn’t get a goal. We’re down 2-0, but we could have been winning eight in a row and if you’re down 2-0 and you’re not doing anything, creating enough offense, it doesn’t energize. So I don’t think it’s the fans’ fault at all. We had a nice crowd, but we didn’t give them enough to cheer about.”
With this loss the Terriers drop into a tie with Lowell for fifth in the Hockey East standings.
The top four teams get to host the Hockey East quarterfinals, but at this point, the Terriers might be wondering whether or not they want to play at Jack Parker Rink.