By Meredith Perri/DFP Staff
For close to five minutes during the second period Saturday evening, the No. 15 Boston University men’s hockey team let its guard down. With a one-goal lead and a man-advantage after a major penalty, the Terriers had five minutes to extend their lead over the No. 2 University of Wisconsin.
“We had nothing going,” said BU coach David Quinn. “It was really frustrating standing there watching that … You think you have a lot of time, and you lose your intensity level.”
With 19 seconds left on the power play, however, BU (3-1-0) broke through as sophomore defenseman Matt Grzelcyk took a shot from the right circle that Badger (2-2-0) netminder Landon Peterson could not handle.
The goal marked a turning point during Saturday’s game at Agganis Arena, as it sparked an offensive surge in the second half of what had been a close contest. By the time the final horn sounded, the Terriers had overcome Wisconsin by a final score of 7-3.
After struggling in the first 10 minutes of the game Friday evening, the Terriers came out strongly against Wisconsin on Saturday, taking a 1-0 lead about halfway through the first. Just six seconds into the Terriers’ first power-play opportunity of the night, sophomore defensemen Ahti Oksanen registered his first goal of the season after he picked up a pass from senior captain Garrett Noonan and ripped it by Peterson from the top of the left circle.
BU’s early lead did not make it out of the first period, however, as Wisconsin also found the back of the net while on the power play in the waning minutes of the frame. With Grzelcyk in the box for holding, Badger junior Jake McCabe evened the score with his second goal of the season.
Grzelcyk’s time in the penalty box was the last of three penalties in the first period, and, according to Quinn, the series of penalties tilted the ice in favor of Wisconsin for the second half of the frame.
“I thought the first 10 minutes were the best hockey we played all year,” Quinn said. “Then all of a sudden, we take three penalties in a 10-minute stretch, and it really changed the momentum of the game. I thought they really took it to us.”
Neither team found the back of the net again until a 39-second flurry halfway through the second period when both BU and Wisconsin combined for three goals.
Noonan kicked off the spree with a slap shot from the point after picking up a pass from Oksanen to break up the 1-1 stalemate. BU then picked up another goal 18 seconds later when wing Robbie Baillargeon tipped in a shot from Grzelcyk for the freshman’s first goal of his collegiate career.
Not to be outdone, Wisconsin center Keegan Meuer cut the Terriers’ lead to 3-2 just 16 seconds after the Baillargeon goal.
The Terriers regained the lead, however, after Wisconsin center Nic Kerdiles received a game misconduct and a major penalty for contact to the head after hitting freshman forward Tommy Kelley into the boards. After briefly coming back on the ice later in the period, Kelley left the game at the end of the frame with a head injury.
This power-play opportunity led to the goal by Grzelcyk that changed the complexion of the game.
With the momentum back on their side, the Terriers broke the game open in the third with a three-goal period. The frame started off with a tally by sophomore winger Mike Moran, who picked up a pass from senior captain Patrick MacGregor off of the boards and slipped it by Peterson to put BU up 5-2.
The Badgers inched their way back into the contest exactly seven minutes later with their second power-play goal of the night on a shot by wing Michael Mersch, but BU pounced for two more goals in the next three minutes to take a 7-3 lead.
Sophomore forward Matt Lane picked up his first goal of the season when he snapped a shot from the far side by Peterson. Just more than two minutes later, junior center Cason Hohmann scored BU’s final goal of the game as he bounced a pass from behind the net off of a Wisconsin player’s stick with the Terriers on the power play.
According to sophomore goaltender Matt O’Connor, who picked up 39 saves and his second win of the season in the contest, the Terriers came into the game focused on themselves and not Wisconsin’s 9-3 struggle against Boston College Friday evening.
“Quinn was quick to address that we have to focus on ourselves, and, realistically, we were kind of frustrated coming off of our loss [Friday to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute],” O’Connor said. “We weren’t really focused on what happened with them and their game earlier. We were really hungry for two points here, and we really showed a lot of will to win right up to the last minute, got some lucky bounces and really moved the puck well.”