By Meredith Perri/DFP Sports
The sophomore netminder not only responded with an affirmative, but he also went on to criticize his performance, saying he did not control his rebounds well.
“I didn’t notice that,” Quinn said, “But you know, he is a goalie. He is hard on himself. That’s how he felt.”
As much as O’Connor may have wanted to cover up more shots, the Toronto native turned out another strong performance in net as he stopped 55 chances during the Terriers 3-3 tie with North Dakota at Agganis Arena.
For the first time this season, and the first time since Nov. 30 through Dec. 6 2012, O’Connor started in three straight games for the Terriers. His streak in goal started halfway through BU’s 7-0 loss against the University of Maine on Nov. 15. Before the weekend series against North Dakota, Quinn said that, while sophomore Sean Maguire has played well this season, he felt that O’Connor had played well enough to deserve the start on Friday.
Although the Saturday spot was to be determined, O’Connor made a convincing argument in the first half of the series as he held North Dakota scoreless until the final three minutes of the game.
Saturday’s game, however, started out far differently from the previous night as North Dakota came out with more physical play. Within the first few minutes of the game UND wing Stephane Pattyn charged the net, pushing O’Connor into the crossbar. While the netminder said he felt the hit, he continued to protect his crease – something he said he was working on earlier in the season.
“I think that might have been their objective – get in my face early on,” O’Connor said. “I’ve been really aggressive around my crease lately trying to get my ground in the crease, so I think that helped.”
North Dakota, which had a total of 84 attempted shots during the game, also increased its attempted shots from 67 on Friday to 84 on Saturday.
“He’s a good goalie, a very good goalie,” Pattyn said. “If we threw pucks at him odds were a couple were going to get in, and if we get traffic in front of him… I think that was our main goal.
“He’s big, he moves well, he’s got a very good glove hand, so we knew we had to get guys in front of him.”
While O’Connor pegged his difficulty controlling rebounds as part of the reason for the number of shots, Quinn also pointed out that the number of BU shots that missed the net also had an impact.
“We missed the net 26 times tonight,” Quinn said. “Twenty-six times. I guarantee you 15 to 20 of their shots were a direct result of us missing the net, shooting it wide, starting their breakout and away they go.”
Despite this added offensive pressure, O’Connor put shot after shot aside, leading to a career high number of saves. A BU goaltender has not registered more than 55 saves in a game since former Terrier Kieran Millan stopped 68 shots during BU’s game against the University of New Hampshire during the Hockey East quarterfinals on March 11, 2012. That game went into two overtimes.
Although Quinn said that it was too early to determine whether O’Connor will pick up his fourth straight start next weekend during the Red Hot Hockey game against Cornell University at Madison Square Garden, he pointed out that O’Connor’s performance followed a trend from the entire season.
“He has been building on every performance he has had,” Quinn said.