By Tim Healey/DFP Staff
David Quinn put it best: “That was a long time coming.”
The Boston University men’s hockey team topped No. 17 University of Vermont, 4-2, at Agganis Arena Friday night, the Terriers’ first win in longer than they’d like to think about (55 days).
A well-rounded offensive effort and another strong performance in goal lifted BU (8-13-2, 3-7-1 Hockey East) to the win. The Catamounts (12-9-3, 4-7 Hockey East) saw far fewer timely plays as they fell for the third time in four games.
Here’s a look at what went well — and what didn’t — for the hosts.
The Terriers found themselves in a precarious situation toward the end of the second: up by one and with a 5-on-3 power play coming up. Scoring would give them a two-goal lead — something BU hasn’t seen too often lately — but failing to do so would be a huge momentum kill.
So Quinn called a timeout.
“That was a pivotal point in the game, and we needed to [take advantage],” Quinn said. “For us to get a two-goal lead right now, it’s like winning the lottery. It’s a big momentum change for us.”
It worked. Shortly after a faceoff, sophomore defenseman Ahti Oksanen picked off the top-right corner from the point in what proved to be the eventual game-winning goal.
Yes, again. Maguire has at least temporarily assumed the No. 1 goaltending spot over his fellow sophomore netminder, Matt O’Connor.
He made 36 saves, and although he likely wants one of the UVM goals back — a puck slipped between him and the post when Mario Puskarich shot it from the red line — he did come away with his first win since Oct. 11, BU’s season opener.
Quinn moved the freshman forward off of the first line, and Roberto made the best of it with his new offensive unit, sophomore wing Matt Lane and sophomore center Mike Moran.
He assisted on BU’s two power-play goals, then tallied an empty-netter with 1.5 seconds left for the first three-point game of his career.
“About time we got a bounce,” Roberto said of his goal. “I feel like the past few games a lot of bounces weren’t going our way, it was nice to get one finally our way.”
Roberto also saw significant time on special teams, as he usually does, and played on the top line when sophomore forward Danny O’Regan wound up in the penalty box.
Injured personnel toughing it out
Oksanen and junior wing Evan Rodrigues were questionable with knee injuries after the team’s practice Thursday, but when it came time to fill out the lineup the next day, Quinn decided to dress both of them.
Oksanen played consistently against the Catamounts, and although Rodrigues did not take shifts as regularly, the fact that they both suited up meant a lot for a Terrier team that failed to skate the usual 18 skaters last weekend.
Quinn said the decision to play Rodrigues in particular could have gone either way. But he had a specific reason for doing so.
“I had a feeling our young kids were starting to use our injuries as a little bit of a crutch,” Quinn said. “Well, that’s not acceptable. It’s one of the reasons I dressed Rodrigues. I wanted them to think, ‘Oh, E-Rod’s on the bench, so we’re going to be OK.’ He feels better than I thought he was going to feel, so hopefully we might see him a little bit more tomorrow night.”
The Grzelcyk-less power play
Surely, losing one of your most dynamic defensemen and potent pointmen would have a detrimental effect on your power play. Right?
Not so for the Terriers. They are 5-for-20 in four games on the power play since sophomore defenseman Matt Grzelcyk went down with a separated shoulder, including 1-for-4 against Vermont.
BU’s man advantage, which operates at a 22 percent success rate overall, tops the Hockey East.
The problem here was two-fold. First, the Terriers wound up in the sin bin more than usual — they took 10 minors for nine UVM power plays — and second, BU had trouble killing the man advantages at times.
Both of the Catamounts’ tallies came on the power play. The first knotted the score at one apiece and came about a minute and a half BU took the lead.
According to Quinn, that’s part of a disturbing trend.
“I’m sure you’ve all noticed, we score a goal, and usually the pattern is the other team gets a scoring chance 30 seconds later,” he said. “So we’re going to have to clean that up a little bit.”
Surprise, surprise. The Catamounts outshot the Terriers 38-26, a stat due in part to all of the time BU spent playing 4-on-5, but still consistent with a season-long trend.
Total shots attempted was even more drastic — 82-43 in favor of UVM — and the third period in particular featured a brutal shot-on-goal differential at 14-4.