You can’t win them all, or at least it’s very difficult to, and the No. 6 Boston University men’s hockey team was a prime example of that old adage Saturday night at Agganis Arena.
The Terriers (4-1, 2-1 Hockey East) started off with four straight wins to start the 2014-15 season, but finally took one in the loss column against No. 8/9 Providence College. A late push in the third period was not enough to best the Friars (2-3-1, 1-1 Hockey East).
Here’s a closer look into what went right and wrong this evening:
After Friday night’s 4-1 win at Schneider Arena, BU coach David Quinn said he believed Saturday’s game would be the toughest game of the Terriers’ early schedule. He expected Providence to come out and play with intensity, which the Friars did.
BU was just about as sluggish as you could get in that same period. Providence outshot the Terriers 17-5 and held a 1-0 lead.
“I knew that they were going to amp up their game, and I was hoping we were going to match our effort last night and maybe even turn it up a notch, but we didn’t until maybe 10 minutes into the second period,” Quinn said.
For more on the opening frame woes, read Conor’s side bar.
The Terrier penalty kill looked on the upswing during the first game of the home-and-home series, killing all four PC power-play chances. But a successful penalty unit got into trouble from the outset Saturday.
Freshman defenseman Brandon Hickey and his classmate, forward Nikolas Olsson, were each called for two-minute minors in the first period. The Terriers killed off the first infraction, but junior goaltender Matt O’Connor could only do so much on the second score. Forward Matt Jankowski netted in a shot to put the Friars up, 1-0.
BU killed off the rest of the penalties for the rest of the game, but the special teams unit spent a total of 16 minutes on the ice — four of which came in the crucial final period.
Unlike in basketball or football where there are official stats for turnovers and steals, there is not such a stat kept in hockey. Just watching this game though, the Terriers had some costly defensive zone turnovers.
The one that sticks out the most was on Providence’s second goal. Hickey battled for the puck along the left-wing boards and tried to fire a cross-ice D zone pass. Instead of finding a scarlet and white skater, he all but assisted Shane Luke’s shot that beat O’Connor glove side.
As BU mounted its comeback in the third period, another defensive turnover almost put the game out of reach. Forward Ross Mauermann stole the puck in the slot and got it by O’Connor. The shot, luckily for the Terriers, bounced off the crossbar and out of harm’s way.
“I thought our goalie was great early, I thought their goalie was great late, Quinn said. “We just had a couple of costly turnovers that end up in the back of our net and we couldn’t get the second one by [goaltender Jon] Gillies.”
Third Period Turnaround
This year’s Terrier squad has made a habit of playing well in the third period. Coming into the game, BU had a combined nine goals for and none allowed in the final period of the game. Even in a loss, the Terriers’ best 20 minutes came at the end.
From the first draw of the stanza, BU’s forecheck was aggressive and pounded Gillies with shots. An abysmal attack to start the contest finished with a flourish.
The effort paid off at the 4:38 mark when after multiple chances in scrum in the crease, junior forward Danny O’Regan stuffed in a rebound after junior defenseman Matt Grzelcyk’s first few chances were denied.
BU pressured Gillies for the remainder of the game, but he was in position for the remainder of the shots, including chances on a last-minute BU power play.
“I like how we pulled it together and I liked how not only made a game of it, I really felt like at one point we were going to tie it. But too little, too late,” Quinn said.
One of the only reasons the Terriers stayed in the game so long was the play of the junior netminder. O’Connor carried in a three-game winning streak, and played his best Saturday to get a fourth.
He overcame 27 shots through two periods — many of which were chances in high-scoring areas. The junior kept the rebounds to a minimum and stopped all but two shots. It was a tough-luck loss for O’Connor in this one.