Down two goals entering the third period, the No. 2/3 Boston University men’s hockey team came back for a 3-2 overtime victory against the University of Maine Friday night at Agganis Arena.
Of course, as we always do, we found several things to praise and a few things to criticize. Here are our pluses and minuses from tonight, plus some additional notes below:
Eichel and his overtime heroics
It goes without saying, but freshman forward Jack Eichel was the hero on Friday night. He extended his point streak to nine consecutive games, and had the difference-making tally in overtime. Andrew has more on Eichel’s performance in his sidebar.
For a team that has seen the majority of its scoring come from the first line, junior forward Matt Lane — a third-line center — provided a pleasant change of pace with his third-period goal to tie the game with 10:57 left in regulation. Lane’s linemates, sophomore Nick Roberto and freshman A.J. Greer, assisted on the goal.
Greer’s assist on Lane’s goal was the first helper of his collegiate career. BU head coach David Quinn praised the play and progress of the young rookie, who does not turn 18 until Dec. 14.
“A.J.’s getting better and better,” Quinn said. “We’re an instant gratification society these days so patience is hard to come by, and he’s gotten better and better. He’s earned his opportunity. He saw a lot more ice time than he has. … There’s a lot there, and he’s going to be a big part of team moving forward. And I’m glad to see him get rewarded.”
Despite other players chipping in, Quinn said he was pleased with the goal, but doesn’t pay much mind to who scored.
“It was good,” Quinn said, “But I don’t care who scores them. I don’t care who scores them. [If] we get six and one line gets all six, it doesn’t say who’s scoring them. It says BU. A lot of teams in college hockey have lived off their first lines. You’ve gotta have a big line.”
BU found itself in four man-down situations in the game, but held staunch on the penalty kill, keeping Maine from scoring any power-play goals.
The Terriers also killed off all of their penalties against Maine on Nov. 14, when BU took home a 3-1 victory.
Of course, for a strong penalty kill performance, the penalties have to occur in the first place. The Terriers were in a lot of penalty trouble in this game — BU had three straight penalties in the first half of the second period, and junior captain Matt Grzelcyk was called for a crucial tripping penalty with 10 minutes left in the game, just after the Terriers had tied the game.
Though BU allowed no goals on the PK, Quinn said the consistent penalties threw a bit of a wrench in the game.
“The penalties in the second period really disrupted the flow,” Quinn said. “They [Maine] had three power plays in the second, so that kind of put us on our heels a little bit.”
Prior to Friday’s game, Quinn said that against Maine, BU needed “to match their intensity and their desire.” The Terriers struggled quite a bit with that notion in the first several minutes of the match — through the first 7:33 of the game, the Black Bears had 13 total shots to BU’s three.
“They’re well-coached, they play hard,” Quinn said. “We weren’t ready to match their intensity and their grit to start the game, [in the] first 10 minutes.”
Of course, it’s nothing new for BU to have to play from behind or have a miraculous third-period comeback, as we’ve noted many times here on the blog. BU even ended the first period ahead in shots on goal, with 15 to Maine’s eight.
-Quinn noted postgame that he doesn’t expect sophomore forward Robbie Baillargeon, who is dealing with mononucleosis, to return until after Christmas.
-Quinn also said freshman forward Nikolas Olsson, who has an upper body injury, is making progress. He gave no specifics on a timetable other than that Olsson should return before Baillargeon.
-As a fun bonus, here’s a shoutout to our friend Scott Ellis, the sports information director for the BU men’s basketball team. The Terriers hung in for the first half, but fell to the No. 1 University of Kentucky, 89-65. Ellis, however, had a highlight reel-worthy play at Rupp Arena before the game started: