Losses have been hard to come by for both No. 2/3 Boston University and No. 17 Boston College entering into Friday night’s tilt between the archrivals at Agganis Arena.
With both squads posting a combined record of 8-0-5 since the start of December, something had to give.
Unfortunately for the Terriers, a seven-game unbeaten streak was not in the cards against their Chestnut Hill foe, as the Eagles skated off the ice at Jack Parker Rink with a 4-2 victory.
As with any game, there were both positives and negatives to take away from the 267th meeting between the Terriers and Eagles.
BU’s blueliners reveal their youth
For perhaps the first time all season, BU’s young defenseman corps — which have supplied the Terriers with sound play, keen decision making and a consistent output of offense from the blue line — proved to be the team’s Achilles’ heel.
Throughout the game, BC’s forwards used their size and skill to consistently put BU’s defensemen on their heels, specifically the Terriers’ four freshman blueliners in John MacLeod, Brandon Hickey, Brandon Fortunato and Brien Diffley.
For BU coach David Quinn, it was his team’s inability to challenge the Eagles on transition proved to be the prime culprit for his team’s struggles, as maroon and gold skaters were constantly left unchecked before breaking into the Terriers’ zone.
“Our gap was horrific,” Quinn said. “It was the number-one problem for us all night long. Our D just did not hold the offensive blue line long enough. BC’s fast, we made them look a lot faster by just backing off.
“Like I said, we looked like we had four freshmen D tonight, and that hasn’t happened very often this year, so frustrating, because it’s not how we’ve been playing, but it was the case tonight.”
Penalties prove costly
Before Friday night’s contest got underway, the opening faceoff was disrupted for a few fleeting moments after BU senior assistant captain Evan Rodrigues became tangled up with a BC skater and tumbled down near center ice.
It was a telling sign for what was set to transpire.
As has been the case throughout the almost century-long discord between BU and BC, Friday night’s game was marked by physical play, post-whistle extracurricular activities and penalties abound.
Both teams combined for 17 penalties in the match — including 12 in the first period — paving the way for multiple special-team chances throughout.
In the end, the Eagles were able to capitalize off of the Terrier’s undisciplined slip-ups, notching two 5-on-3 goals and one 4-on-4 tally to jump out to a commanding 3-0 lead after two periods.
While BU managed to light the lamp with an extra skater in the third — the fifth straight game in which the Terriers have scored on the man advantage — it was “too little, too late” for the scarlet and white.
“Dumb penalties in the first period set us back, Quinn said. “We had a power play and we take an offensive-zone penalty which you just can’t have and then we take two stupid penalties right after that which we really haven’t done all year. They get a 5-on-3 goal, they get a 4-on-4 goal and then they get another 5-on-3 goal and we’re down 3-0.”
A quick start …. And a strong finish
The Eagles might have entered into the first intermission with a 2-0 advantage, but based off of the opening five minutes of play, it seemed as if the Terriers were primed to establish themselves on the scoresheet thanks to a few scoring chances generated against BC netminder Thatcher Demko.
Ultimately, BU’s undisciplined play ended up putting an end to the team’s impressive opening display.
“I thought that we actually got off to a pretty good start,” Quinn said. “I liked our first five minutes and then the penalties.”
BU only managed to compile nine shots against Demko over the final 20 minutes of play, but made its chances count, finding the back of the net twice — thanks to goals from junior forwards Danny O’Regan and Matt Lane — to give the Terriers new life after entering the period staring at a 3-0 BC lead.
The Sasquatch Effect
Down by two goals with a little over five minutes remaining in the game, the Terriers and Agganis Arena crowd seemed to receive a shot in the arm with the arrival of BU superfan “Sasquatch.”
No more than 20 seconds after the bewhiskered BU backer made his presence felt in the BU student section, Lane tipped a rebound offering past Demko to cut the Terriers’ deficit to one and send Agganis into a frenzy.
Was there a direct correlation? Likely not. But a Sasquatch sighting is always a plus in my book.