Both nights, it could have ended poorly, but both nights, the No. 11 Boston University men’s hockey team managed to erase deficits and eke out a tie.
Saturday afternoon’s matchup with No. 1 Providence College at Agganis Arena was a little more intense offensively than Friday’s 1-1 tie in Providence, Rhode Island. After eliminating BU’s 2-0 deficit and jumping ahead 3-2 thanks to the heroics of freshman forward Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson, BU (5-3-2, 3-2-2 Hockey East) eventually skated away with a 3-3 tie and two points on the weekend.
After a battle of a series, as always, it’s time to sit back, relax and pick apart what we liked and didn’t like. Here are our pluses and minuses from Saturday’s game:
Keeping up with the best
The narrative was there all weekend — the rematch between last year’s national championship game foes, BU looking for “redemption” against the No. 1 team in the nation.
At the end of the day, BU came away with a pair of ties and two crucial Hockey East points — and impressive resilience to earn comeback ties against one of the nation’s top teams.
“We can compete with the best of ‘em,” said BU head coach David Quinn following the game. “That’s a big, strong, well-balanced team. We showed a lot of resiliency, we showed some mental toughness.”
Of course, the ties can be a tad bittersweet, but it’s hard to complain about getting points.
“It’s a little weird with ties, you don’t really know how to feel about it,” Forsbacka Karlsson said. “But obviously two points this weekend is not too bad.”
JFK for President
First of all, props to the fans at Agganis Arena with a sign that said “JFK for President 2016.” Good execution on that.
Forsbacka Karlsson certainly made a surge in his freshman campaign with his performance against the Friars (6-0-2, 0-0-2 Hockey East). His first goal, which at the time tied the game 2-2, came on an attempt to chip in the puck to his linemate, senior forward Ahti Oksanen. Forsbacka Karlsson admitted he “wasn’t really sure if” Oksanen touched the puck or not, but it took a good enough curve that it made its way in.
Less than three minutes later, Forsbacka Karlsson gave BU the lead on a high shot from the slot.
“It was a good feeling,” he said. “… It’s always fun to kind of get energy from the crowd and play off that. I think that helps us a lot.”
Forsbacka Karlsson’s goals were just part of a huge third frame from BU. Andrew talks more about the team’s third-period surge in his sidebar.
It was undeniably a whistle-heavy contest, with a total of 16 penalties throughout the game. Both Quinn and Providence head coach Nate Leaman could be seen yelling at the officials at several points throughout the game. The game got a bit testy at times, with Oksanen and Friar defenseman Tom Parisi both getting penalized for hitting after the whistle at 9:14 of the second period.
“I think, especially last night, and this night, it was a lot of physical play,” Forsbacka Karlsson said. “And I think that’s part of the game, that’s how it’s supposed to be. We’ve got to stay out of the penalty box a little bit more than we did these two games, but aside from that, it’s just part of hockey.”
Eventually, the penalty-laden contest hit its worst point for the Terriers about 11 minutes into the second period when sophomore defenseman Brandon Hickey and junior defenseman Doyle Somerby — two of the biggest bodies on the team — went to the box and BU was forced to stave off a 5-on-3 without those players dispensable.
Despite success on the penalty kill a night ago, it didn’t work out on Saturday, and defenseman Jake Walman gave Providence a 2-0 lead just over halfway through the game.
And shortly after that goal, BU earned a bench minor.
The crowd wasn’t too pleased with the excess of calls, either. When the referees came on the ice before the third period, they heard a chorus of boos from the BU fans.
BU was outshot 15-8 in the first frame, and again outshot in the second period, 10-7.
Quinn fully acknowledged the dull start after the game.
“They [Providence] came out and continued what they did last night, while I thought our intensity level fell a little bit, our physicality fell a little bit and it took us a little while to pick up where we left off last night,” Quinn said. “And obviously penalties certainly didn’t help us again.”
But true to the form of last season, BU refocused and surged in the third period.
“I think we always have the same message,” said senior captain Matt Grzelcyk of the locker room mentality between the second and third periods. “We were down a lot last year, and I think we kind of learned from that. And I think we tried not to get frustrated as best as possible.”