David Quinn has reiterated all season that his team has a “that was then, this is now” mentality. Leave the past in the past.
It might be tough for the third-year head coach of the No. 10 Boston University men’s hockey team might to admit it, but just from the look of it, this one felt a lot like one from last year.
With BU (6-3-2, 3-2-2 Hockey East) down two goals after two periods, the Terriers came storming back with three goals in the third period to steal a win from No. 12 University of Michigan, 3-2.
The Terriers have now earned a point in six consecutive games.
Junior defenseman Doyle Somerby capped off the rally with his second goal of the year with 2:54 left in the game.
For large chunks of the game, though, BU looked sloppy and played inconsistent hockey, so we’ll take a look at what went right and wrong in this Pluses and Minuses.
These two teams were locked in a tight game when they met last October, a game in which BU prevailed with two third-period goals.
Although BU was down two goals after the first 40 minutes this time, the third period felt eerily similar to how last year’s played out. Senior assistant captain Danny O’Regan and junior forward Robbie Baillargeon scored in 12-second span about halfway through the period, and Somerby scored the winner at 17:06.
These come-from-behind third periods have been a trend over the last two weekends, as BU has totaled seven goals in its last three third periods. Judy has you covered in her sidebar about BU’s success late in the game.
Penalty shot denied
Sophomore netminder Connor LaCouvee had a relatively quiet third period, making just four saves.
But one stop could not have been more timely for the Terriers.
Moments after BU had tied the score, Michigan forward Tyler Motte broke loose from center ice on a breakaway. Somerby came from behind him and prevented a pure 1-on-1 chance with LaCouvee. But in the process, the referees determined that Somerby had slashed Motte’s stick as he went in on goal, and Motte was awarded a penalty shot.
LaCouvee, anchored in the crease, held his position throughout the chance, and was in great position to stop Motte’s penalty shot, which went low blocker side.
A save and a pump of the fist later, and the score stayed tied.
“Obviously the momentum is on our side, and then we give up a breakaway,” Quinn said. “Connor makes an unbelievable save.”
Quinn said he didn’t see LaCouvee’s celebration after the save, but said that his goalie’s mentality has been important in this recent stretch.
“He’s got an unbelievable personality,” Quinn said. “And he’s a great kid, and he’s really, really playing well. So love that emotion. You need emotion.”
What they’ve also received is consistent play in net, which appeared to be a question mark early in the season. But LaCouvee has allowed three or fewer goals in his last four starts, and now owns a .920 save percentage for the season.
Third line comes up big
For most of the game, like every other unit, BU’s third line was shut down by the Michigan defense and goaltender Steve Racine. The line composed of sophomore winger A.J. Greer, Baillargeon and freshman forward Bobo Carpenter had chances, especially near the doorstep from Greer, early on but could not find the back of the net.
Just a tick before the 11-minute mark in the third period, they finally were rewarded.
Baillargeon took a pass from Carpenter behind the net and then curled the puck on a wraparound past Racine for the tying goal. All three skaters earned a point on this tally.
“I thought that line played well tonight,” Quinn said. “I thought they were probably our best line early on. I thought AJ had a good night, I thought Robbie had a good night, Bobo played well. It’s always nice to spread the wealth in the scoring department.”
ESPN personality, and avid lover of college hockey, John Buccigross was in attendance for Friday night’s game.
For those who don’t know, the last three BU games — and two this season — that Buccigross has either announced or attended has ended in a Terrier loss.
That changed against Michigan, and the so called “Buccigross Curse” has been lifted, if there ever really was a curse to lift.
Slow 40 minutes
BU prided itself on playing a strong end-to-end game against No. 1 Providence College last weekend, but that was far from the case Friday.
The Wolverines displayed a quick forecheck and won just about every puck battle in the first two periods. BU had trouble matching the pace and quickly fell behind on the scoreboard and in shot attempts. Michigan also had net-front presence and clogged the middle on the defensive side to prevent prime opportunities.
Through two periods, Michigan had out-attempted BU 52-35, which was pretty indicative of how the Wolverines controlled the game.
“Those first two periods were tough to watch,” Quinn said. “I didn’t think we had a lot of jump in our step, I thought they were much quicker to loose pucks. They were quicker in general, they were much more alert than we were. We didn’t really have a lot going on for ourselves.”
For the second week in a row, moments after the Terriers took a late lead, a penalty followed. Last week, senior assistant captain Matt Lane’s slashing minor led to the tying goal.
This week, Greer took a hitting from behind penalty with 2:28 remaining on the clock, setting up a frantic rush by the Wolverines. A few deflections and shots that went inches wide could have ended up tying the game if they had gone the other way.
As strong as LaCouvee was in the series opener, this area of the net seemed to give him some fits.
Michigan’s first goal from forward Alex Kile was an odd-angle shot that snuck between LaCouvee’s pad and the post. A similar play happened in the second period on the other side of the ice, and LaCouvee looked bewildered on where the puck was.
Fortunately for him, it was stuck between his pad on the post and not over the goal line.
It was a weird group of plays, but it’ll be interesting to see if Michigan looks to attempt more on the nearside of the net Saturday afternoon if LaCouvee gets the starting nod.