For the second straight game, the No. 7 Boston University men’s hockey team faced one of the nation’s best defenses, and for the second straight game, BU was trapped in a close game — and the game got sent to overtime.
Against No. 3 Boston College in Monday’s Beanpot final, the Terriers didn’t have such great luck. This time, though, against the No. 11 University of Massachusetts Lowell on Friday at Agganis Arena, freshman forward Jordan Greenway scored just 29 seconds into overtime to give BU a 2-1 win.
As usual, we have a lot of things to pick apart from that game — both positive and negative. Here’s a sampling of both:
Moran in the middle
Senior forward Mike Moran had a breakaway goal in the second period to give BU a 1-0 lead at the time — obviously, a crucial moment in a very, very tight game. Judy has more on that goal and his recent play in her sidebar.
Greenway, Maguire, etc.
We tend to give a lot of love to Greenway and senior goaltender Sean Maguire in our pluses and minuses, and won’t go too much in depth this time around, but given how big they were in this game, we couldn’t go without giving them a shoutout.
Greenway had the game-winner on a redirection of senior captain Matt Grzelcyk’s initial shot in overtime, making for his third goal in three games.
Maguire, meanwhile, had 25 saves and earned the win. He lowered his goals-against average on the season to 2.12 and raised his save percentage to .929.
BU only committed three penalties in the game: two on freshman defenseman Charlie McAvoy, the first of which was a somewhat questionable holding call, and a roughing call on Greenway. The Terriers entered the game averaging 5.1 penalties and 11.2 penalty minutes per game — certainly an improvement against a team where there’s very little margin for error.
It’s no question that these final Hockey East series are crucial for BU, which currently sits in fifth place in Hockey East. The win gave them 23 points in conference play, just one point behind fourth-place Lowell.
The top four teams receive home ice in the conference tournament and a first-round bye. And in the final three weeks of the regular season, BU has games against two of those teams trying to cling on to a first-round bye: Lowell, and the first-place University of Notre Dame.
“Well, it’s playoff hockey from here on in,” said BU head coach David Quinn. “Certainly had a playoff feel to it.”
That one Lowell goal
In a game as tight as this one, every goal counts, and despite holding the lead until the later half of the third period, BU surrendered a goal with 7:29 remaining in the game.
On the play, Maguire skated behind his goal and looked to dump off the puck to one of his defensemen, but neither sophomore John MacLeod nor junior Doyle Somerby fetched it. Maguire scrambled back, and stopped the initial shot from Dmowski, but couldn’t stop the rebound shot from Lowell captain A.J. White. MacLeod was the closest defenseman who could have picked up the rebound and cleared it, but he failed to do so.
MacLeod had a relatively strong game defensively otherwise, and had some noticeable chances on offense, but this wasn’t his finest moment, to say the least.
“We haven’t talked about it yet, but we’ll certainly have to clean that up a little bit,” Quinn said.
Failed line experiment
When we talked to Quinn on Thursday, and asked if there would be any line changes, he didn’t give any specifics, but indicated that we could be surprised on Friday. And hoo boy, were we surprised. There was a complete remodel of the third line on the line charts we were given: Moran played left wing with freshman Ryan Cloonan at center, and usual freshman center Bobo Carpenter moving over to right wing. Junior Robbie Baillargeon centered the fourth line between junior Tommy Kelley and sophomore Chase Phelps.
But that didn’t last long. By our unofficial count, the experiment only lasted two or three shifts. Before long, Cloonan was back on the first line — where freshman Oskar Andrén started the past five games — and Moran was back down to the fourth line. Baillargeon moved back to his usual spot on the third-line wing, with Andrén on the other wing and Carpenter centering.
That’s a bit of a mouthful, but tl,dr: As far as we could see, for most of the game, the lines looked like they did a few weeks ago in this game.
“It was a quick experiment, and we didn’t like it,” Quinn said. “So we went back to it, made a few changes, and pretty much stuck with it.
Hard to be too nitpicky on this, but worth noting: BU had a 4-on-3 opportunity for 1:46 in the second period, after Greenway and River Hawks defenseman Tyler Mueller were sent off for matching roughing penalties and Lowell defenseman Dylan Zink was sent off 14 seconds later for a hooking penalty.
That 4-on-3 chance didn’t amount to anything goal-wise, which Quinn addressed in the postgame press conference.
“That’s our fault,” Quinn. “We haven’t practiced that in God knows how long. I don’t even remember the last time we practiced that and that’s certainly on us. That was our fault. That’s a lot of uncertainty and that’s the coach’s fault. We hadn’t practiced it since I think before Christmas.”