Former Terrier Brandon Fortunato netted an early goal and a last-second game-winner to lead #7/6 Quinnipiac by BU 4-3 at Agganis Arena on Saturday night.
The Bobcats (17-5-1, 7-4-1 in ECAC) took the quick lead less than four minutes in on a short-side shot by freshman Desi Burgart that snuck by junior netminder Jake Oettinger. Quinnipiac would double their lead at 12:37 through Fortunato, who fired a wrist shot from Oettinger’s right that got through a sea of Bobcats and Terriers in front before finding the top right corner.
Fortunato was a Terrier for two years, before joining Quinnipiac ahead of his junior campaign.
“When he was here, he was really good for us,” remarked BU head coach Albie O’Connell. “Things just didn’t work out.”
Going behind by two goals for their second game in a row, the Terriers (8-9-3, 7-5-2 in Hockey East) dug in, and found their opener just two minutes after Bobcats’ second, as a feed in front by sophomore Ty Amonte found the upper body of junior Patrick Curry at the goalmouth and redirected into the Quinnipiac goal. It was Curry’s sixth goal on the season, and Amonte’s third assist.
With less than two minutes to play in the period, Amonte then provided BU with their equalizer, firing a shot by junior goaltender Andrew Shortridge while the Terriers were on the penalty kill. Willman’s assist was his fourth in the 2018-19 campaign, and Amonte’s goal was his fifth, capping off a two-point period for the Norwell, Mass. native. Still, despite his team’s rally to come back, O’Connell wasn’t satisfied with BU’s early effort.
“When you play a good hockey team, you have to start on time,” said the BU coach.
The offensive fireworks stalled in the middle stanza, as both netminders came up with big saves on top-tier opportunities. The lone goal of the period came from Quinnipiac freshman Daniel Winslow who poked home a pass inside to regain the Bobcats lead 6:22 into the second. The Terriers threatened with power play chances throughout the period, but ultimately headed into second intermission down 3-2.
It didn’t take long into the game’s final frame for BU to find their third goal, as sophomore Shane Bowers lit the lamp 7:35 into period on a feed in front from senior Ryan Cloonan. The goal continued Bowers’ hot streak of three goals in two games, and gave the Canadian his eighth tally of the season. The assist for Cloonan marked his third as a senior, all coming within the last four games.
The teams traded opportunities for the rest of the third, with the most notable coming on a penalty shot won by Quinnipiac sophomore Joe O’Connor. However, the defenseman’s bid was denied by Oettinger, who flawlessly turned away wave after wave of Quinnipiac attacks throughout the period en route to a 40-save performance.
“That was a huge play in the game,” commended O’Connell regarding Oettinger’s penalty shot save. “I think Jake has played really well these last 5, 6 games.”
Oettinger’s counterpart Shortridge was equally impressive late for the Bobcats, and the game remained deadlocked into the waning moments of the period. However, on the final rush of regulation, a last-second effort by Brandon Fortunato on a goalmouth scramble found the back of the net with two seconds to play. It was the senior’s second score of the game, and a goal holding special significance for the former Terrier.
“It’s a pretty special feeling”, said Fortunato. “I felt good out there.”
With their 2019 unbeaten streak broken in heartbreaking fashion, the Terriers will look to turn the page quickly as they host Merrimack on Monday at 4pm.