Down a goal with 10:21 remaining in the third period, the Boston University men’s hockey team drew back-to-back power plays. They failed to capitalize on either.
In a 2-1 loss against Cornell University at Madison Square Garden Saturday night, the Terrier man advantage that has been lethal for a majority of the season was shut down by a Big Red penalty kill that came into Saturday’s Red Hot Hockey matchup ranked 54th in the nation, but was smothering nonetheless.
“Little disappointing that we couldn’t find a way. I still thought we pushed at the end – I still thought we had chances and looks,” BU head coach Jay Pandolfo said postgame. “Give them credit, their goalie was excellent, thought they did a heck of a job selling out and blocking shots.”
Junior goaltender Ian Shane stood on his head for Cornell, robbing the Terriers on high-danger chances throughout the 60 minutes in his 35-save performance. While BU struck first with a goal from freshman Doug Grimes at 14:13 of the second period, Cornell’s two third period tucks were enough to propel the squad to its fourth-straight Red Hot Hockey win.
Grimes’ first collegiate goal seemed to be a microcosm of the way BU has been playing as of late – rolling deep and with a flair of swagger.
The play was created by an extra-effort keep in from Grimes, Shane Lachance and Sam Stevens. Lachance stopped the puck at the blue line and darted it down to Grimes left of the high slot who wristed it home for the 1-0 lift.
“I mean it was pretty surreal, of course in a pretty amazing building too. A lot of family here so it was a really cool moment,” Grimes said postgame. “The coaches are believing in our group and in our line. Having the belief from the coaches helps a lot, goes a long way.”
Grimes has been a pleasant, consistent surprise on the right wing of the fourth line by buying into his purpose and, in hand, becoming an indispensable piece to BU’s bottom six depth.
“That line is going to play against other team’s top lines at times. They know they have to put pucks behind the other team and grind down low and get to the net,” Pandolfo said. “I think they’re aware of what their role is and I think [Grimes] is doing a good job of that.”
The Terriers took six penalties, and Cornell cashed in at 3:58 of the third period with a tying tally from freshman forward Ryan Walsh to make it 1-1. Junior winger Ondrej Psenicka then earned Cornell the 2-1 lead at 8:24 off a slick no-look pass from freshman forward Jonathan Castagna down low.
“You have a 1-0 lead, we couldn’t extend the lead. We’re in the box a lot, I think that hurt us a little bit. They found a way to get the power play goal,” Pandolfo said.
BU’s loss wasn’t riddled with mistakes – it was a pretty buttoned up showing – but give Cornell an advantage, and it knows how to suck the air out of the competition by clogging up the middle and forcing a physical forecheck.
The effort was there from the Terriers – Macklin Celebrini came within inches of scoring multiple times, Cade Webber logged six blocked shots, Mathieu Caron posted 17 saves – but in tight games, every detail matters and every lapse has a cost.
It was a winnable game, the Terriers lost and it’s time to learn.
“I think we still played well tonight, we just didn’t get the outcome. We ran into a good goalie, we outshot them and I think we played a pretty strong game,” Grimes said. “I don’t think we need to change anything, we’ve just got to tone it down on some of the mistakes and we’ll be good.”