SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Garrett Noonan lay on the ice nearly motionless. After taking a hit from University of Notre Dame defenseman Stephen Johns, the senior captain of the Boston University men’s hockey team needed a minute to gather himself and catch a breath. The Terriers (10-21-4, 5-12-3 Hockey East) were down 3-1 with fewer than seven minutes left in the game.
|Boston University defenseman Garrett Noonan and
Notre Dame forward T.J. Tynan battle for the puck.
Photo by Michelle Jay.
“None of us accepted it — accepted losing,” Noonan said. “It seems like whenever we were down we got back up. It’s an honor to say I got to play with those guys.”
For the first half of the game, the Fighting Irish started exactly where they left off two weeks ago, scoring two goals and shutting down BU’s offense.
Notre Dame initially got on the board after center T.J. Tynan pickpocketed sophomore defenseman Ahti Oksanen in BU’s zone. Tynan, who brought the puck over to the left circle, then sent a pass to his linemate, Bryan Rust, on the right side of the goal. After deking around sprawled-out BU goaltender Matt O’Connor, Rust flipped his shot into the left side of the net.
After the goal, the Terriers had two power-play opportunities — including one that carried over into the opening seconds of the middle frame — but the team failed to even record a shot with the man-advantage.
“You can feel it deflate the bench,” said BU coach David Quinn. “I think that’s happened to us over the last month because our power play has not been good. Not only has it not produced from a numbers standpoint, we haven’t looked good on it.
“You can just feel it on the bench, it kind of demoralized us.”
Having failed to convert on the power play, the Terriers needed to fend off the Fighting Irish after BU registered two penalties over the course of a three-minute span. Seconds after the team killed off the second penalty, though, Notre Dame increased its initial lead after left wing and captain Jeff Costello sent a shot from the right circle that went through O’Connor’s five-hole.
The score mirrored the previous meetings between the teams where the Fighting Irish defeated BU 2-0 in back-to-back games. The similarities ended with fewer than four minutes left in the frame, though, when junior wing Evan Rodrigues found the back of the net, snapping the team’s scoreless streak against Notre Dame goaltender Steven Summerhays that had lasted roughly 155 minutes.
After putting multiple shots on Summerhays near the crease, Rodrigues finally broke through when he picked up his own rebound and notched it into the left side of the goal, making it a 2-1 game.
While that goal gave the team confidence, according to Quinn, it did not last for long as Notre Dame once again took a two-goal lead over the Terriers in the opening minutes of the third period.
As the game neared its end, though, the Fighting Irish gave BU an opportunity. With wing Mike Voran already in the penalty box for tripping, Johns hit Noonan, giving BU a 5-on-3 advantage for 51 seconds.
Although Noonan originally came off the ice with the help of a trainer, the defenseman stayed on the bench and eventually made his way back on the ice during the ensuing power play. With the Voran penalty having come off the clock just 11 seconds earlier, Noonan sent a pass over to freshman center Robbie Baillargeon, who bounced his shot off the back of the net, making it a one-goal game once again.
Despite pulling O’Connor for the final 1:19 of the game and a breakaway chance by freshman wing Nick Roberto, though, the Terriers could not complete the comeback.
As the final buzzer sounded, Noonan and several other Terriers glided down toward their goal hunched over with their season — and for some of them, their BU careers — having just come to an end.
“I think we’re all crushed,” Noonan said.