By Meredith Perri/DFP Staff
NORTH ANDOVER — Down 1-0 and with just over six minutes left in the first frame, the Boston University men’s hockey team went onto the penalty kill for the first time during its tilt with Merrimack College. While the Terriers ultimately kept the Warriors off the board, though, the man-advantage kick-started a dominant stretch of more than five minutes for Merrimack.
The Warriors sent a flurry of shots toward wing Quinn Gould, who was stationed right in front of sophomore goaltender Matt O’Connor. With seconds remaining on the clock, it looked as though the Terriers would head to the locker room down by one.
In those waning seconds, though, wing Nick Roberto broke away from the pack as he skated down the left side of the rink. The freshman then sent the puck across the ice to sophomore blueliner Matt Grzelcyk, whose quick shot found the back of the net.
Although BU (7-7-1, 2-4-0 Hockey East) picked up the late tally in the first, it did not create the momentum shift the Terriers needed as the Warriors (4-9-1, 1-5-1 Hockey East) eventually came back to defeat BU 3-2 Friday evening at Lawler Arena. The victory marked the Warriors’ first in more than a month and continued BU’s winless streak during true road games.
“We got out-everythinged,” said BU coach David Quinn. “They outworked us, out hit us, out shot us, out passed us, out absolutely everything us tonight.”
The Warriors jumped on the board early after a shot by Jonathan Lashyn tipped off the stick of BU freshman defender Dalton MacAfee, giving Merrimack a 1-0 advantage just 2:34 into the game.
“That is one of those freak plays that happen all the time,” said senior captain Patrick MacGregor. “It happened early in the game, so I kind of told him after it happened, ‘Don’t let it affect you the rest of the way because then we are going to have a problem.'”
Over the course of the next 10 minutes, Merrimack held possession in BU’s defensive zone and stymied a Terrier power-play unit that had only four shots, all of which were from outside the perimeter, during two separate opportunities.
After senior wing Jake Moscatel made his way to the penalty box for boarding, the pace of the game picked up as Merrimack not only put significant pressure on the Terrier defense, but also maintained it after BU killed off the penalty.
“We created a lot of our own problems,” Quinn said. “In the same breath, that was a team that was playing hungry, and they were well coached as they always are. They just made life miserable for [us].”
For a brief period of time, all of that changed when Roberto and Grzelcyk teamed up to put the Terriers on the board with a mere 15 seconds left in the frame.
With a blank slate heading into the middle period, the pace of the game evened out until wing Tommy Kelley made a few quick moves to give the Terriers a 2-1 lead. The freshman earned his second goal of the season after he picked up a pass from classmate center Robbie Baillargeon, deked Merrimack goalie Rasmus Tirronen, then backhanded the puck into the back of the net.
Merrimack was not done, however, as it took control of the game in the third, eventually outshooting the Terriers 13-3 and tying the game 4:27 into the third period while on the power play. After a centering pass from the left faceoff dot went by one Warrior, center Brian Christie picked up the puck and snapped it into an open net.
“Sure a big part of that was they’re 0-7 and they’re down 2-1 going into the third,” Quinn said of Merrimack’s performance. “We just didn’t have the ability to play hard in the third period when it mattered most.”
Left wing Mike Collins, who returned to the Warriors lineup after missing four games due to injury, gave Merrimack the lead after he wristed a low shot from the slot that found its way by O’Connor’s blocker with 9:40 remaining in the frame.
“He’s a great player,” Quinn said. “When you stand around and let somebody skate around like that, can be an even better player than they normally are and that’s what happened tonight.
“We stood around and [had] no urgency and just got exactly what we deserved. Exactly what we deserved. It should have been worse probably.”