By Tim Healey/DFP Staff
Weather delayed the game, but it seemed as though nothing could delay the result — or how it happened. The Boston University men’s hockey team fell, 3-1, to the University of New Hampshire Monday at Agganis Arena after staying close for 60 minutes until an empty-net goal put the Terriers away.
UNH junior forward Matt Willow scored all three Wildcat goals to give him five on the weekend, making him arguably the biggest reason UNH took the two-game sweep. Here’s a look at the other factors, good and bad.
Simply put, Willows owned the BU defense. Aside from his hat trick, Willows could have had another if not for sophomore netminder Sean Maguire‘s save on a third-period penalty shot.
Willows had seven shots on net in all — more than BU had over the course of the entire first or third periods — and is up to 18 tallies on the season.
“It always feels good to get goals,” he said. “Getting goals is probably the best feeling in the world.”
Yes, again. Friday’s shots-on-net total of 40-27 in favor of BU proved to be a one-game reprieve from an issue that has plagued BU all season. The Wildcats beat up on BU by a 38-18 margin Monday, a telling statistic when he came to time spent in the teams’ respective offensive zones.
BU also had a hard time testing UNH goalie Casey DeSmith
with shots from in close. The official charts indicate the Terriers had no more than four chances from in close, including none during a third period in which UNH held a 13-4 SOG advantage.
“We didn’t do enough of that at all,” said BU coach David Quinn. “We spent zero time at their net front. That’s something we did a great job of at UNH [Friday]. On a bigger ice sheet, we were physical, we got to the net, we attacked the offensive zone with speed, and we had bodies going to the net. And we had none of that tonight.”
UNH’s shorthanded goal
It was 1-1 midway through the second when the Terriers got their first — and only — power play of the game. But after the Terriers struggled to maintain possession, then struggled to get anything on net when they did maintain possession, the Wildcats bit them in a hurry.
An offensive-zone turnover led to Willows getting the puck behind the entire BU defense. Willows capitalized on his one-on-goalie breakaway by beating Maguire high glove-side.
“It deflated us a little bit, but . . .,” Quinn said, shaking his head and failing to finish the thought. “It’s been the story of our season. You need to make good decisions. It’s not two minutes of a free opportunity to score a goal. You still have to play hockey and recognize situations. We just made a horrible, horrible play on that goal.”
The SHG was the 10th BU has given up in 2013-14, the most in Hockey East.
Given the time of year, it’s never a bad year to take stock of the Hockey East standings, even if the playoff picture is an ugly one for BU.
Right now, with four games to go, BU sits in 10th — second-to-last — with nine points and will likely have to travel for the first round of the conference tournament. If they wanted to avoid the road, where they haven’t won all season, the Terriers would need to overtake the University of Massachusetts (11 points) and the University of Notre Dame and the University of Vermont (14 each) to sneak into eighth.
If the regular season ended today, BU would head to Vermont or Notre Dame depending on tie-breakers.
Maguire and sophomore Matt O’Connor seem to have worked somewhat in a platoon again, each starting a game this weekend. Maguire made the most of his by making 35 stops in 37 chances, including the big one on Willows’ penalty shot and a number of slick glove saves.
BU only took three — one being Doyle Somerby‘s slashing leading to the penalty shot — and yielded zero shots on the Wildcats’ only power play. The UNH man advantage came on Maguire’s slashing at 12:37 in the third, the first penalty of his career.