ORONO, Maine — The Boston University men’s hockey team could either count itself unlucky to walk away with a 3-3 tie with the University of Maine after taking an early 2-0 lead, or lucky to salvage a point in a game filled with ill-advised penalties.
Terrier coach Jack Parker chose the latter route, saying he liked everything about the game except his team’s five second-period minors. Here’s a look at what went right and what went wrong for BU on Friday.
Oksanen scored three goals in his first six games but hadn’t found the back of the net since Nov. 16 in Vermont. On Friday, with senior forward Ben Rosen screening Maine goalie Martin Ouellette, the same slap shot that earned him those early goals found its way through traffic and over Ouellette’s shoulder to tie the game 3-3.
“When I shoot high it’s more likely to go in, so you can say that I try to score every time when [I] shoot from the blue line,” Oksanen said.
“He’s had a lot of stances where he’s been in good positions to shoot, and it’s nice we’re getting the puck to him a bit more,” freshman goalie Matt O’Connor said. “He’s got such a great shot. It’s nice to see him utilize it a bit more.”
A point gained
At the end of the second period, BU found itself staring at a 3-2 deficit against Hockey East’s ninth-place team. They’d spent half of the second period shorthanded and appeared on the way to another frustrating loss. But with Oksanen’s goal and a third period that was at least more energetic than the second, they earned the tie.
Oksanen said he was disappointed with not winning, but offered an assessment that was both obvious and relevant, considering BU is without a point in its last four games and is in no position to turn down a tie.
“Of course a tie is good,” Oksanen said. “One point is more than zero points.”
Second line pitches in
Junior forward Matt Nieto had just one point, an assist, in his last three games, but he and his sophomore linemate Evan Rodrigues combined to set up BU’s first goal, in which Nieto flipped a feed from Rodrigues over Ouellette’s shoulder.
Those two teamed up again on Oksanen’s goal. Rodrigues sent the puck to Oksanen for the slap shot, and Nieto also had an assist on the play.
“Rodrigues had a hell of a game on the point on the power play, and that line played pretty well,” Parker said. “I thought Nieto played well.”
Through the last month and a half, when the Terriers have been at their lowest, senior captain Wade Megan was rarely part of the disciplinary problem. But when Joey Diamond, who leads the Black Bears in penalty minutes on the year with 87, threw a low hit on him behind the BU net, that appeared to be the final straw.
Megan shoved Diamond to the ground and gave him a couple cross-checks to the back of the head. When those were about to go unpunished, he shoved Diamond one more time, then gestured toward the rest of the ice, apparently still hoping for a call against Diamond.
That call didn’t come, but Megan got a double-minor for roughing, and Diamond scored on the ensuing power play. Parker said he thought Diamond targeted Megan’s knees on the hit.
“I don’t even think [Megan] deserved the first penalty,” Parker said. “He definitely deserved the second penalty.”
Shorthanded second period
Aside from Megan’s time in the box (cut short when Maine scored less than a minute into the first minor), BU took three other minors in the period. They finished the game with 12:25 of shorthanded time, enough that even a struggling power play like the Black Bears’ had ample opportunity to score.
Maine took 17 shots to BU’s four in the second, a margin that would be tough to achieve without one team spending a great deal of time shorthanded. On their third power-play goal, scored by Diamond with Megan in the box, the Terrier penalty killers just didn’t seem to have the energy left to challenge Diamond on the shot.
Penalty kill continues to struggle
The Black Bears, who came into the game with a 9.8 percent power play (worst in the league), scored three power play goals on eight chances. They appeared to have a fourth late in the game to take the lead, but upon review, the officials ruled there was a Maine player in the crease and disallowed the goal.
“We’re making everybody’s power play look good,” Parker said. “It was just strictly three individual breakdowns by three guys. Two of them were the exact same breakdown. The weak-side wing didn’t get back low enough so that our one defenseman was outnumbered in the crease and had a two-on-one there.”