The University of Massachusetts Amherst gave the No. 9 Boston University men’s hockey team quite the challenge in the first game of the Hockey East Tournament, pushing BU into an overtime contest. Ultimately, though, the Terriers earned a 2-1 victory to take a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three series at Agganis Arena on Friday night.
There were a couple things we didn’t like, but a whole, whole, whole lot of things we really, really, really didn’t like. Here’s just a sampling:
My pretty immediate reaction after the game is that my only plus on the night was for freshman forward Bobo Carpenter. Judy has more about his two-goal night in her sidebar.
Maguire in OT
After immediately feeling like Carpenter was the only good thing about BU in Friday’s game, I decided that was an unfair sentiment toward senior goaltender Sean Maguire, who had some mindblowing saves in overtime — including one on a delayed penalty where he dove in front of a wide-open net and made a blocker save to keep the score knotted.
“I thought the game was over,” said BU coach David Quinn. “He makes a phenomenal save to allow us to regroup.”
Twenty-eight saves on 29 shots isn’t too shabby of a night, either. His save percentage on the year is now at .930 and his goals-against average sits at 2.09.
It’s hard to pinpoint exactly how lightly the Terriers were taking UMass entering this game, considering they’d beaten them by scores of 7-2 and 6-3 already this season.
You could point to the fact that it’s a playoff game, a fresh start, where UMass has nothing to lose. But BU showed next to no urgency through the first two periods — looking like, quite possibly, they have have underestimated just how hard the Minutemen would come out in this game.
Here’s what Quinn had to say:
“Well, they’re 18-to-22-year-olds, and you beat a team 7-2 and 6-3 and there’s 700 people in the building,” Quinn said. “I without question thought that human nature was a factor in the first two periods from our end of it.
“That being said, I thought they played very well. They played hard, they were physical, they blocked a ton of shots, so I don’t want to discredit the way UMass played.”
Here’s Carpenter’s take:
“I don’t think so, I just think it’s playoff hockey,” he said. “And everyone’s got a chip on their shoulder to get the championship. I think the rest of the games are going to be the same way, everyone’s going to give it their best so they don’t end their season early.”
And here’s senior forward Ahti Oksanen’s take:
“That’s what coach told us too, just that obviously we really destroyed them the first two games,” Oksanen said. “So it might’ve been that we started a little slow and thought that would be just an easy game for us, but obviously that wasn’t the truth.”
Couldn’t solve Renyard — or get a rebound
While Maguire had a good night, UMass goalie Nic Renyard’s was even better. He had a career-best 46 saves in the game, and BU couldn’t figure out how to get past him, save for some great play by Carpenter.
That being said, Renyard left plenty of rebounds up for grabs in the slot, however, and BU couldn’t seem to capitalize, as nobody was ever in the right position. Forty-eight shots on goal is an impressive number, but there were even more chances there that the Terriers couldn’t seem to grasp.
BU had three total shots on three power plays.
That really says it all, but Oksanen had more to say about what’s going wrong on the power play, which hasn’t been right for quite some time. They’ve gotten just one power-play goal in seven attempts over the past three games.
“That’s a good question, if we know what we’re doing wrong, we would change it right away,” Oksanen said. “But … I guess we’re a little much in so-called ‘power-play mode,’ just not playing normal hockey. We have our setup, and we just stand there, and not really do anything. We just need to play simple hockey and get the puck in.”
Basically — too much passing, not enough shooting.
Quinn exaggerated a bit when he said that there were only 700 people in the building, but just 1,752 fans showed up to Agganis Arena on Friday night, which, according to BU Sports Information Director Brian Kelley, is the lowest total in building history for a men’s hockey game.
That can probably be partially attributed to the fact that spring break is underway for BU students. Regardless, though, even though it’s UMass and only a first-round matchup — yikes. This weekend’s the last time BU will play at home this year, so just a bit unfortunate.
Last home game with the three of us
Andrew’s headed off for spring vacation, so he’ll miss tomorrow’s game — thus making Friday night the last time all three of us will cover a game together at Agganis Arena. We’ll have our friend Nick Frazier helping us out tomorrow, but regardless, sad to see our last time together at a place with many, many good memories.