The Boston University men’s hockey team pulled off quite the unbelievable win on Thursday against Harvard University, scoring three goals within a span of 2:09 in the last four minutes of regulation to win 6-5.
Now that we’ve actually read over the box score and have caught up on that whirlwind of an ending, we’ve also taken some time to reflect on exactly what we liked — and didn’t like — from that game:
Well, these guys certainly like to keep it interesting, to say the least — and they certainly understand that the game isn’t over until it’s over. This win marked the Terriers’ eighth come-from-behind win or tie this year, and fifth win in that situation.
“At 5-3 it’s still a hockey game, you know what I mean?” said BU head coach David Quinn. “Anything can happen, there’s still plenty of time and then you got the goal and then boom. Like I said, I thought we were playing better as the game went on, we just kept playing better and better and we started competing and winning some battles and playing smarter hockey and not trying to make heroic plays.
“We had some really good players make some really good plays to score some goals, and the next thing you know it’s 6-5.”
Starting off the year strong — and moving up the rankings
With the win over an extremely competitive opponent, BU jumped to No. 9 in the Pairwise rankings, and set a positive tone for the team as the second half of the season gets underway.
“Yeah it’s huge, it was a tough schedule to come on after a month off to play … obviously a really good team, such a big win,” said BU senior assistant captain Danny O’Regan. “That would have been a tough one to drop because you know there are games like that that matter most at the end so that was huge for us.”
Happy and healthy
One of the most significant things tonight was that BU returned essentially its entire full, healthy lineup. Sophomore forward Nikolas Olsson, who missed the previous three games after re-aggravating an upper-body injury, joined the lineup again. Senior captain Matt Grzelcyk also returned after missing the past six games with a knee injury.
But perhaps the most triumphant appearance tonight was from senior forward Ahti Oksanen, who suffered an upper-body injury after crashing into the boards against Quinnipiac University on Dec. 12. The damage looked really, really bad at the time, and there were various conflicting reports about the severity of Oksanen’s injury. We were told initially that the team was hopeful for his return after winter break, and it looks like the team got its wish.
Not only did Oksanen return for Thursday’s game, he also came back with a strong showing in the game, including tallying a game-winning goal.
The three guys above were described as “game-time decisions” by Quinn prior to Thursday’s game, but considering how pivotal those players are to BU’s success, it’s an extremely, extremely good thing for BU to see those guys back and performing well.
All of BU’s goals tonight were provided by the senior class. You can read more about the seniors and their leadership in the sider written by our pal Nick, who filled in for Andrew tonight.
I was going to look up how many times we’ve written about sluggish starts, but it would’ve been quite a difficult task to find them all. It goes hand in hand with the amazing comeback — for every comeback, there must be a pretty rough patch in the game.
But BU’s start was rougher than rough. I’d venture to say it was probably the Terriers’ worst start of the season. They were pretty darn lucky they weren’t down by several goals after being outshot 18-2 in the first period.
“Watching what was going on in the first period, I knew it was going to be bad, I just didn’t know it was going to be that bad,” Quinn said.
They weren’t much better in the second period, but they were only outshot 11-8 in that frame.
This is how Quinn described the course of the first two periods:
“When the game started out, we were terrible. As the period went on, we went from terrible to awful, and then we closed the first period out being less awful. When the second period started we were bad, and then we got to not-so-bad and then to okay and then to pretty good.”
Sounds about right. You could probably point to rust or the lack of practice, but that first period was about as bad as we’ve seen BU play all year.
Which brings us to our next point….
Jet lag, or just bad defense?
One of the most significant topics of conversation entering Thursday’s game was the return of several players from the World Juniors Championships. Quinn said that all four Terriers participating in the tournament “got off planes in the last 24 hours,” and O’Regan said that freshman forward Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson didn’t land until earlier on Thursday.
That’s not accounting for three of BU’s defensemen — sophomores Brandon Hickey and Brandon Fortunato and freshman Charlie McAvoy — who all suited up for the Terriers against Harvard.
Quinn said that he didn’t consider benching any of the WJC players, dismissing that particular question in a postgame media scrum with a simple “nope.”
He went on to insist that any issues with the defense weren’t attributed to jet lag or fatigue, however, despite half of the active D having come off a plane in the past 24 hours.
“We turned the puck over an awful lot, and we were slow-thinking,” Quinn said. “We weren’t playing very fast, and that causes a lot of problems. Some of it’s fatigue I’m sure, but it’s also been a problem when guys haven’t come off planes. We’ve got to do a better job of managing the puck, our defensive core has to do a better job managing the puck.”