Once again the Boston University Terriers came out timid in the first period. As head coach David Quinn alluded to postgame, in the three games his team has played at TD Garden this season (two for the Beanpot and Friday’s semifinal against the Wildcats), they have not come out strong. He’s not sure if that’s due to nerves or youth, as he has a number of freshmen, but it is something he needs to address and try and correct before the puck drops in the championship game Saturday night.
Terriers goaltender Matt O’Connor was credited by his coach with keeping his team in the game through that first period so they could come back and have a chance. Though the shot difference wasn’t large in the first—UNH had 11 and BU had eight—it was more where the University of New Hampshire was getting their shots that kept O’Connor so busy. Only three of the Wildcats’ shots weren’t right in front of O’Connor. Of the six defenseman that Quinn dressed, four were freshmen and that may have explained some of their hesitancy.
On the other end of the ice, the Terriers were not getting as quality chances, making it easier for freshman Daniel Tirone to see them. And when a goalie can see the puck he almost always stops it.
Like in the first game between the University of Massachusetts Lowell River Hawks and the University of Vermont Catamounts where the Cats were dominant in the faceoff, the same would ultimately be true for the Terriers (6-6 in the first, 20-14 by the second and 33-23 at the end of the game). However the Terriers would end up being outshot much less than the Catamounts.
Everyone was expecting great things from BU’s top line of Evan Rodrigues, Jack Eichel and Danny O’Regan. They would combine for seven shots in the game with two of Eichel’s scoring. However they were not dominant in this game. Eichel’s first goal was a great one from a hockey IQ standpoint as he hung near the net. His second one was an empty netter.
If the Terriers want to beat the River Hawks Saturday night, they will need to hit the ice with force from the first puck drop to the last. While O’Connor is talented, he is not impenetrable. The River Hawks are hard playing and will find ways to capitalize.
Friday night’s tilt with the Wildcats did show that the Terriers are resilient. Despite UNH scoring first, it was the Terriers who were able to score with just 2:22 remaining in the first, allowing them to carry that momentum into the second period—the only period the Terriers outshot the Wildcats, in fact.
As the second frame began, there was some question who would manage to get their team a go ahead goal. Both teams would have to wait until almost the halfway point in the period and the game for Chase Phelps of the Terriers to get his team up by a goal. It was the second goal of the season for Phelps. He was assisted by Nick Roberto and Mike Moran.
Both of Eichel’s goals would come in the second half of the third period with a lot of north and south play filling the time until then. And despite being down a goal the Wildcats would once again outshoot the Terriers in the third.
Like Kevin Sneddon did in the first game, head coach Dick Umile of the Wildcats pulled Tirone with considerable time remaining—Colorado Avalanche’s head coach Patrick Roy’s aggressiveness in this manner has filtered to the college level. However, the Terriers would find the back of the net just 36 seconds after Tirone vacated his posts.
Boston University’s win puts them in the championship game against the University of Massachusetts Lowell River Hawks. The Hawks are hoping to garner their third consecutive win in the Hockey East Championship, achieved only once before by the Boston College Eagles over the 2010 to 2012 seasons. Both teams will definitely be coming out hard.