The Boston University Terriers played host to the Merrimack College Warriors on Friday night, in their second meeting of the week. The first of this two-game series took place on Tuesday in North Andover at Lawler Rink and saw the Warriors end the Terriers eight-game winning streak, as they notched three goals to the Terriers one that night.
It was clear from the pushing, shoving, and after whistle festivities that memories of Tuesday’s tilt were still uppermost in the players’ minds. The first penalty, an interference, would be called on Terrier, and Boston Bruins prospect, Charlie McAvoy 5:50 into the period and it would cost the Terriers. Junior forward Brett Seney, would put the Warriors on the scoreboard, 35 seconds into their power play. However, the Terriers would respond with emotion and continued physicality and approximately two minutes later would get their own man advantage. Ludvig Larsson, the sophomore from Malmo, Sweden, would get whistled for tripping. Clayton Keller would take a solid pass from fellow freshman Patrick Harper, to tie it 14 seconds in. The second assist would go to McAvoy, perhaps redeeming himself for his earlier penalty.
The one thing that no one ever wants to see though is a serious injury to one of the players, which unfortunately was the case as Nikolas Olsson ended up sprawled on the ice to the left of Warrior netminder Collin Delia. As he tried to get up, it was soon vividly apparent that he was in a tremendous amount of pain. The trainer rushed out to attend to him and then two of Olsson’s teammates helped get him up and off the ice with what looked to be a serious leg injury. Post game, Terriers head coach David Quinn, while not going into specifics, corroborated that indeed it was a bad injury.
The second period picked up just where it left off in the first, with the Terriers controlling much of the play by hemming in the Warriors in their own end for significant zone time, but as the period went along, it was clear that Merrimack was beginning to gain traction and take control of the game. By the time the buzzer sounded, it would be Merrimack College leading 2-1, as Seney got his second of the game (eighth on the season) at 12:51 of the middle frame. The period would not be without its pushing and shoving and a couple of penalties. BU’s Brandon Hickey would get whistled at 9:23 for an interference call, but Warrior Mathieu Tibbet would also sit for two for an embellishment call—a penalty called much more at the collegiate level than seen in the pro leagues. Merrimack’s Johnathan Kovacevic would sit for a slash as the clock ticked under the five-minute mark when the Terriers had done a good job of getting in low in the offensive zone.
Perhaps it was the knowledge that their teammate was badly hurt. Perhaps they had let it go to their head that they were in the number one spot of the USCHO poll for the first time in a long time. Given how many players from BU who were on the gold medal-winning Team USA at the IIHF World Junior Championships, perhaps it was a hangover from the energy they had expended in that tournament, or the idea that with gold medals they were at the top of the pile. It could even have been, as Coach Quinn tried to joke after the loss, that one of the players broke up with his girlfriend. After all, they are young men. Whatever it was, the third period saw Merrimack take control and the wheels fall off the Terriers’ wagon.
In the third period, as Alex Carle sat in the box for a boarding call, the Terriers had an opportunity to possibly tie the game and give themselves a chance. Instead, 18 seconds into the man advantage, it was Michael Babcock of the Warriors who went glove side high with the shorthander to make the score 3-1 with less than 15 minutes remaining in regulation. Coach Quinn seemed to feel that was kind of the nail in the coffin with his players and their effort. Just a little more than four minutes later Babcock would net his second of the game at 9:31 of that period.
As the last second ticked off the clock and the buzzer signaled the end, the Merrimack College Warriors had achieved their first ever regular-season series sweep of the Boston University Terriers. And while the Merrimack players knew where BU was ranked, and certainly had received some confidence and some happiness after the win on Tuesday, they shelved that as they left the locker room Tuesday night and showed up at Agganis Arena Friday night ready to work and bring a strong effort. They were rewarded.
The Terriers? Well, Coach Quinn called the night disappointing, and it was clear from his post game comments that he felt the team had not brought their best effort and had returned to some bad habits. He doesn’t have much time to coach that out of them, as they return to the Agganis Arena ice on Saturday night as BU hosts UMass Lowell River Hawks (who also lost their game Friday night).