The Boston University Terriers played host to the Minnesota State University Mavericks Friday night in the first of a two-game series being played at Agganis Arena. The two teams have never competed against each other before.
The first period of the game between the Terriers and the Mavericks was an array of penalties, with the first one coming just 26 seconds into the game, as Connor Mackey was whistled for interference. The Terriers would convert as Shane Bowers got his third goal of the season, with assists to Hank Crone and Brady Tkachuk. At 4:01 of the period, it would be BU’s turn to sit and reflect when Tkachuk got called on a crosscheck. The Mavericks would tie the game just 20 seconds into their man advantage, as Zeb Knutson potted the goal assisted by C.J. Suess and Daniel Brickley. It would be less than a minute of even strength play before Max Coatta would go to the box for hitting from behind. This time the Terriers would fail to convert. Thirty seconds after the Mavericks made that kill, they would find themselves again down a man as Nick Rivera was sent off for holding. This time BU would find the back of the net with the goal going to Jordan Greenway, assisted by Bobo Carpenter and Chad Krys. Brickley and Logan Cockerill would spend four minutes each in their respective penalty boxes. Brickley was called for hitting after the whistle and roughing, while Cockerill received two for hitting after the whistle and two for unsportsmanlike conduct. Two more penalties would be handed out in the opening frame as MSU’s Charlie Gerard was whistled for a tripping at 11:18 and 48 seconds later, BU’s Bobo Carpenter would head off for hooking. The Mavericks would tie things up at 16:38 with Brickley getting an unassisted goal.
As the teams returned to play during the second period, while there were less special teams, it was also clear that the Terriers were struggling to play to their identity. The Mavericks would get the go-ahead goal 3:40 into the frame from Charlie Gerard, with assists going to Rivera and Brickley. As Greenway sat in the box for a slash just over five minutes into the period, MSU would score off the faceoff as Ian Scheid got his first of the season assisted by Brad McClure and Jake Jeremko. BU would end up down a man again five minutes into the period as Brandon Hickey was whistled for interference, but the Terriers would make the kill.
The Terriers spent a lot of the first half of the middle frame contained in their own end as the lopsided period continued. It wasn’t until there was about five minutes remaining in the period that it looked like the Terriers might be re-finding their identity. Perhaps it had something to do with the fifth goal scored by MSU as Riese Zmolek earned his first goal of the season, with assists credited to Gerard and Brickley. The Terriers got their third from Bowers—his second of the game, assisted by Tkachuk and Hickey. The third penalty of the period was called on Scheid who received two for hooking at 17:10. Once again BU failed to convert.
For Connor LaCouvee, who was once again between the pipes at Agganis Arena, it was a bit different. This time he was entering the ice from the other bench—having joined Minnesota State University (Mankato) for his senior year after suiting up for the Terriers the previous three. He described the experience as surreal, but said he had approached the game like any other. He was quick to acknowledge and appreciate the applause he had received as he was announced as the starting goaltender. Even if he was playing for the other team, he was still appreciated by those dressed in the scarlet and white. It looked like perhaps his former teammates had his number, scoring two on him before the first period was half over, however, he would then deny the Terriers another opportunity for 30 minutes, when Bowers capitalized on his doorstep.
“I think I just tried to settle in. I was moving around a little too much there,” LaCouvee said after the game. “It’s kind of tough I think to start a game with all those penalties there too, it kind of upsets the flow of the game.”
For the next 50 minutes, they played men’s hockey and we played boys’ hockey. – Coach Quinn
At the other end of the ice, Jake Oettinger, playing his second year of collegiate hockey, would actually keep the Mavericks from running away with the game. When the horn sounded to end regulation, he would have seen 45 shots, stopping 39—a lot of rubber to see in your home barn.
Despite the brief rally in the second period, the Terriers never would regain control of the game, ultimately losing 6-3 when Jared Spooner deflated the Terriers to get the Mavericks their sixth at 9:31 of the last twenty. It was Spooner’s first of the season assisted by Marc Michaelis and Knutson. BU would continue to be outplayed and outshot throughout the final period, with many of their passes being intercepted as they tried to stretch them out. They would be caught puck watching and seem unable to beat the Mavericks to the loose pucks. In the end only Oettinger would be given any praise by Terriers Head Coach David Quinn postgame.
“We looked like we’d never played d-zone coverage before. Just no urgency, and they beat us to a lot of loose pucks,” Quinn lamented. “I’d be hard-pressed to find five guys that played well for us tonight. I’m concerned with giving up 45 shots at home and giving up six goals. And our goalie played very well. You can’t say that very often.”
Quinn went on to describe the many ways the team had gotten completely away from the mindset and game identity they had for those first ten minutes or so. The mindset that earned them their first two goals of the game and had them narrowly outshooting the Mavericks at the end of the opening frame.
“We’ll see how we react to our first sign of adversity,” Quinn elaborated. “That’s the key. How do you respond to it? Good news, it happened on a Friday night. We get to come back [on Saturday] and see how we do respond.”
The teams will return to Agganis Arena on Saturday night for a rematch. For the Terriers, it is a chance at vindication. At the very least it is a chance to show that they are second-ranked for a reason and that their breakdowns in almost all areas on Friday night were the exception rather than the rule.