BOSTON – Despite the loss of top forwards Corey Trivino and Charlie Coyle, the Boston University Terriers returned to old form in their second game without the duo and defeated the Merrimack Warriors to the tune of 4-2 on Friday night at Agganis Arena.
“It’s definitely great for us,” said Terrier junior and Dallas Stars draft choice Alex Chiasson. “You can see right after the game, everyone had a smile on their face…It was definitely a tough time for myself and my teammates. It’s great that we’re getting together and realizing we’re good enough to be successful this year.”
Following a 21-day break, the Terriers came out flat in a 5-2 loss at Notre Dame on New Year’s Eve, but followed it up with a complete effort in the team’s first home game since Dec. 3 – a 6-1 loss at the hands of archrival and then No. 2 Boston College.
“In general, I thought it was a really thorough game to watch,” said Jack Parker about his team’s performance. “I thought it was a real good game to watch, both teams played pretty well…There were some good chances and some good opportunities.”
“I was really pleased that we had a really solid effort. I thought that we really needed a win to make us feel like we are OK and that we have a good team still. When you can beat Merrimack and get four goals against them…you are telling yourself you can be a real good hockey club.”
In the contest on the whole, the Warriors out-shot the host Terriers by a 44-36 count, but it was not enough to earn the program’s twelfth win of the season.
The two teams combined for four goals in the first period, including three in the early going in the span of just 61 seconds. Merrimack opened the scoring on Josh Myers’ first-collegiate goal at the 4:31 mark as he potted a rebound off a pass from sophomore Mike Collins.
BU then rattled off three goals in a row, beginning with one from junior Justin Courtnall just 14 seconds after Myers’ tally. He took a pass from rookie Cason Hohmann and picked his own rebound to pot past Merrimack’s Joe Cannata.
“I thought the biggest goal of the game was Justin Courtnall’s,” Parker added. “Answering seconds after they score. We are wondering who we are and all of a sudden, they score and we come right back and get one. That was huge.”
At the 5:30 mark, a pair of upperclassmen paired up on the go-ahead score for the Warriors as Chris Connolly fed junior Alex Chiasson between the circles for a pretty power-play passing sequence that gave BU the one-goal lead.
The Terriers had a strong chance to make it a two-goal advantage when Cannata padded away a rebound by junior Ryan Santana with a few minutes remaining. BU did extend their lead at the 18:27 mark of the contest when rookie Alexx Privitera’s sliding shot on the left wing beat Cannata, who was tied up on the opposite side of the crease.
“We did not play well enough to win,” said Merrimack head coach Mark Dennehy. “I thought we made some glaring mistakes, especially early on that ended up costing us.”
“Hockey East is as tight as its ever been and I think we say that every year, but I think every year it gets tighter. You really have to pay attention to details, because if you do not dot an ‘I’ or cross a ‘T’ and it ends up in the back of the net. Those are tough to get.”
The three goals allowed by Merrimack in the first period were the most in a single opening 20-minute stretch since Feb. 23, 2010.
After a wild first 20 minutes, the goaltenders took over and made several key stops to keep the score close during the second period. Despite a 22-16 advantage in total chances, the Terriers held a 12-10 edge in shots on goal.
Merrimack made things interesting at the 9:45 mark of the stanza as junior blue liner Kyle Bigos crossed to the high slot and roofed a rifle of a shot over Millan’s shoulder to bring the score to 3-2.
The Terrier lead extended to two goals again at the 17:23 mark as Max Nicastro pinched the left wing side and fired to sophomore Sahir Gill for a rocket one-timer between the circles for the score.
In the second, both teams attempted 18 total chances as Merrimack held a 14-10 margin in shots on goal.
Merrimack spent a strong chunk of time in the offensive zone during the third period, but could not bust one in on Millan as BU held on for its third win in four games. Millan played a very strong game for the Terriers, making 42 stops between the pipes.
The effort was the senior’s ninth win of the season and was just two stops shy of tying his career-best mark of 44 set last season at New Hampshire.
BU takes Saturday off and will return to the ice on Sunday evening during an exhibition contest against the U.S. Under-18 Team at Agganis Arena.
Merrimack plays a huge game on Sunday afternoon when the Warriors return to Commonwealth Avenue to face Boston College at Kelley Rink in a rematch of last season’s Hockey East Championship. The meeting will be the first of the season between the teams.