BOSTON – Some of hockey’s future stars were on display in a rare Sunday night game as the U.S. National Under-18 Team paid a visit to Agganis Arena for am exhibition match-up against the No. 10/11 Boston University Terriers.
The Stars and Stripes were 7-4 winners at Northeastern’s Matthews Arena on Saturday night and this evening’s game proved to be much more of a contest for both sides as the squads skated to a 3-3 tie in front of 4,040 fans.
“In general, I thought we played well, they played well,” said BU head coach Jack Parker. “It was a fun game to watch. If I had one negative thing to say about my team, it is that we did not shoot the puck enough… We had the puck a lot and over-handled it and tried to get something fine.”
The visitors got off to a fast start as Terrier commit Matt Lane roofed a loose puck over the shoulder of senior netminder Grant Rollheiser just 4:49 into the contest. Lane, a native of Rochester, N.Y., started the game with a pair of fellow Hockey East recruits and scored his eighth of the season.
BU scored three straight goals to close off the opening period, including a one-time deflection by freshman Alexx Privitera at 8:13 – his second goal in as many games.
“We moved the puck well on the power play,” said Parker. “Then we wanted to get the perfect one…I was not disappointed with the power play because we were moving it, but we were not as hungry. If that were next week, we could not play like that. We’d have to go get the puck.”
Another Terrier rookie Evan Rodrigues was instrumental in BU’s tying goal as he steamrolled past a pair of USA defenseman and dished to sophomore Matt Nieto for the goal at 13:18.
Just 18 seconds later, the Terriers extended their lead to two goals when junior defenseman Sean Escobedo blasted a one-time slapper past American goaltender Jared Rutledge (Michigan commit).
Team USA cut the deficit to one goal on a strong individual effort by Stefan Matteau (North Dakota), driving to the net and potting a rebound past Rollheiser for his tenth strike of the season – a power-play goal at 11:58.
After BU handily held a 17-7 shots edge after one period, the teams were even 13-13 in the second. BU managed just two more total chances in the middle stanza, after a 26-14 edge in the first.
Uncommitted extra forward Nikolas Olsson tied things with 12:00 left in regulation, sniping high-glove side on Rollheiser on a wrist shot from the slot for his fifth goal and sixth point of the season.
Overall in the contest, the Terriers mustered 82 chances to 58 by the young American squad. They held a 48-33 shots on goal edge as well. Rollheiser made an even 30 saves, including 12 in the second period. Rutledge made a very strong 45 stops and had a solid game through the entire 60-minute effort.
“I thought at times he may have played a little rusty,” Parker said of his senior back-up netminder. “But in general, I thought he played very well. It was not an easy game to play because it was down the other end a lot…I thought he came up with some big saves, especially after they made it 3-2.”
The Terriers return to the ice next Friday night when they travel across town to face rival Northeastern for the first time this season in a NESN-televised contest at historic Matthews Arena.