Boston MA – This winter hasn’t felt that cold in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The team on Commonwealth Avenue was especially hot most of this month, winning eight in a row and not even trailing in a game for 7 consecutive games. This week, a January chill befell the Boston University Terriers. They traveled to Merrimack College on Tuesday night and lost 3-1 at Lawler Arena. With a chance to even the series at Agganis Arena tonight, the Terriers met an even worse fate, losing to the Merrimack Warriors 4-1 and losing an important player in the process.
The first period was even on the scoreboard, but lopsided in chances for BU. Charlie McAvoy was called for his fourth penalty in two games against the Warriors and Brett Seney made him pay for it, scoring only 35 seconds into the power play. BU responded with a power play goal of their own shortly thereafter. Ludvig Larsson was called for a tripping penalty, and Clayton Keller netted a shot from the left circle only 15 seconds into the power play. The rest of the period was dominated by BU. Merrimack only got four shots on net, while BU had 16 shots in the period. Collin Delia played a phenomenal game in net, making every save after Keller’s goal. His performance gave the Warriors some momentum, and they took full advantage in the second period.
Merrimack started controlling the pace of play in the second period, getting to their game of neutral zone takeaways and speed. They peppered Jake Oettinger with shots and were rewarded when Brett Seney got his second goal of the game, and put his team ahead 2-1. The goal was the first even strength goal allowed by Oettinger in 237:17. That goal felt like icing on an already painful period for BU.
Nikolas Olsson Injured
With just over half of the period to play, Nikolas Olsson went in hot pursuit of the puck in his own defensive end. He picked it up and immediately got decked by Ryan Cook. Olsson could not skate off under his own power and he had to be helped by teammates to get to the bench. Considering his toughness, importance to the team, and injury history, that was a hit the team could ill afford to take. They played a step slower the rest of the game, with the third period being the weakest period from the Terriers this season.
At 4:53, Alex Carle was called for a boarding penalty and BU looked to tie the game on a power play. 18 seconds into the power play, Dante Fabbro misplayed a puck passed into their defensive zone. Michael Babcock got behind him, got a one on chance against Oettinger and beat him glove side, making the score 3-1. Babcock got a second goal near the halfway mark of the period, and silenced the Agganis Arena crowd with a convincing 4-1 victory.
Merrimack doubled their win Hockey East win total in two games, adding four impressive points to their season, sweeping Boston University for the first time in a season, and proving that Hockey East is a brutal conference from top to bottom. Merrimack head coach Mark Dennehy credited BU as a difficult team to prepare for and a talented unit. He praised his players for handling the pressure of playing the top ranked Boston University Terriers incredibly well, and praised the development of his team. Michael Babcock and Brett Seney were asked about their team’s game plan, and explained that they were banking on their speed and it worked for them. They outskated and out sped the Terriers, and downplayed the game tonight, knowing that the rest of their schedule will be a tough time.
Quinn Disgusted with Team’s Effort
Terrier coach David Quinn was visibly disgusted by his team’s performance and hustle for the second consecutive game. He credited Merrimack as the better, harder working team for the second consecutive game. He loudly criticized his team for trying to play sexy hockey and make the pretty shots and passes, instead of making the ugly plays and getting dirty in front of the net. “We wanted it easy tonight. We wanted to look like a Harlem Globetrotter and make pretty plays.” When asked about Olsson’s injury, any bitterness and annoyance left Coach’s face, replaced instead by sadness and two words: “Not good”. His injury wasn’t disclosed fully, just that it was a severe injury.
BU still has a chance to salvage some points out of the weekend. They face the 7th ranked UMass Lowell River Hawks at Agganis Arena Saturday night. Puck drops at 7:30.