When two of the top Hockey East teams get together, entertaining hockey is a guarantee. With a chance for the Hockey East regular season championship on the line, the intensity will only go up. That was the background when the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and the Boston University Terriers faced off in Boston on Friday night. After BC fell to Lowell, BU held their destiny in their hands. All they needed to do was get three points against the 13th ranked Irish and the title would be theirs. Of course, that is easier said than done.
BU and Notre Dame matched each other blow for blow through a tough first period. BU got the first two shots of the game and Notre Dame couldn’t get a shot off for the first five minutes. Once they got shooting, they took control of the period. Notre Dame got 10 shots on goal in the period while BU only got five.
Near the halfway point, the Irish took a lead on Jake Evans’ shot from the left circle. As the period wound down, BU found the equalizer when Patrick Harper tipped home a Clayton Keller blue line shot. The game went to the intermission even 1-1.
As even as the first period was, the second period was even closer. Both teams took 10 shots in the period and both teams had chances to score. The puck bounced all over the ice, including on top of the Terrier net, and the fans had a good game to watch.
Both coaches praised he goaltending from Notre Dame’s Cal Petersen and BU’s Jake Oettinger. The consensus was that both goaltenders made incredible saves and gave their team a chance to win.
Unfortunately for BU, controversy struck. With less than two minutes to go in the second period, Notre Dame created a shot in front and Ben Ostlie took the rebound and put a backhand shot by Oettinger. Initially, the play was not called a goal. The officials called it interference. However, upon review, the officials determined it was a good goal and Ostlie was rewarded with his first goal of the season.
Terrier Coach David Quinn was offered an explanation as to the ruling, but turned it down because “It wouldn’t have made any difference.”
Quinn’s Terriers played aggressive and desperate for a goal in the third period. They peppered Petersen with 23 shots in the period and made life hard for him.
Unfortunately, this is the same goalie that had a 39 save shutout against the Terriers last year and he was on against BU again. He saved all 23 shots he saw in the third period and BU never found the equalizer. They also failed to get back on defense, allowing a two on one and as captain Doyle Somerby put it, “left Jake (Oettinger) out to dry.
Jake Evans scored his second goal of the game in the waning minutes and made it a 3-1 Irish lead. BU kept fighting and came close to scoring, including a few missed shots on backhanders with the net open by Patrick Curry and Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson.
Unfortunately, more controversy followed. The officials were quick with the whistle, considering how chippy the game was getting, and BU felt that they lost scoring chances because of it.
One particular chance saw a whistle blow when the puck was three feet away from the goaltender. Quinn declined to comment more than that the whistles were fast because he didn’t want to take away from Notre Dame’s effort in their 3-1 victory over the Terriers.
The teams will play one more time tomorrow night at Agganis Arena for the final regular season game of the year for both sides. Notre Dame can win the Hockey East regular season title outright and clinch the top seed in the conference tournament with a win. BU can clinch a share of the title with BC and Lowell and wrap up the second seed with a victory. Puck drops at 7 PM on Commonwealth Avenue.