Boston, MA- Boston University’s hockey team boasts enough talent to rival any national championship contender in the country. However, the puzzle pieces look slightly off-kilter early in the 2019-2020 season. No game demonstrated that more than on Tuesday night when the Sacred Heart Pioneers paid a visit to Agganis Arena. C.J. Marottolo’s squad entered looking for their first win against the Terriers and was successful.
The Terriers dictated the pace early, leading the shot counter 19-12, aided by six shots on two power plays. Between the two unsuccessful advantages, Sacred Heart got their own power play, on which Austin McIlmurray scored his 10th goal of the season to give SHU a lead they would never relinquish. The second period saw no goal scoring with the pace slowed and Sacred Heart still in the 1-0 lead.
Trailing in the third, the Terriers adjusted their lines to spark the offense and promptly put up their weakest period of the season. Sacred Heart doubled up BU on the shot counter 16-8 and got three goals through Sam Tucker. Jason Cotton and Ryan Steele had wristers at the circle and high slot respectively. And with the game decided, and on a power play following a Matthew Quercia charging minor, Vito Bavaro ended the scoring with a power-play goal in the crease. SHU won the game 4-0.
“They outcompeted us” commented Terrier Head Coach Albie O’Connell. “They out-executed and that’s why they won the game. We didn’t have a lot of guys going. We were flat from the drop of the puck. It’s not about who we play, it’s about how we play. We weren’t very willing to play competitive, we weren’t willing to go to the net. Looked like we’d never played a game together. Look like we’d never been coached. It’s about as bad as we’ve been since I’ve been here.”
Captain Patrick Curry echoed his head coach’s sentiments. “It’s really upsetting to have an effort like that, especially at home. I just think mentally the whole team wasn’t there. I think we maybe looked past our opponent.”
Sam Tucker stopped 32 of 36 shots.
BU drops to 4-5-5.
The Terriers have to turn the corner quickly. On Saturday, they travel to New York City to face the Cornell Big Red at Madison Square Garden in the biennial Red Hot Hockey game. Captain Patrick Curry described that experience as “It feels like you’re playing in the NHL for a night.”
Sacred Heart improves to 8-6-1.
“It was probably our most complete 60 minutes of our season so far,” said SHU Head Coach CJ Marottolo. “You got a bunch of guys on the visiting side who are happy tonight. They’re gonna enjoy Thanksgiving, I can tell you that.”
Eight different players contributed to the scoring. That depth has Sacred Heart near the top of the collegiate scoring rate, standing as the seventh-best scoring offense (3.67 Goals For/Game), tied with the Massachusetts Minutemen. Some individuals have stood out. Jason Cotton and Austin McIlmurray are tied for second in the nation for goal scoring with 10. Defenseman Mike Lee had two assists against BU for a season total of 15, holding sole possession of third in the nation for all players behind Minnesota Duluth’s Scott Perunovich (18) and Providence’s Jack Dugan (23).
Josh Benson stopped all 36 shots he faced for his second career shutout.
The Pioneers return to Atlantic Hockey conference play with a road trip to Springfield to play the defending AHA Champion American International College Yellow Jackets on Tuesday, December 3rd. Puck drops at the Mass Mutual Center at 7:05 pm ET.