On Friday night, the Boston University Terriers fell to the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and lost their chance to win the Hockey East regular season title outright. When the teams met again in Boston on Saturday, Notre Dame could win the title outright and BU could win a share of the crown, sharing it with Boston College and UMass Lowell. With the backdrop set, the teams staged a physical and emotional game, the likes of which defines Hockey East play. Boston ultimately found the toughness needed to beat the Irish 4-1.
The game did not start off well for the Terriers. Notre Dame outshot the Terriers 13-11 in the opening frame and beat the Terriers to most pucks. Jake Oettinger made the needed saves to keep the game alive for BU, but their shots didn’t land. Notre Dame also got fortunate bounces. With five minutes to play in the first period, Mike O’Leary got in front of Oettinger and mashed the puck. It bounced its way in and the officials called it a goal, giving the Irish a 1-0 lead that they would hold for the rest of the frame.
The teams carried physical play from Friday into Saturday. The officials struggled to get the players under control through the first period. The teams ended many plays trading shoves, hits, punches, and in scrums in each other’s net. Patrick Curry and Andrew Peeke were called for matching roughing calls near the halfway point of the period.
The hits kept coming as the period wound down, and one of the last confrontations of the frame sparked controversy. With 49.5 seconds left, the whistle blew. Dennis Gilbert crosschecked Nick Roberto. Jordan Greenway skated over to protect his teammate. The officials separated all the players, and incorrectly called Jordan Greenway for a roughing penalty. The fans at Agganis Arena yelled their disapproval at the officials as the Terriers killed the penalty off.
Terrier coach David Quinn was asked about Greenway’s play that opens him up for more penalties and he vented his frustrations at the call while praising his sophomore’s physicality. “I want him going down there and getting mauled, mauling our opponents and pissing people off. He’s at his best when he does that and I want him to play that way.”
The Greenway call seemed to rally the Terriers. After they killed the penalty, the shots were even between the teams, but BU controlled the rhythm of the game. As the halfway point of the game approached, Luke Ripley was called for a charging penalty. BU’s power play, which Quinn called last night amateur, moved the puck well and created good shots. Kieffer Bellows took a rebound and put it by Irish netminder Cal Petersen to tie the game on that power play. Seven minutes of play went by and defenseman John MacLeod fired a laser blast from the blue line that found twine and gave BU a 2-1 lead. The momentum carried into the third period.
— BU Men's Hockey (@TerrierHockey) February 26, 2017
Notre Dame played well in the third, getting 14 shots to the net and getting good saves out of their goalie. Unfortunately for them, Oettinger saved every shot he saw in the period. Freshman sensation Clayton Keller also took over in the period. Less than five minutes into the 3rd, he tipped home a Dante Fabbro shot to put BU up 3-1. In the final five minutes of the game, Keller took a pass from Bobo Carpenter, deked, shot, and scored to put BU up 4-1. BU never let Notre Dame back into the game and claimed a share of the Conference regular season title.
With the win, BU tied UMass-Lowell and Boston College with 29 points. Notre Dame finished 4th with 28 points on the season. All those teams earned first round byes in the Hockey East Tournament. They will all host the second round of the tournament at their respective rinks in two weeks. The opponents will be determined via the opening rounds of the tournament next weekend.