Boston, MA — The Boston University Hockey season has been a roller coaster. BU won their first two games, fell on hard times in November, ended the first semester by smashing Lowell, and opened 2018 with a troubling loss to Maine.
Since then, the Terriers have corrected course and shown the skill they promised at the season’s outset.
“We need to have urgency because we don’t have time,” said Head Coach David Quinn. “We’ve created a situation where every second counts if we’re gonna achieve the things we want to achieve.”
BU took another step toward accomplishing their goals with a 4-3 victory Friday night over the Merrimack College Warriors in North Andover on Friday night. On Saturday, the teams rematched at Agganis to close the weekend.
The first period was low in shots but high in the pace of skating and hitting. Each team only got eight shots. The hits were aplenty and so were the penalties; five players sat in the box in the first period.
Merrimack could not capitalize on their advantage opportunities. BU did. Just after the midway point of the first, Brett Seney took a hooking penalty. Less than a minute into the power play, Brady Tkachuk got the puck to the left side of the crease and tried to backhand the puck across the crease for a pass. Instead, the puck found its way between Warrior goalie Drew Vogler’s legs and into the net for a Terrier lead.
Merrimack got some pressure late in the period, but couldn’t beat Jake Oettinger. BU took a 1-0 lead into the first intermission.
The offenses opened up in the second period. Merrimack barely won the shot total 11-10, but BU controlled much of the period. Early in the frame, Shane Bowers and Bobo Carpenter got a two on one situation. Bowers saucered the puck through a Warrior defender and Carpenter finished the play with the one-timer. BU was up 2-0. but Merrimack did not stop attacking.
Late in the frame, Merrimack got a breakaway of their own. With 1:26 left in the second, Ludvig Larsson completed the rush with his eighth goal of the season. On that same play, Dante Fabbro took a roughing penalty. Merrimack went to the power play with a chance to tie. BU’s defense killed the penalty and took a 2-1 lead into the final period.
BU’s discipline fell apart with four penalties in the third period. Fortunately, their penalty kill was excellent, killing all four third period infractions and all seven power plays for the game. Their own power play was effective.
Midway through the period, Michael Babcock took a hooking penalty. The ensuing man advantage saw perfect passing that ended with Jordan Greenway finding Bobo Carpenter for his second goal of the game.
Merrimack kept firing to keep close, but again, failed to beat Jake Oettinger. The sophomore Terrier netminder stopped 26 of 27 possible shots and backstopped his team to their second straight win, a 3-1 victory over Merrimack.
Warrior Head Coach Mark Dennehy was disappointed after the game.
“We just didn’t execute. You’ve gotta tip your cap to BU, but at the end of the day, we didn’t do what we needed to.”
Merrimack drops to 7-13-4 overall and 4-9-2 in Hockey East. The Warriors return home next weekend for a series with the Vermont Catamounts. Puck drops at 7 pm on both Friday and Saturday night at Lawler Arena in North Andover, MA.
David Quinn expressed pride in his team but concern about a few details. “Feels good to get four points on the weekend. Our special teams were the difference tonight. Happy for our guys. You can’t take seven penalties and expect to win a hockey game, though.”
BU climbs to 11-11-2 overall and 9-7-2 in conference. The Terriers are tied with Providence for third place in Hockey East.
Next weekend will find BU in the desert. The Terriers travel to Arizona to face the Arizona State Sun Devils for two games. Puck drops at 7:05 pm Mountain Time on both Friday and Saturday night. Friday’s game is at the Gila River Arena and Saturday’s is at the Oceanside Ice Palace.