Evan Rodrigues Picks Up 100th Career Point in Terriers Win
Its been quite the week for BU left winger Evan Rodrigues.
In last Friday’s 9-5 win over UMass, the senior set a Hockey East record with six assists. He followed that performance up Tuesday night by setting up Danny O’Regan’s game-winning goal in the 3-2 double-overtime victory over Harvard in the Beanpot semi-final.
Friday night he took his hot streak up to Lowell, where he notched his first career hat trick, scoring three goals and four points in the Terriers 5-2 win over two-time defending Hockey East champion UMass-Lowell (16-9-3, 9-6-2 Hockey East). Assisting on Matt Lane’s powerplay goal with 11:45 left in the game, Rodrigues scored his 100th career point. The senior from Etokicoke, Ont. became the first Terrier to hit the century mark since Chris Connolly factored on 129 tallies (39-90) from 2008-12.
“He’s just an incredibly smart player. He works hard, competes, has a great skill-set and can skate,” said head coach David Quinn. “Other than that he can’t really do too much.”
The Terriers (18-4-4, 12-2-2) raced out to a 3-0 lead in the opening 8:16 on two goals from Rodrigues and another from Ahti Oksanen 22 seconds into the contest. Jack Eichel, making his first trip to Lowell (adjacent to his native North Chelmsford), had three assists. John MacLeod, who grew up in nearby Dracut, assisted on the second goal, 3:01 into the game, Rodrigues’ first of the night.
Rodrigues has points in 11 consecutive games going back to December 13 against RPI. He’s posted a 7-20–27 scoring line over that streak. He now has 12 goals and 40 points on the season, tied with Eichel for the national lead in assists (28).
“I think I’ve been playing with two great players of late,” said Rodrigues, referring to Eichel and O’Regan. “I think we’re continuing to play hard and not getting complacent.”
The Terriers top line of Eichel, Rodrigues and O’Regan has been the strength of the club all season and is a big reason why BU is ranked second nationally with a four-point cushion atop the Hockey East standings. The line that accounts for 43.5 percent of the team points had one of its best nights of the season. The unit combined for three goals and nine points on the night, factoring on every goal but Oksanen’s goal 22 seconds into the contest.
“The plan was originally to have them play together when the season started,” said Quinn, who had Oksanen skating with Eichel and O’Regan at the beginning of the season. “Ahti Oksanen has four goals in the first game so I wasn’t going to take him off that line.
At the start [of the season], they were hot for a while. As coaches we’re always tinkering with lines and trying to figure out what the best chemistry is. They cooled off, and I always knew in the back of my mind that Evan would be the left wing on that line.”
BU outplayed the Riverhawks for the first two periods, or at least the first 39:50 of the game, as Quinn put it. With the Terriers up 4-0, Eichel and MacLeod took tripping penalties in the final five seconds of the middle period, giving Lowell a five-on-three powerplay to begin the third period.
The Riverhawks took advantage, getting on the board 1:22 into the final period with C.J. Smith’s 13th goal of the season. Lowell found life, scoring two goals to cut the lead to 4-2 while outshooting BU 6-1 over a span of 6:48.
The momentum shifted back in favor of the Terriers with 13:12 remaining in the game, when Michael Kapla cross-checked Oksanen in the right corner of Lowell’s zone. BU capitalized 1:27 later, when Lane scored to give the Terriers the insurance it needed.
“Really happy with how we played the last six minutes [of the game],” said Quinn. “I thought we did a good job of just keeping things on the perimeter, getting pucks out, they were throwing everything they had. “
Matt O’Connor made 27 saves in net to improve to 15-3-3 on the season.
Up next for the Terriers is the Beanpot final against Northeastern. But with the pot of beans looming over their heads Friday night, the team was sure to remain focused with the task at hand — completing the season sweep of the defending conference champs.
“We made sure in the room that we were focused and weren’t getting ahead of ourselves,” said Rodrigues. “Obviously now that the game’s over, [the Beanpot] is our main focus.”