Terriers head into Beanpot with win
Sometimes it’s not how, it’s just how many.
The phrase applied to the BU men’s hockey team Friday night, who got two points in ugly fashion against the last place UMass Minutemen, 9-5, in the final game before the Beanpot, which begins Monday at the TD Garden.
“Surely an entertaining game,” said BU head coach David Quinn. “Not an easy game to coach, from either end of it.”
The Terriers (16-4-4, 11-2-2 Hockey East) took a 3-2 lead into the third period after a so-so initial 40 minutes. The final 20 began with Evan Rodrigues taking a five-minute major for boarding. The Minutemen (8-17-1, 3-12-1) took advantage, scoring two unanswered goals to take a 4-3 lead on goals from Shane Walsh and Frank Vatrano.
The goals marked the start of a track meet-like third period, with a Terriers taking the better half of a scoring margin (6-3) that was more representative of a baseball game.
“I think we got into a bit of a rhythm,” said Rodrigues. “Obviously, I was unfortunate to get that penalty, obviously something that I regret but just tried to make it up to the team. It was still a tight game, it wasn’t too free-flowing, it just seemed like every shot that either team took kind of went into the back of the net.”
Ahti Oksanen scored his second goal of the night at 7:01 to tie the game, 4-4 before UMass regained the lead 2:27 later when Riley McDougall scored his third of the year to give the visitors a 5-4 lead.
“Love scoring nine, hate giving up five,” said Quinn. “Feel bad for [Connor] LaCouvee (who made 30 saves for BU) because he was just a victim, he certainly played well. There wasn’t anything he could’ve done for the five [UMass goals].”
After the McDougall goal, it was all BU. The Terriers scored five unanswered goals in the final 7:21 to take control, beginning with Jack Eichel’s 14th goal of the season. It was the second of four points for the freshman on the night, which brought his total to 40 for the season. He needed just 23 games to reach the mark.
A minute after setting up Eichel’s game-tying goal, Matt Grzelcyk took the lead with his first goal of the year with a blast from the high slot. Oksanen, who recorded his first career hat trick on the night, provided strong net-front traffic on the play.
Getting the assist on the play was Rodrigues, one of six assists he notched on the night. It fell one shy of the program record of seven, shared by Ron Anderson (1971-72) and Larry Davenport (1967-68).
“My linemates did a great job on the powerplay getting open, and the buried on the chances they had, so alot of credit to them,” said Rodrigues, who had five assists in the third period. “I was just trying to find the open man, and had the luck of the draw.”
The difference on the night for the Terriers was the powerplay. With 49 penalty minutes shared between the two teams Friday night, BU found themselves on the man-advantage eight times. They converted on six of them.
“Obviously the story of the game was our powerplay,” said Quinn. “Going six-for-eight, and getting timely goals.”
The Terriers head into the Beanpot with less than five losses for the first time since 1998. BU will face Harvard in the opener of Monday’s doubleheader at the TD Garden. The program leads the four-team field that includes Boston College, Harvard and Northeastern with 29 Beanpot titles in the 63-year history of the tournament.
Despite the lead, they haven’t won since 2009, and have lost in the first round three times in the last four years. The Terriers haven’t appeared in the Beanpot final since 2012, when they lost a 3-2 overtime classic to BC.
“We haven’t had the best record in the Beanpot the last couple of years and our whole team’s hungry, especially with the season we’ve had,” said Rodrigues. “We’ve piled up a lot of wins, but like Quinn’s been reiterating throughout the week, wins don’t mean anything. It’s about trophies and championships and we have a chance to do that in the next couple of weeks and we’re a determined bunch right now.”