Boston — Boston University was tied 2-2 with University of New Hampshire after Kevin Goumas passed back to Connor Hardowa for the game tying goal. But the Terriers didn’t let the score stay there for long, as Matt Nieto answered just 54 seconds later with the go-ahead goal.
Nieto’s goal would prove to be all BU needed to take the second game in the quarterfinal series, but Ryan Santana would seal it for the Terriers with a mid-third period goal to put BU up 4-2 and force a third game to determine which team will advance to the Hockey East semifinals.
What I saw
Kieran Millan kept the Terriers alive in the first period. He made two big saves in that period alone, later making a save on a breakaway from Mike Borisenok to keep BU up 1-0 at the close of the first. Kevin Goumas got an open chance on Millan in the second after BU mishandled the puck, but the goaltender was again there to keep his team in it. With three minutes to play, the Maine offense saw another opportunity to score, but Millan darted across the crease and blocked the shot with his elbow. This type of play characterized Millan’s skill throughout the entire game, in which he made 35 saves.
UNH was beating BU to the puck almost every chance they had to in the first period, which is why the Terriers depended on Millan so much early in the game. UNH’s forwards came out of the gate with hustle, and looked like a team that wanted to end this series tonight. They stay on top of the puck on every rebound, sometimes resulting in three consecutive shots. Despite the score, the Wildcats didn’t make it easy on Millan.
What I thought
BU came out hard tonight. They not only transitioned well, even during mishandling of the puck, but had a really solid forecheck. It was obvious how displeased Jack Parker was with his team’s performance last night, and it seems if they had underestimated the Wildcats Friday night, they certainly knew what to expect out of the team coming into tonight’s second game of the series.
Casey DeSmith is a really good goaltender, but factor in the reality that he’s only a freshman, and he becomes great. He had two big saves early in the third period to keep his team in it, and early in the second blocked the puck with his face when Alex Chiasson passed back to Wade Megan who tried to go top shelf. His 2.16 GAA is fourth-best single season record by a Wildcat and his .930 save percentage is third by a UNH goalie. DeSmith will be key for UNH tomorrow, and if his play remains anything like it has been it’s hard to see how he won’t give his team every opportunity to win in front of him.
Parker switched up his lines a bit tonight, moving Wade Megan to left wing on the first line, Matt Nieto to left wing on the second line and Evan Rodrigues to right wing with Nieto. Sahir Gill centered Nieto and Evan while Ben Rosen was moved back to center the third line. The changes clicked for BU, especially on the second line which combined for five points.
What they said
“I’m not only happy with the outcome, but I’m happy with the way we played. It was much better than last night, and we got the ‘W’ to boot…I thought we played really well most of the game. I thought we handled it better down low. They didn’t beat us up as much as they did last night, but we were just much more thorough and we looked like we were actually skating tonight.”
– Jack Parker
“It’s the last game of the series, it’s anybody’s game. It’s 1-1, we’ve got to go out there, bring everything we have, got to throw everything at them. And that starts the first shift, when we get to the rink, it starts when we get up in the morning. As long as we do that right, I think we’ll b in a great spot come Sunday night.”
– Connor Hardowa
What they didn’t say
Parker said he expected a hard fought game tomorrow, but neither coach truly let on just how much each team will be bringing to the ice tomorrow. BU was surprisingly eliminated in the quarterfinal round last year and UNH has been a bottom four seed in only four occasions in program history, so both teams are looking to advance and return to their traditions of postseason success.
What else you should know
The Terriers and the Wildcats will face off tomorrow in the final game of the series to determine who advances to next week’s semifinal games at the TD Garden. The game starts at 5 p.m.