Durham, NH.- Boston University looked to be in cruise control early as they scored just 43 seconds into the game off the stick of Wade Megan. But UNH would respond with two goals in 18 seconds by John Henrion and Nick Sorkin later in the period. These goals would prove to be enough on the night as UNH would go on to win 4-1.
The game was evenly played for most of the night, but the big difference was goaltending. New Hampshire’s Casey Desmith gave his team a solid performance with 24 saves on 25 shots while BU freshman, Sean Maguire, struggled in his 30 minutes of play giving up four on 14 shots. He was replaced midway through the second period by Matt O’Connor, but the damage had already been done to the tune of a 4-1 lead for UNH. The 4-1 lead would hold until the final buzzer.
What I Saw
-Boston University received consistent goaltending from Matt O’Connor, last Saturday night at home but were unable to receive a solid outing from another freshman, Sean Maguire tonight. Maguire gave up four goals on 14 shots and looked rattled though his 30 minutes of play. On multiple occasions he should have been able to stop the puck but such is hockey really, those saves are usually the difference in the game.
-For an early season game, it was quite chippy. Late in the third, both teams took ill-advised penalties and UNH’s Greg Burke got five and a game misconduct for a head-butting call. The game was for the most part decided at that point, but the ill-advised penalties late could have cost UNH the game. Three goal leads are never safe against good teams. On this night it didn’t cost UNH, but on others it could.
-UNH’s penalty killing looked very strong on the night and continually pressured the BU power-play throughout the Terriers five power-play chances. They killed all five BU power-plays and the Terriers were able to get little going against the UNH penalty-killers. They were especially good at getting in front of the puck to block shots. On multiple occasions, defenders dove in lanes to break up BU passes. This pressure is what allowed them to kill valuable time on their penalty-kill attempts.
What I Thought
-Despite the effort, BU just seemed a step behind UNH most of the night. BU failed to win the battles that were necessary to win the game and were never really allotted the room to create any opportunities on the offensive side of the puck. UNH’s strong fore-check seemed to frustrate them more and more as the game went along.
-BU’s top defensive pair of Garrett Noonan and Ryan Ruikka were a combined -4 on the night. The rest of the defensive corps for the Terriers showed some grit and were able to slow the Wildcat offense down. At a combined -4 for the top pair, teams normally struggle to win and this was the case for BU on the night.
-UNH is doing all the things they failed to do most of last season. Sitting at 3-0-0 and 1-0-0 in Hockey East on the season, this one is a complete reversal of their start last year, where they started 0-4-0. The defense has been solid and so has Casey Desmith. He was often tested in this game and his only blemish on the night was a goal 43 seconds into the game.
What They Said
BU coach Jack Parker said: “I thought we played pretty well in the first period, despite being down 2-1. We got on our heels when UNH scored early in the second and we got out of sync. We were missing on passes everywhere. We didn’t create any pressure on them from the second half of them game on. Desmith played well when he needed and we missed the net a few times.”
BU forward Wade Megan said: “It was a tough loss but I felt we worked hard. The stuff that we didn’t do right tonight is fixable, which is good and it wasn’t for a lack of effort. The guys competed for us. We win as a team and lose as a team; we made a lot of mistakes so we can’t lay it on just Sean. It’s back to the drawing board for us now. We couldn’t really get in the flow of our power-play. We need to gain some chemistry and we will be fine.”
That They Didn’t Say
Umile didn’t talk about Greg Burke’s penalty late in the game. Head-butting is something that shouldn’t happen in a hockey game. It will be interesting to see if Umile will have any punishment for a player that is an assistant-captain on his team.
What Else You Should Know
BU will have a crucial home and home series against UMass next weekend. They will host the Minutemen on Friday night and head to Amherst on Saturday night. The weekend needs to be a crucial bounce back weekend for the Terriers. Panic should not be rung for Boston University as the effort was there on this night, just not the timeliness that is often needed to win games in College Hockey.
UNH will have a home and home series next weekend against Northeastern. The Huskies lost Saturday night to BC 3-0. UNH will look to stay undefeated on Friday night and crucial Hockey East points will be on the line. The weekend should tell us a lot about where UNH is headed this season.