Durham, NH.- It was a made for TV game that wasn’t televised and it had every makings of a game that mattered. BU raced out to a 1-0 lead four minutes, 39 seconds into the first on a goal by Wade Megan. This goal would be the lone goal of a tightly played first period as BU took the 1-0 lead into the intermission. The Terriers would add two more at 4:01 and 8:03 of the second period to give the visitors a 3-0 lead over the host Wildcats. The lead was enough as the Terriers would hold off a late charge by UNH to take home the 3-2 victory.
UNH falls to 11-2-2 on the season and 8-2-1 in Hockey East, while Boston University improves to 9-5-0 and 7-4-0, The win moved the Terriers within three points of second place UNH and within four of Boston College in the Hockey East standings, as the Terriers remain in third place in the conference.
What I Saw
- It was a tale of two games for UNH. They came out flat in the first 30 minutes of the game and they payed for this by trailing the Terriers 3-0 in that time frame. They won the second half with flying colors, but getting down is really difficult to come back from and UNH just was unable to solve BU goaltender, Matt O’ Connor to find an equalizer late.
- BU used a solid effort early in the game to win puck battles and be in the right places at the right time. An example of this was the third goal that put BU up 3-0. A funny bounce off the back-wall put the puck right in front of the net, where Sam Kurker battled for it and was able to put it behind UNH goalie, Casey Desmith. The second half of the game wasn’t as pretty from the puck battles standpoint, but in the end they were able to do enough to win the game.
- Matt O’ Connor played a fantastic third period to keep UNH from coming back in the game. There were many instances where UNH players were battling in front of the net but he was poised to no end to keep the puck out of the net. His poise in the third period is what gave BU the win because UNH had the majority of the great chances in the second half of the game.
What I Thought
- UNH’s defense has come back to earth a bit since an early season showcase. The difference between now and then is the amount of pressure that they put on the puck carrier. Last month, they were able to pressure stick handlers constantly and be able to frustrate them in the neutral zone. In recent weeks, this pressure has not been there. The difference of giving up a goal more per game is huge in hockey and tonight the extra goal allowed costed them dearly. Giving up three goals in a game isn’t porous and the defensive coverages weren’t terrible, often times its just the luck or a bad bounce. The latter is seemingly the reason why more pucks are finding themselves behind Casey Desmith but in any case the high pressure that was once there isn’t as frustrating these days.
- BU has done nothing but improve in recent weeks. Their goaltending has gotten better and they have been able to stick with arguably the top two teams in the country and win two games. Despite losing both season series’ against BC and UNH, the Terriers are seemingly in position to go on a tear. No one will want to see BU come March; they are very young and are improving and getting more confident by the game.
What They Said
BU coach Jack Parker said,
“Good game to watch I imagine, because it was a good game to coach in. I thought we played a good game throughout, but I felt we took way too many penalties, as we had to kill nine of them. Two really solid goaltenders putting on a really good show. There were a lot of great opportunities for both teams.”
“This UNH team is really a good team. For us to come up here and get a win is terrific for us. This is huge for our confidence and we will feel really good about this one because this is a really solid team. They are so good in their own zone and there is hardly a flaw in this team.”
UNH coach Dick Umile said,
“Obviously we came up short tonight. Spotting BU three goals is really not a good formula to get a win. The guys battled the second and third period. It was a heckuva hockey game and both goalies played really well. We had our chances on the power-play but just missed some opportunities.”
UNH forward Kevin Goumas said,
“I think we just came out a little flat tonight. They were winning stick battles and winning the puck races. They were just mentally tougher than us from the start and it showed.”
“Matt O’ Connor played exceptional for them tonight. His rebound control was good and we had nothing really in front of him.”
UNH forward John Henrion said,
“They were definitely a little hungrier than us in the first period. That is not how we had been playing and we have to get back to work on that.”
What Else You Should Know
BU has a nationally televised matchup on home ice against Maine Saturday night. They can get closer to UNH before the break in the standings. Losing four games against the top two teams is not demoralizing but it makes their road more difficult going forward.
UNH goes into their holiday break with the second best winning percentage in the country and a record of 11-2-2. Few would have expected them to have this record at the beginning of the season but they have earned it and have worked hard for it. I guess the same question will always linger in the minds of everyone, can UNH sustain their early season success into March and April?