BOSTON – Trailing 2-0 midway through the second period, Boston University scored five unanswered goals to beat Boston College, 6-3, Friday night at TD Garden in the Hockey East semifinals. With the win, BU advances to Saturday’s final against UMass Lowell at 7 p.m.
Danny O’Regan and Evan Rodrigues each scored twice for the Terriers, while Sean Maguire made 44 saves in the winning effort.
BC’s top line of Steven Whitney, Quinn Smith and Pat Mullane accounted for two of its three goals in the game with Whitney and Smith scoring the goals while Mullane had a pair of assists.
Parker Milner struggled in net for the Eagles, making 21 saves and allowing five goals in the loss.
What I Saw
- After Quinn Smith put BC up 2-0 8 minutes, 46 seconds into the second period, a sense of urgency clicked in with the Terriers and they stepped their game up to a whole new level. They played with speed on both ends of the ice and took advantage of Eagles breakdowns on their way three goals in less than six minutes to close the second period with a 3-2 advantage. BC was in complete control up until that point, playing a fast game that BU simply couldn’t keep up with. But the momentum took a complete 180-degree turn at 12:17 when Evan Rodrigues used some nifty stick work to avoid a Quinn Smith pokecheck, then fired a shot past Parker Milner. Matt Lane put it upon himself two minutes later, forcing a turnover at the point in his own defensive zone, then racing to the other end of the ice to beat Milner 1-on-1 to tie the game.
- Both teams struggled on the penalty kill at times, but it especially hurt BC in the end. The Eagles took three penalties in the second period, and they paid for it the final time around. Michael Matheson went off for tripping at 16:56 and Garrett Noonan scored the go-ahead goal at 17:59 after taking a feed low from Matt Grzelcyk and hammering home the one-timer to beat Parker Milner. It got no better in the third. Just 1:08 in the final frame, Johnny Gaudreau was called for a five-minute cross-checking major and O’Regan made him pay 34 seconds later. Ahti Oksanen received a pass from Matt Nieto at the point, before finding O’Regan in the slot. The freshman then rifled one past Milner to double the BU lead. The Eagles allowed a third-consecutive power play goal at 8:57 when O’Regan scored his second of the night.
- While the final score may say otherwise, Sean Maguire put together a big time performance for BU on a big stage. The Eagles had overwhelmed him with quality scoring-chances early, outshooting the Terriers 30-12 with about six minutes left in the second period. But Maguire withstood the attack and gave his team enough to keep the game within reach. He did just enough to allow BU to work its way back into the game right in the second period. The Terriers’ defense wasn’t sharp for much of the early stages of the game, as BC continued to race up ice and put pressure on the freshman netminder. But once Maguire survived that, he was rewarded with better play from his defense and continued to hold it together while the offense took care of the rest. He made a lot of saves with the body, and remained composed as BC tried to work the puck inside throughout the contest.
What I Thought
- Johnny Gaudreau’s five minute major was the real turning-point in the game. Sure, the Terriers already had the lead at that point, but BC is simply too good to let a one-goal deficit overcome it in this type of stage. However, the Eagles couldn’t regain momentum back going out on the defensive. And allowing a quick goal after that only made it harder. From there, the game was BU’s to lose, and the Terriers wouldn’t let this one slip away. BU knew that this was its best chance to take the game into its own hands, and the response showed real growth and maturity in the process, which could pay dividends come tomorrow night.
- The Eagles really beat themselves more than anything else tonight. They came out with such intensity and were clearly the aggressors in the early-goings. But unlike the championship-caliber team of last season, BC couldn’t sustain that attack and were deflated by mistakes. From bad penalties, to turnovers, to defensive breakdowns, the Eagles showed no signs of life after Rodrigues solved Milner in the second. BC needed clutch performances from its senior goalie to win a national championship last year, but it’s clear what happens when he struggles in a postseason game. Milner made 21 saves on just 26 shots faced for the game. If the Eagles want to defend their national title, such poor performances from both Milner and the BC special teams won’t get the job done.
- Heading into Friday’s semifinal, the only two freshmen goalies anybody was talking about were playing in the 5 p.m. game, and rightfully so. But Maguire is gonna make people put him in that conversation as well following this standout performance. The Terriers have had some serious inconsistencies in goal, but have had no choice but to ride out Maguire for the postseason. His 44-save performance proves that he can get the job done in the postseason. It’s not often that a team that allows 47 shots on goal and 30 through the first 35 minutes of a playoff game can come out with a win, but Maguire put the Terriers on his back early and was rewarded with goal-support later on.
What They Said
“We have to win for our seniors, not for me. The way we played in the Garden a month ago (in the Beanpot) I wasn’t sure we’d be back here.” -BU coach Jack Parker
“(Parker) is such a great coach we weren’t going to let him lose to BC at the Garden.” -Danny O’Regan
“In the first half we dictated the tempo. After the (first BU) goal that gave them a lift and they asserted themselves after that.” -BC Associate coach Greg Brown
What Else You Should Know
BC is at No. 5 in the Pairwise following the loss, while the Terriers are currently at the 18 spot, which leaves them out of the tournament despite the win. BU will need to clinch the automatic berth with a win tomorrow in order to move on and keep Jack Parker’s career going.