The Takeaway: BU Valiant in Comeback Attempt, But Falls 4-3 to UNH

Posted by: Josh Seguin

Durham, NH – On the night that UNH celebrated its seniors, the Wildcats came out rocking against a BU team that has been struggling in recent weeks.  Dan Correale scored the first of the night for UNH at the two minute, 52 second mark when he found a puck on the doorstep and put it past O’Connor in a scrum. BU, though controlled much of the play in the period. UNH, though, was ever advantageous of BU mistakes, as Eric Knodel scored on the power-play from the point. Matt Willows followed it up seven minutes later to give UNH a 3-0 lead. BU scored a 5 on 3 power-play goal with 8 seconds remaining in the first period, as Evan Rodrigues received a pass and buried it past Desmith to send the game into the first intermission, 3-1. The goal was a turning point in the game.

The teams traded goals in the second, as Boston University again dominated the territorial play against UNH. The Wildcats led Boston University, 4-2, heading into the third period. BU would make it interesting at 9:15 of the third, as Robbie Baillageron netted the Terriers’ second 5 on 4 power-play goal of the night. BU gave a valiant effort in the waning minutes of the game but Casey Desmith had every answer thrown at him, including a late glove save to preserve UNH’s 4-3 win over BU.

The win improved UNH to 17-15-1, 9-8-0 in Hockey East and BU dropped to 8-17-4, 3-9-3. The win moves UNH into a tie for third place with Maine, four points behind UMass-Lowell in second. UNH is one point ahead of Northeastern in fourth, which is the final spot with home ice in the quarterfinals, and two points ahead of sixth place Providence. Positions six  through 11 play first round games, while positions 1-5 have first byes with the top four getting home ice in the quarterfinals. BU sits in tenth place, three points behind home ice in the first round. The win also moves UNH up to 21st in the Pairwise, it would conceivably need to win out to get an at large berth.

What I Saw

  • BU didn’t play its worst game, but it did play tentatively for the first ten or so minutes of the first. UNH took advantage to score two goals in that time frame that ended up being the game. Whether it be road legs or a UNH surge because of pregame festivities, BU needed to be more prepared to play the first ten minutes. The remaining 50 minutes of the game, though, were in a sense dominated by the Terriers. It played one of its better games of the season.
  • Despite the win tonight, UNH struggled against a team that it looked like it was going to beat handily in the first period. It was a team that dominated the possession for much of the season but in recent weeks, most notably against Vermont last weekend and against BU tonight, the Wildcats struggled to find the puck and keep it. It was a net out struggle against a team, BU, that struggles to possess and get shots. Tonight, though, it allowed its opponent to find the puck and take shots. BU usually ends up getting heavily outshot, on average by ten a game, tonight was the opposite. BU outshot UNH by 13.

What I Thought

  • BU played well and probably deserved a better outcome in this one. It outshot UNH and possessed the puck with ease. In this case, the shot clock was highly indicative of the game that was played on the ice. Although it played well as a team it made mistakes that proved to be costly. Missed defensive assignments and poor goaltending in the first period, proved to be the difference. For BU, the struggle continues. Although the improvements on the ice are highly visible, BU still struggles to win.
  • Finding ways to take advantage of its opponents mistakes is BU’s biggest obstacle. Tonight it had a plethora of great chances late in the game to tie it, but just couldn’t solve Casey Desmith. Desmith was the best player on the ice for his time, but he struggled with positioning at times. Tonight, BU should have solved him to tie it let but just could’t find a way to do so.
  • UNH looks like it needs its bye week in the worst way. The mental lapses and inability to find the puck are becoming a common problem for them. Tonight, it tried to hand BU the win to the best of its ability but thankfully for UNH, Casey Desmith played one of his better games. His glove save in the waning seconds, preserved the win. A win like this may give him the confidence to go down the stretch, it certainly won’t hurt.

What They Said

BU coach David Quinn said,

“I felt UNH was a little more ready at the drop of the puck. Ironically I didn’t think our first period was that bad but I felt our first period was actually pretty good. When we were bad we were just really bad. When we struggle we really struggle.”

“The 5 on 3 goal at the end of the first was huge. Any time you can score with under ten seconds to go in a period it is huge. I really loved our start in the second period, as the first eight minutes were probably the best we have played in a while. We just made good decisions and I felt we carried that throughout the second and third period for the most part.”

” It is frustrating because I feel as though we have been playing a lot better lately, other than the consolation game of the Beanpot, but we haven’t been rewarded for it. We have made a lot of strides, have played a lot more purposeful and a lot more mature of a hockey team over the last month but we don’t have much to show for it. I know they are getting frustrated with it, But this is a results driven business. You either get a W or don’t. Unfortunately for us we are finding ways not to get it done right now.”

UNH Coach Dick Umile said,

“It is tough to get two points in this league but we almost gave them away. We started out very well but then we took some undisciplined. We were fortunate tonight, as Casey Desmith got the two points for us and made some huge saves in the third period.”

“Tomorrow night is real important. Every point is going to be real important in this league and they are hard to come by, with the exception for BC because of the parity.”

What Else You Should Know

UNH and BU will conclude its season series tomorrow night at Agganis Arena, in Boston. UNH will be looking to improve its playoff positioning and try to cement its chance at a bye and home ice in the quarters. BU will look to move into position to pounce on a home-ice berth. UNH sits tied for third and BU sits in tenth place.

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