Boston University opened a weekend series against 15th-ranked North Dakota Friday night with a 3-1 victory before 3,882 at Agganis Arena.
It was the second straight victory for BU (6-6-0), which is 6-2-0 at home this season.
The teams play again Saturday night at Agganis in North Dakota’s only East Coast trip of the season. The teams split a two-game set in North Dakota last season.
North Dakota (4-6-1) is BU’s first opponent from the newly formed National Collegiate Hockey Conference and the Terriers did their best to make a good first impression, scoring a pair of goals in a shot-filled first period while holding North Dakota off the scoreboard.
BU took 16 shots to North Dakota’s 12 as the Terriers repeatedly charged to the net. In the first 10 games of the season, BU scored only four first-period goals.
“When you’ve got a two-game weekend, it’s always nice to get the first one under your belt,’’ said BU coach David Quinn, “and I thought we were pretty thorough from start to finish.
“Overall I thought we did a lot of good things offensively; we got to the net better than we have in the past.”
Both teams — routinely among the nation’s powerhouses — have struggled early. Both teams entered this game one game under .500 and came in 9 for 43 (21 percent) on the power play.
Moreover, North Dakota came to Boston with a depleted roster; injuries to four starters left the team with 11 forwards, and defensemen Gage Ausmus and Andrew Panzarella were moved up to the front line.
North Dakota didn’t help itself by taking four penalties in the first period and two more in the second, seven in the game.
BU collected a pair of power-play goals.
“Two power-play goals out of seven, we’ll take that all day long,’’ said Quinn.
BU’s Cason Hohmann struck first, at 9:14 of the first period. Garrett Noonan initiated the play deep in the BU zone, sending the puck around the boards toward Matt Lane, who picked it up along the sideboard and nudged a pass ahead to Hohmann. Hohmann had room to move on the left wing and skated in on Clarke Saunders, firing a shot past the goalie on the short side.
Hohmann, BU’s top right wing, injured his shoulder shortly after his goal when he was checked into the boards by Wade Murphy, and will be out for a while, Quinn said. Quinn had to juggle his lines, and found new combinations with chemistry.
First, Danny O’Regan made it 2-0 with his fifth goal of the season on the power play, stuffing the rebound of Noonan’s wrister from the right side through a cluster of North Dakota defenders clogged around the left post at 17:15.
North Dakota continued to challenge BU goalie Matt O’Connor, firing 11 shots in the second and 15 in the third, but couldn’t rattle the 6-foot-6-inch sophomore.
“He stood his ground,’’ said Quinn. “He didn’t sag, he was strong, he understood where the net was, there was no panic in his game. When he’s square and strong, it’s tough to find a hole when you’re that size.’’
Freshman Kevin Duane gave BU its second power-play goal at 4:59 of the third when the rebound of Matt Grzelyck’s wrist shot bounced right to him and he lifted a backhander inside the right post to make it 3-0.
“I thought BU played well; they capitalized on opportunities and did a good job on the power play,’’ said North Dakota coach Dave Hakstol. “We couldn’t find a way to get the first one. We got it a little bit too late to give ourselves a chance.”
North Dakota, which took 38 shots in the game, finally got one past O’Connor at 17:23 of the third, a wrister from the left circle by Rocco Grimaldi.
The Terriers will come back with O’Connor again Saturday night, his third game in a row.
“After that goal, I’m still hungry for another game,’’ O’Connor said. “Obviously, I wanted a shutout.”