The Boston University Terriers spent much of last week sleeping through wakeup calls. But they finally responded midway through the final period of a 4-2 win over UMass Lowell in a Hockey East game on Saturday night at Agganis Arena.
Bobo Carpenter scored twice and Clayton Keller once in the final 9:53 as BU (17-7-2, 10-4-2) snapped a two-game losing streak. The Terriers had sustained two defeats in a four-day span against Merrimack, after having earned a No. 1 USCHO ranking, and were sluggish early against the River Hawks.
“We were fragile,” BU coach David Quinn said. “I felt like Dr. Phil over the last couple days, trying to figure out what the heck’s been going on.
“We dug deep and put the white coat on, figured out as a group what we needed to do. We got a lot better as the game went on and we seem to be a clear-minded group right now.”
Quinn’s psychological adjustments and insistence on hard-nosed hockey seemed to do the trick, though that might not have been enough without some spectacular saves by Jake Oettinger.
Ryan Lohin gave UMass Lowell (15-9-3, 7-7-1) the lead on a power play, firing in off the far post from the left circle at 8:36. Gabriel Chabot equalized the game on a 2-on-1 situation, scoring unassisted at 9:40.
Oettinger kept things even in the second period. The River Hawks had three breakaways, Oettinger making his best stops on a John Edwardh backhander at 8:36 and a C.J. Smith 3-on-2 attempt at 19:51.
“Especially as goalie, you have to prove yourself every game,” Oettinger said, who finished with 33 saves. “You’re only as good as your last game. I’m trying to be consistent for guys and the team.
“This was a huge bounce-back win for us. Obviously, when you’re named No. 1 every game you play you’re going to get teams’ best and, obviously, that was the case against Merrimack. For us, we really learned no matter the atmosphere we need to bring our best game because every team is going to be gunning for us.”
BU broke the deadlock as Carpenter finished from the right circle off a Clayton Keller feed at 10:07 of the final period. Keller then took a pass from Carpenter on a breakout, roofing a shot from the right circle for a 3-1 edge at 12:47.
“I think there’s a lot of lessons learned,” Carpenter said. “Every night we have to come out and give it. We’re going to see, every team is going to want to beat us and move up the ladder. Every night we have to come out and play like a pro team.”
The Terriers were without forwards Kieffer Bellows and Nikolas Olsson, the latter injured during Friday’s game. They appeared to be in control late in the game but things got hectic in the final minutes. BU had a chance to up the advantage on a Jordan Greenway breakaway, saved by Tyler Wall. UML retaliated as Smith cut the deficit to 3-2 and Greenway was penalized for slashing at 16:57. The Terriers killed the penalty, then Carpenter clinched the result with an empty-net score at 19:04.
“Obviously, we’ve been in a little bit of a funk,” Quinn said. “In a short time we go from sitting on top of the world, and I don’t mean that because we were ranked No. 1. But just feeling good about ourselves and the way we were playing and winning games, in four short days all of a sudden the world’s about to end. It’s the ebbs and flows of a hockey season — it’s long. They’re 18-22 years old.
“I just like how we bounced back. We weren’t in a great place mentally before the game started and I give a lot of credit to them for being mentally tough enough, hanging in there, and playing their best hockey at a critical time of game.”