In the midst of a steady parade to the penalty box, a hockey game broke out Saturday night at Boston University’s Agganis Arena.
The eighth-ranked Terriers toppled No. 4 Quinnipiac, riding freshman goaltender Jake Oettinger’s second shutout in as many nights to a 3-0 win. It was a sturdy win for BU in an anticipated matchup against last season’s NCAA championship runner-up, despite being littered with whistles — an ongoing issue across college hockey.
“Well, just another free-flowing college hockey game,” BU coach David Quinn cracked following the game. “Is it midnight?”
The teams combined for 26 penalties and 63 penalty minutes. Amazingly, neither team converted on the power play. Led by Oettinger and an invigorated shot-blocking effort from the defenders in front of him, BU stopped all 12 Bobcats power-play opportunities. The 6-foot-4-inch freshman turned away 22 shots, following up his first career shutout, a 7-0 win Friday against Sacred Heart.
But Saturday’s game was robbed of a consistent flow due to the deluge of whistles, a result of a preseason NCAA mandate for officials to crack down on obstruction penalties. So far, it has yielded choppy games, a lack of clarity about what constitutes a penalty, and several audible groans from the 5,555 at Agganis Saturday night.
“I know what the mandate is,” Quinn said. “But I think the referees and the players are continuing to figure out what a penalty is these days. Nobody wants to see that. The game was ruined. And I’m not blaming the referees, the players need to adapt to the system and the standard. But the referees also do, too. So this is going to take a little bit of time.”
What’s also taking time is the development of Quinn’s star-studded Terriers, who feature 11 NHL draft picks, including six drafted freshmen. While the season remains in its infancy and teams certainly need time to gel, dropping two games to No. 10 Denver last weekend was eye-opening.
Quinn believes he saw a different team this weekend.
The Terriers killed off three separate 5-on-3 penalties and blocked 10 shots. Oettinger thwarted the rest, but Quinnipiac’s chances around the net were limited. They played with a physical edge.
Offensively, the Terriers dictated play early, nearly scoring a goal within the first minute of the game before officials waved it off after the puck was blown dead. Six minutes later, sophomore Jordan Greenway added his third goal of the season, converting a deft feed from Bruins product Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson in the first period.
Bobo Carpenter buried his second goal of the season 7:55 into the second period, finishing a pass from teammate Patrick Harper on a 2-on-1 opportunity before crashing into Quinnipiac’s net and giving BU a 2-0 lead. Karlsson later chipped in an empty-netter to seal the win with 57.5 seconds left.
“Coming off of last weekend with an 0-2 record just kind of put us down,” said Greenway, “but this really brought us back up. It was definitely a good weekend for us.”
“I can’t tell you how proud I am of our team,” Quinn said. “People are going to talk about the penalties, as they should, but, boy, we didn’t feel very good about ourselves after we left Denver.
“I know they felt we needed to be better than that. When you have such a young team, you’re trying to find out what your identity is going to be.”
Saturday’s game was halted for nearly 10 minutes early in the first period as officials sorted out the aftermath of a 5-on-5 skirmish behind Oettinger set off by a late hit by Quinnipiac’s Logan Mick, who was later issued a 10-minute game misconduct. The teams combined for 37 penalty minutes in the period, 11 from the fight alone.
BU now has a two-week hiatus before its next game Nov. 4 at Northeastern.
“We showed a lot of guts,” Quinn said. “We showed a lot of character. We showed a lot of stupidity. We just really gutted this one out.”