Boston University proved to be more than a match for reigning NCAA champion Denver on Friday night. But a slow start and an even slower finish were costly for the Terriers as they fell, 4-3, to the No. 1-ranked Pioneers.
BU (3-3-1), ranked No. 6, fell behind by two goals in the opening 3:54 before recovering, then let down and trailed, 3-2, after a fast-paced opening period.
The Terriers equalized on Dante Fabbro’s goal at 13:21 of the final period, and the game appeared headed to overtime before Troy Terry converted the winner with 16.1 seconds on the clock.
“I loved way we competed,” BU coach David Quinn said. “We’ve just got to learn how to win and finish games like this off, that’s the bottom line. There’s a reason they’re No. 1 in the country, why they’re national champions. It was an entertaining game but I didn’t come here to get entertained.”
The Terriers limited the Pioneers’ trigger-happy attack. The Terriers outshot Denver (3-0-2), which was averaging 50.5 shots on goal, 29-26.
Terry set up the opening goal, finding Dylan Gambrell streaking through the right circle, freshman Jake Dur-flinger finishing at the back post at 2:51. After Ryan Cloonan was penalized for hooking, the Pioneers capitalizing on a power-play goal by Colin Staub at 3:54.
The Terriers rallied to equalize on Ty Amonte’s first collegiate goal and Bobo Carpenter’s sixth of the season. Amonte finished from the right circle off a Drew Melanson pass from the red line that zipped through the crease at 10:50. Carpenter scored on a power play at 12:38, the goal set up by a Chad Krys drive from the point, Jordan Greenway redirecting for a Carpenter point blank finish. Staub broke the deadlock with his second power-play goal at 18:28, finishing from the edge of the crease after an attempt by Henrik Borgstrom.
“Tonight was a big test,” Quinn said. “And the aura of that team, the swagger they have, which they should, the big names they have — you’re down 2-nothing and it could get ugly but it didn’t. That says a lot about our guys — really proud of the way we battled.”
Terry appeared to increase the Denver advantage early in the second period, but his finish from the crease past Jake Oettinger was disallowed after a video review. Oettinger reached back to sweep away an Ian Mitchell shot that appeared to be sliding into the goal after banging off the right post with BU playing shorthanded following a holding minor at 10:24 of the second period.
BU dominated most of the final period, nearly scoring on a David Farrance shot, Tanner Jaillet making a post-to-post recovery or a save at 5:44. The Terriers’ persistence paid off as Fabbro equalized with a shot past Jaillet into the upper left corner of the net.
Then, with the BU defense backing off, Terry wristed a shot from the left circle past Oettinger at 19:44.
“I don’t know if we were tired, or what,” Quinn said. “ You’ve got to make plays, and we didn’t and they did.”
This was the Terriers’ fourth successive loss to the Pioneers since a 5-4 overtime win Oct. 13, 2016. BU has a 15-17-2 all-time record against Denver since 1960.
“It was a playoff-like atmosphere there and we held our own,” BU captain Brandon Hickey said. “Look at the third period, we were flying around, moving the puck well, and hemmed them in. That’s the stuff we’ve got to continue to do. We showed we can compete against a team of that caliber.”