Boston College’s impressive start against Boston University on Friday night at Conte Forum made it seem like the Eagles were on their way to extending an unbeaten streak that began in early November. Instead, the Terriers recovered to take a 7-4 victory in a matchup of Hockey East’s two youngest teams, handing BC its first loss in nine games.
“That was just the first chapter,” Terriers coach David Quinn said of the two-game series that continues at BU on Saturday night. “It’s an age-appropriate game for both teams. Probably a lot more room than both teams are accustomed to, and I think that’s why you saw so much scoring and so many chances.”
After a rendition of the Finland national anthem, commemorating the country’s 100th anniversary of independence, BC center Aapeli Rasanen, one of four Finns playing in the contest, scored at 1:32, followed shortly by Ron Greco at 2:16 to give the Eagles a 2-0 advantage. But after that, the Eagles (8-6-2, 8-2-0 Hockey East) found themselves struggling to keep pace.
“They were kind of feeding off the energy of the crowd,” said BU captain Brandon Hickey (two goals). “So, just bounce back, forget the first two minutes, and start playing the right way and get rewarded for it.”
BU (7-8-1, 5-4-1) rallied with three goals in the first, and scoring three more times in a 2:58 span in the second to take command.
“I loved our resolve, how mentally tough we were,” BU coach David Quinn said. “It’s 2-nothing before people can put cream in their coffee and get seated, and it looked like this was going to be a long, long night.
“We’ve had a lot of practice being down 2-nothing. It’s happened a few too many times this year. We’ve got resolve and we’ve got grit, we’ve got to get more brains – if we do that we’re going to have some success.”
Brady Tkachuk sparked the Terriers with two shorthanded breakaways in the opening period, the first saved by Joseph Woll, the second giving BU the lead. The Terriers had equalized on scores by Hickey (10:25) and Logan Cockerill (13:35), then Tkachuk’s second breakaway broke the deadlock, as he finished high to Woll’s glove side at 18:14.
“The past week I’ve been trying out that high move,” Tkachuk said. “The first one, I was kind of panicking, I’m not going to lie. On the bench, Ty Amonte said, ‘You’ve got to go back to that move,’ and, luckily, I got that second breakaway.”
Greco’s second goal equalized, as he converted a rebound, following shots by Luke McInnis and Connor Moore, at 2:41 of the second period. But BU capitalized on power plays to go ahead to stay.
Chad Krys (5:43) and Bobo Carpenter (8:41) converted on power plays and Hickey (7:54) finished from Tkachuk during a delayed penalty as BU took a three-goal edge.
Julius Matilla’s power play one-timer from the right circle pulled BC within 6-4 at 19:10 of the second period.
“We got two goals up and just got really excited and kind of lost our poise,” BC coach Jerry York said. “The shorthanded goal [by Tkachuk] was really a turning point, I thought. We got a chance to get back into it when it was 6-4 and [BU’s Jake] Oettinger made a really good save and we just couldn’t get any closer.
“One of the great things about a series like this is we have a chance to get back and redeem ourselves. It’s going to be down the street, [but] we’ll recover, regroup, and look at film and see if we can get a better effort tomorrow night.”
Shane Bowers concluded the scoring with an empty net score at 19:25 of the final period as BU had its highest goal total against BC since a 10-3 victory at Walter Brown Areana on Jan. 13, 1996.
“I don’t think either one of us want that type of game — we like a little more structure in our game,” York said. “It was a unique game. We made some really poor decision on clears, on power plays we turned pucks over too much. We weren’t real sharp, we just didn’t execute like I’ve seen us do.”