BOSTON — In a game that made one almost question whether the United States and Canada are allies, Boston University and the University of Toronto beat up on each other for a total of 92 penalty minutes while the Terriers beat the Varsity Blues 5-3 in an exhibition game on Friday.
Carl Corazzini, Mike Pandolfo and Brian Collins each notched a goal and an assist for the victors, while AHL veteran goalie Dave Lemanowicz made 41 saves in a losing effort for the plucky and young Toronto squad.
“I thought we played pretty well for our first game out,” Terriers coach Jack Parker said. “I liked us territorially; we outshot them. There was a big difference in team speed, I thought. Our team speed really dominated.
“Their goaltender played real well, made some great saves. I was pleased with both our goalies; they both looked OK, confident. And I thought all the freshmen played really well — which is really why you play these games, to see how they get acclimated.”
Despite the loss, Varsity Blues coach Darren Lowe was pleased with his team’s performance.
“There’s about 18 guys in their first or second year, and I think it was a good experience to come here and play against a team ranked maybe seventh in the country,” Lowe said. “I thought we fought hard the whole game.”
Early on, the game threatened to be like the voting in an old-time Chicago election, as the Terriers scored early and often. After going on a power play just eight seconds into the game, BU notched its first goal with only 42 ticks off the clock.
Chris Dyment’s pass from the center point hit Corazzini’s stick at the bottom of the left-wing face-off circle and the centerman threaded a pass across the slot to Pandolfo on the opposite wing. The big winger had plenty of net to hit to give his team a 1-0 lead.
Just 50 seconds later, Keith Emery’s left-point slap shot was redirected up and in by Collins.
Four subsequent Terrier penalties in the period negated their offense and forced Jason Tapp into the limelight between the pipes. The junior looked solid and made a few excellent saves. His counterpart also fared well, topping Corazzini on two shorthanded bids.
Varsity Blues captain Steve Murphy, the team’s leading scorer last year, cut the deficit to 2-1 at 15:53 when his wrist shot beat Tapp high on the glove side.
“I think we’ve been in that situation before where we got down by a couple of goals early in the game, and usually we collapse,” Lowe said. “But I think a couple of penalties and power-play chances for us, and we gained some confidence.”
But BU regained its two-goal advantage at 17:10 when Jack Baker backhanded home another goal after Terriers skaters peppered Lemanowicz with three quick shots.
At 2:34 of the second period, speedy freshman left wing Steve Greely cruised in on the left wing, faked a shot, then skated around the defenseman before crossing to Nick Gillis, who crashed the net and tapped the puck in to make it 4-1 for BU.
With BU on a power play, Toronto right wing Brent Atkins knocked the puck out of his zone and raced after it. Tapp made a bad choice, coming out of his net almost to the blue line, only to be beaten to the puck by Atkins. The junior maneuvered around the diving goalie and shot easily into the vacated net at 12:17.
BU outshot its opponents 13-4 for the period but couldn’t increase its lead.
During the final frame, the Terrier faithful had their first chance to watch the butterfly style of freshman goalie Sean Fields. Parker felt he fought off some initial nerves and ended strong.
Just 37 seconds into the third period, the third breakaway proved to be the charm for Corazzini, who finally solved Lemanowicz with a five-hole shot. The BU captain seems to have a knack for scoring goals early in the last period.
“Being the captain, I just want to come out and set the tone,” Corazzini said. “Last year I did it a few times against Maine, so it was good to get that going in exhibition.”
Things got ugly after that. Just seconds after one scrap landed three players from each team in the penalty box, another skirmish broke out following a delayed penalty because of a Toronto hit. Many of the 3,128 fans at Walter Brown Arena chanted “USA! USA!” as the teams mixed it up in the corner. Two Varsity Blues players received game misconducts. Altogether, the two teams received 50 penalty minutes in just over 21 seconds of play.
So much for a friendly game with our neighbors from the north.
“That usually happens, to tell you the truth,” Parker said of the exhibition-game fireworks. “It’s the first game for us, and guys are trying to show us that they’ll stand up, take a hit, give a hit.
“We haven’t gotten into the discipline stuff: guys haven’t gone to Mookville yet because they’ve taken stupid penalties.”
At 12:11, freshman Tyler Middlebrook received a cross-ice pass in the left-wing face-off circle and beat Fields with a 15-footer to make it a 5-3 final.
Parker was not worried about failing to light the lamp more often despite a high shot count.
“I think when it’s your first game after five practices you don’t finish, and when you’re playing an American Hockey League goaltender — he made some great saves and he made them look pretty easy,” Parker said, chuckling.
“Once you stop getting paid, you’re no longer a pro in Canada, so this kid decided to go back to college.”
BU begins its regular season at home against Rensselaer on Oct. 14.
“We have 18 players back from a team that got to the quarterfinals last year,” Corazzini said. “I think this year, realistically, we’re one of about seven teams that has a shot at a national championship.”