BOSTON — What began as a banner-raising night for Boston University proved to be a hair-raising evening for Terriers coach Jack Parker, as Rensselaer spoiled the party behind a Marc Covosie hat trick, beating BU 5-4 in a see-saw battle in front of a sellout crowd of 3,806 at Walter Brown Arena.
Cavosie sealed his hat trick with the game-winner with 2:40 left to play, after the Terriers had clawed their way back into the game after trailing for the better part of the game.
Losing the season opener was a surprise for a team that went undefeated at home last season. BU’s last loss at home came on March 5, 1999, and the team had not lost a home opener since 1996. The game also marked the second year in a row that an Engineer notched a hat trick against the Terriers.
“Last year [Brad] Tapper gets a hat trick against us, and this year Cavosie gets a hat trick,” Parker said. “I didn’t think we played very well tonight. I thought we played very tentative: nervous with the puck and made bad decisions with the puck. But above all, we just didn’t cover anybody.”
Engineers coach Dan Fridgen was pleased with his team’s performance.
“After a summer layoff, that was certainly one to get your mind into it pretty quickly,” Fridgen said. “It was end-to-end at times; we got up on them, but give them a lot of credit. They fought back.
“And give my guys a lot of credit: Anytime you bring this building to life, it can wear on you. But we stayed very, very composed.”
After the Terriers hoisted the banners for last season’s Beanpot victory and Hockey East regular-season championship, the first period provided many fast-paced thrills and momentum changes. One big question facing the Engineers this season had to be whether their freshmen netminders could offset the loss of Hobey Baker finalist Joel Laing. The opening minutes showed that freshman Nathan Marsters — a sixth-round draft pick of the Los Angeles Kings last June — could fill the void, literally and figuratively.
The 6-foot-4, 200-pound goalie from Grimsby, Ontario, came up big three times in the first four minutes, stopping a Carl Corazzini breakaway and point-blank opportunities by Jack Baker and Dan Cavanaugh.
Seemingly bolstered by the play of its freshman between the pipes, Rensselaer set out to show how well would the Engineers offense perform after losing five of last season’s top seven scorers.
They made the most of their first opportunity to answer that question. Just 19 seconds into a power play, a rebound was dished back to Cavosie high in the left-wing faceoff circle. His seeing-eye wrister eluded a cluster of players and beat Jason Tapp. At 4:37, the Engineers found themselves up 1-0 on their overdue first shot of the game.
Cavosie followed that up with a highlight-reel move less than a minute later, putting the puck through his legs while skating backwards into the offensive zone, ultimately forcing a penalty.
At 11:16, another great move by Cavosie gave him a shorthanded goal. The sophomore centerman pulled up short before shooting, collecting his own rebound, and finally beating Tapp to make it Cavosie 2, Terriers 0.
After an Engineer power play was negated by penalty, the Terriers managed a four-on-four goal with just 21.1 ticks left in the period. Keith Emery’s slapshot was blocked by Marsters, but Brian Collins buried the rebound to make it 2-1.
Incredibly, the Terriers almost tied it with three seconds left when Emery threaded a long pass to spring Corazzini, but the Terrier captain fired just high and wide.
The game tightened up in the second period, as the teams settled into the contest. The Terriers’ power play showed severe signs of early-season rust, as they struggled mightily on numerous power plays.
At 12:20, the Engineers regained their two-goal cushion, as Cavosie, naturally, figured in another goal. This time he made a nifty backhanded drop pass to set up defenseman Scott Basiuk’s slap shot for his first career goal.
On a delayed-penalty call late in the period, Terrier Brian Collins fell down while heading toward the net but still managed to pass to Dan Cavanaugh on his left wing, setting up a 10-footer to bring BU within a goal at 17:34.
With just nine seconds left in the period and with Marsters shaken up after a collision, BU had to feel good with a face-off in the Engineer zone. But Rensselaer stole the puck off the draw and Carson Butterwick sprung Matt Murley on a breakaway. He deked, pulled the puck to his forehand, and beat Tapp low stick-side with less than a second left on the clock.
It looked like the proverbial backbreaker.
However, the Terriers hung tough and gradually built momentum in the third period. Then, after failing to score on its first six power-play opportunities, BU took all of six seconds to capitalize on its seventh. Shortly after a face-off, John Cronin nailed a right-point slap shot. Cavanaugh screened Marsters as the puck sailed in high, stick side at 10:24.
Just 66 seconds later, the Terriers raised the roof with the equalizer. Corazzini streaked in on the left wing and sent a long backhand pass through the slot. Marsters failed to pokecheck the puck as several players converged on the net. Mike Pandolfo received the long-distance pass at a sharp angle on the far side of the crease and poked it home to tie the game 4-4.
But once again, the Engineers counterpunched just as BU appeared to be on the verge of winning. Marc Cavosie was the predictable culprit. He took an initial shot that went wide, and his brother, sophomore (junior academically) Eric Cavosie, whacked a rebound off the side of the post. That rebound went back to Marc, whose shot slipped between Tapp and a BU defenseman for the game-winner.
“This is a real building block,” the younger Cavosie said. “We’re a young team — we’ve only got one senior — and in a close game like this you really learn a lot about the character of your players.”