BOSTON — On a night when Boston University honored the members of its 1970-71 team 30 years after the season in which they gave the school its first national championship, the hosts weren’t very gracious to one of the guests of honor: former Terrier great and current UMass-Amherst coach Don “Toot” Cahoon.
Coaching against his alma mater, Cahoon watched his new charges go down to defeat to Boston University, 4-2 before 3,469 at Walter Brown Arena, as Freddy Meyer and Carl Corazzini led the way a goal and assist apiece. The Terriers had beaten the Minutemen 5-2 the previous night in Amherst.
BU coach Jack Parker was asked if he felt badly for sending Cahoon, his former assistant coach, home unhappy on his special night.
“He got a watch,” Parker quipped, shrugging. “He just said to me, ‘Hey, that box you gave to me was empty.’ He was a great player here, a fabulous player here.”
Cahoon was not in a mood for humor, even of the gallows variety.
“We can’t solve our issue of taking untimely penalties — we’ve done it for quite a while now and it’s killing us,” Cahoon said.
“I’ve got some issues with my team in terms of discipline, in terms of intelligence, and until we become more disciplined and more intelligent out there we’re going to continue to lose games.”
After a trying stretch of six straight losses, Parker was understandably a happy camper on the heels of the sweep.
“It’s a sigh of relief to get four points in the league and get back in the middle of the pack in the league anyways,” Parker said. “I thought it was a real solid weekend by us: Steady goaltending from both goaltenders. Played great on the power play both nights.
“I think we’re leading the league in power-play goals, doing a great job there. Still had a little struggle killing penalties but we’re working hard at it.”
Three of four Terrier goals were scored with the man advantage, as the power play continues to be the Terrier’s best friend this season. Meanwhile, penalties once again plagued the Minutemen.
“I can’t tell you the last period that we’ve been in a situation where the opponent’s taken more penalties than we have,” Cahoon said. “It’s been our Achilles’ heel all year.”
Freshman Sean Fields had 21 saves for the Terriers (4-8-1, 3-4-1 Hockey East), while Brad Nizwantowski notched a goal and an assist in a losing effort for the Minutemen (3-10-2, 3-3-0 Hockey East).
After starting the season 3-3-1, the Minutemen have gone 0-7-1 subsequently. The winless streak has coincided with defenseman Toni Soderholm’s absence from the lineup due to a knee injury.
BU scored the first goal of the game for only the 6th time in 13 games this year. At 2:33, with a man advantage, Meyer’s left-point slapshot was redirected through traffic in the slot. Minuteman Goalie Mike Johnson made the initial save but a fat rebound bounced to his left, where Dan Cavanaugh patiently controlled the puck and hit the partially vacated net.
With the teams playing four-on-four, the rushes went back and forth and back again at the 12-minute mark, culminating in the second BU goal. Terrier captain Carl Corazzini rushed the puck one way, only to have the Turner brothers combine to take the puck away and race off the other way. After a missed shot, BU counterattacked with Corazzini racing in on the left wing. He skated right around Kris Wallis before slicing across the slot, deking, and beating Johnson to the far side of the crease.
It was Corazzini’s fifth goal in his last five games.
Less than two minutes later, the Terriers chalked up their second power-play goal of the game. Brian Collins made a smart read from the right-wing faceoff circle, crossing to Mike Bussoli at the opposite dot. The defenseman’s wrister beat Johnson high stick side to make it 3-0.
Still, between the scoring, skating, and hitting, it had to be BU’s best period at home this season thus far. After a season of doing more shuffling than a Las Vegas card dealer, Parker seems to have come up aces on his forward lines at last.
“I really wanted to get Pandolfo, Collins, and Gillis back together,” Parker said. “They were a real solid line for us last year; they can really work the walls; they’re physical.”
The second period saw the Terriers continue piling up two shots for every one by their opponents, albeit with no real scoring chances through the first half of the period. Then, UMass-Amherst scored an unexpected goal.
Sophomore Brad Nizwantowski picked up the puck just inside the Terrier zone and went in alone on Sean Fields. It looked as if the winger tried to go five-hole, but the freshman made the save, only to have Nizwantowski alertly tap the rebound in while almost on top of the goalie.
Freddy Meyer had a dazzling rush at 16:30 but couldn’t quite finish.
However, Meyer couldn’t be stopped on his next chance at 5:58 of the third. On another power play, Meyer opted against a shot from the left-wing faceoff circle, choosing to go around the net. It looked like a probable wraparound bid, but instead Meyer came out a little farther. He wristed a beauty in high on the short side to make it 4-1, inspiring Minuteman forward Tim Turner to break his stick on the crossbar in disgust.
“I had kind of a similar situation earlier in the game also — a wraparound and I really didn’t get much on it,” Meyer said. “So I figured I’d hold on to it and bring it out deeper and get it top shelf.”
The Minutemen got one back at 8:20 following a Samuli Jalkanen slapshot when Kris Wallis took a backhanded whack at a second rebound and popped it up and over Fields.
BU hosts Maine on Friday night before a lengthy Christmas break, while UMass-Amherst travels to Providence on the same night.