BOSTON — Perhaps Boston University coach Jack Parker should start serving airline food to his team as a pre-game meal.
Just five hours after landing at Logan Airport, Terrier sophomores Freddy Meyer and John Sabo shook off the effects of two flights totaling 12 hours, returning from the World Junior Championships in Moscow in time to team up for an early goal in BU’s 3-2 win over arch-rival Boston College in front of a sellout crowd of 3,806 at Walter Brown Arena.
“Bavo [BU assistant coach Mark Bavis] called us in Moscow, and I knew he was trying to set something up,” Sabo said. “Finally, we got the final word that we were going to be able to get back and play.
“Actually, I felt pretty good, just a little tired from the time changes and everything.”
The Terriers scored three goals on their first eight shots, then held on for dear life to weather a BC onslaught in the third period. Jason Tapp made 32 saves — including 16 in the final frame, in which the Eagles enjoyed a 17-3 advantage in shots — to lead the way for the home team.
The evening did little to endear the bitter cross-town rivals, who traditionally get along about as well as Iran and Iraq. BC Coach Jerry York was miffed that the Terriers made special arrangements to get their players back in time for the game, while Eagle J.D. Forrest traveled with the U.S. team and thus returned too late.
“It’s always been my contention there that they go as a team, they come back as a team,” York said. “We expect J.D. back tonight with the rest of the U.S. hockey team. And I think he’ll have a great impact on our club. That’s all I’ll say on that whole matter.”
Meanwhile, Parker appeared to be unhappy with the fact that Eagle Brian Gionta pushed Terrier defenseman Chris Dyment headfirst into the boards and a received only a five-minute major — and no game disqualification — in the last minute of the game. The extent of Dyment’s injury was unclear after the game.
“His back is pretty sore, and his neck is pretty sore,” Parker said. “No other comment on that hit.”
Fellow travelers Meyer and Sabo teamed up to score the game’s first goal at 3:40.
Collecting his own rebound on a shot caroming off the back boards, Meyer slapped a one-timer from just outside the face-off circle. While screening Eagle netminder Scott Clemmensen, Sabo redirected the puck in low on the glove side.
On BU’s second goal, Terrier captain Carl Corazzini made a clever play behind the Eagle net, going after a loose puck but simply caroming it off the boards to drop it for Jack Baker. The winger picked up the puck and beat Clemmensen through the five-hole with a wraparound.
BC had a good shorthanded chance with seven seconds left in the period, but Tapp rolled over and stopped Ales Dolinar’s shot with his back.
BC gained momentum in the second frame, and Gionta gave the Terrier fans a scare with a breakaway at the six-minute mark. He deked and tried to beat Tapp with a backhander but shot just wide.
It took over eight minutes for BU to get their first shot on goal of the period, but they made it count. Chris Dyment took a shot from the right point, and Nick Gillis redirected it in near the crease to make it 3-0. A WHUB-TV replay between periods appeared to show that the play had been offside.
After yielding two goals on the first three shots of the first period, Clemmensen had now given up three goals on just eight shots total for the game.
The Eagles revived their hopes at 11:43 just two seconds after a four-on-four situation became a BC power play. Brooks Orpik carried the puck in on the left wing on a two-on-two, crossing the puck to Chuck Kobasew crashing the net. Although the talented freshman had a Terrier defender hanging on him, he managed to redirect the puck past Tapp for his 11th goal.
Marty Hughes broke in alone at the sixteen-minute mark, only to have Tapp make the save.
BU looked to be back on their heels early on in the third period, seemingly content to sit on their two-goal lead.
“Tapp played great when he had to in the third,” Parker said. “We were backed off too much; we really tried to be too conservative in the third period, and we paid for it territorially.”
A four-on-four situation opened things up for the Eagles, and they eventually pulled within one. Senior defenseman Rob Scuderi attacked the net and took a shot then a backhanded whack at his own rebound. Krys Kolanos collected the second rebound and fluttered a deft shot into the net, high enough to get over the fallen goalie’s flailing legs.
That made it 3-2 with plenty of time left.
BU finally got their first shot of the period with just 7:05 left in the period, when Freddy Meyer took a long shot through a screen. Clemmensen made a nice snare on a puck ticketed for the top shelf.
Some lively action ensued in both directions. Terrier fans had their hearts in their throats with 2:30 left in the game, when freshman Tony Voce skated across the slot and patiently waited for Tapp to go down, only to be thwarted in his attempt to lift a shot over him.
Gionta’s last-minute major ensured a chippy ending as the horn sounded.
“It was a big win in our league and a big win any time you beat your arch-rival,” Parker said.
York tried to see the silver lining.
“I thought our club dug itself a hole; we were down 3-0,” York said. “But we came back with a lot of moxie and just good, solid play.”
BU (7-9-1, 5-4-1 Hockey East) travels to BC (13-5-1, 6-2-1 Hockey East) for a Sunday night rematch, as Fox Sports New England makes its first telecast of the season.