BOSTON — For a Boston University team that has scored more goals this season in dribbles than in downpours, Friday night’s performance provided an embarrassment of riches for the scarlet and white.
Locked in a 1-1 struggle with a recalcitrant UMass-Amherst team with less than 10 seconds left in the second period, the Terriers blew the game open with four goals in under five minutes on the way to a 5-1 victory in front of 3,350 fans at Walter Brown Arena.
Terriers captain Carl Corazzini led the way with two assists and a critical goal with just 6.2 seconds left in the second period. Brian Collins added two more tallies for BU, which is now within one game of .500 for the first time since November.
BU coach Jack Parker was hard-pressed to remember the last time a Terriers team exploded for four goals in less than five minutes.
“Maybe Rick Meagher and Mike Eruzione were playing,” Parker said. “Or maybe Tony Amonte, Shawn McEachern, and Keith Tkachuk were playing. No, I don’t remember that.
“I do remember a lot of third periods starting out quick. That continues to be a nice trademark of our team.”
Minutemen coach Don “Toot” Cahoon acknowledged that a pair of penalties and the subsequent barrage of goals was the key.
“The whole series of events at the end of the second and the start of the third was the game,” Cahoon said.
Since losing in horrific fashion at home to UMass-Lowell two Fridays ago, the Terriers have reeled off four straight wins and appear to be peaking just in time for the Beanpot Tournament, which begins on Monday night.
“In general, I was real pleased that we didn’t look by anybody, that we were ready to play and got two more points in the league,” Parker said.
BU came out of the gate strong, forechecking, skating, and hitting effectively. Dan Cavanaugh was hauled down on a scoring bid at 4:31, and the Terriers had ample chances on the power play but no major threats.
The Minutemen bent considerably but didn’t break for the majority of the period.
“We know that with the type of team we have, we don’t skate player for player with them,” Cahoon said. “So obviously we were giving up some ice, and we threw — for the sake of terminology — a couple of different kinds of traps at them: one a motion trap and one more of a stationary trap.
“We were trying to keep it tight. I thought we were doing a pretty good job of it.”
Just when it started to look as if the Terriers first-period domination was ebbing, they capitalized.
At 16:07, Brian Collins pulled the puck out of a jumble of players in the right-wing corner, stickhandled toward the net, and pushed it in low past Markus Helanen for the 1-0 lead.
UMass-Amherst had a chance to get one puck with 2:30 left in the period, but Fields made a nice save on Tim Turner off a two-on-one break.
Bona fide scoring chances were hard to come by for much of the second period. A Pat Aufiero bounce pass off the boards sprung Mike Pandolfo for a shorthanded breakaway, but Helanen was equal to the challenge. The Terriers mustered a few more chances in four-on-four play, but shots by Mark Mullen and Freddy Meyer couldn’t beat Helanen.
After a long drought on the shot clock, the Minutemen had a few chances of their own midway through the period. Fields made a kick save on Brad Nizwantowski’s 10-footer at 11:00, and then faced his biggest test of the night when Minuteman captain Jeff Turner burst in alone two minutes later.
The speedy centerman almost had Fields dead to rights with a five-hole shot, but the puck caromed off the inside of both pads. The goalie nearly knocked the puck in the net as he fell on it, but he kept the puck out.
However, the hard work and momentum change paid off for UMass two minutes later, when Nizwantowski picked up the puck behind the net and beat Fields with a wraparound for the equalizer.
A BU power play gave the Terriers a needed lift as the period wound down — especially when a Nizwantowski penalty made it a five-on-three. The Terriers struggled to capitalize initially but finally lit the lamp with 6.2 seconds left in the period. John Sabo’s pass from behind the goal line teed up a Corazzini one-timer in tight. The Terrier captain popped it high, and Helanen had no chance.
“It really didn’t look that good for us, coming out of the zone, there was only 18 seconds left,” Corazzini said. “We just took a wild shot on net, and Sabo was there to get it out of Helanen’s glove.
“I got a little lucky with the bounce. It was a good jumpstart for us.”
The goal looked to be the proverbial back-breaker — the dreaded goal in the last seconds of a period.
Sure enough, the Terriers scored just 1:05 into the third period, shortly before the second penalty expired, on a bit of a fluky bounce. Freddy Meyer’s left-point slap shot fooled Helanen when it bounced off the boards and right back into the slot instead of careening behind the net as expected. Jack Baker dove to sweep the puck into the vacated net.
Twenty-seven seconds later, Helanen gave up a rather soft goal when Collins came in on the left wing and fired a 15-footer between the goalie’s feet. That made it 4-1.
John Cronin scored on a long one from the right point for the fifth Terrier goal at 4:35. That goal gave BU goals in just four minutes, 42 seconds of play — easily its biggest, fastest outburst of the season.
BU (11-12-2, 8-7-2 Hockey East) faces off against crosstown rival Northeastern in the Beanpot Monday night, while UMass-Amherst (7-17-3, 6-10-1 Hockey East) travels to UMass-Lowell on Saturday.