CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — After a disappointing game against arch-rival Boston College on Saturday night, Boston University threatened to repeat their dismal showing against Harvard, looking shaky in the first period and falling behind 1-0.
Instead, the fifth-ranked Terriers (7-1-1) exploded with a five-goal second period on their way to a decisive 8-4 victory in a non-conference game characterized by erratic play and uneven performances by both sides, particularly in goal.
“At times it was a very thorough game for us, and at times it was a very inept game for us,” Terrier Coach Jack Parker said. “I don’t think we played very well the first half of the first period at all. They were all over us; we were jumpy, doing the same things we were doing the last game out.
“Then we came out in the second period, got the goal, and that ignited us, but we can’t stand prosperity either: We took stupid penalties again; we let guys walk in alone on non-backchecks; we absolutely positively made some mental mistakes that cost us goals.
“But we had the resiliency to keep coming back, answering every time they scored.”
BU’s third line continues to surprise, as Gregg Johnson notched his first collegiate hat trick while Frantisek Skladany contributed a goal and three assists in front of a sellout crowd of 2,776 at the Bright Hockey Center.
Although Johnson came into the game with a team-leading eight assists, he didn’t appear like the most likely candidate to pull off the Terrier’s first hat trick of the season-he had not scored a goal since last Feb. 17 against Providence.
“It’s been a long time since I scored,” Johnson said. “I hadn’t had one this year yet, so the first one got the monkey off my back. After that I just kept shooting, and things started going in the net for me.”
Tim Pettit scored two power-play goals in a losing effort for the Crimson (3-3-1).
“[A high-scoring game] is not to our advantage,” Harvard Coach Mark Mazzoleni said. “We like to play a counter-game but not where it gets back and forth like that. For the first period, we did a pretty good job of keeping away their space.
“I thought [BU was] opportunistic on their power play. I thought our freshman goaltender struggled. But you can’t take anything away from them, they were the deserving victors.”
The Terriers found themselves in the doghouse early on, as the Crimson dominated the early going. At 0:54, after a quick sequence of power-play shots, Harvard centerman Dominic Moore backhander was stopped by Terrier goalie Sean Fields, who played very well in the first, when his performance was most critical.
Another Terrier penalty gave the Crimson the chance they needed to get on the scoreboard. At 15:05, defenseman Peter Capouch and winger Tim Pettit slipped passes back and forth from the center and left point respectively, as traffic milled through the crease like shooting-gallery ducks. Pettit finally fired a blistering slapshot that evaded the crowd and grazed the left post high on the glove side before wedging in the back of the net.
It was Pettit’s team-leading fifth goal of the season, making it 1-0 for the Crimson.
On a power play late in the period, Dominic Moore backhanded a low shot that Fields failed to put the lid on, and the puck looked like it might cross the goal line at tortoise pace before Fields pounced on it.
After a lackluster first, the Terriers rebounded dramatically after the intermission. Their first goal showed off some good chemistry between fellow freshmen Justin Maiser and Ryan Whitney. Maiser carried the puck behind the cage before spying the big defenseman cruising in from the point and fired a pass through the slot. Whitney buried it, beating freshman goalie Dov Grumet-Morris to make it a 1-1 game at 3:20.
Less than four minutes later, the Terriers took the lead with a little help from a missed call. A Terrier did a nice job of gloving a high clearing attempt near the blue line, and the puck floated past a Crimson defender and onto another BU player’s stick. The officials missed the apparent hand pass, and seconds later Frantisek Skladany stuffed home the rebound of a Kenny Magowan shot to make it 2-1.
The Terrier power play also roared to life, as the night’s new first line of Maiser, Brian McConnell, and senior co-captain Mike Pandolfo showed off some tic-tac-toe passing across the slot before Pandolfo finished the play on Grumet-Morris’ stick side at 10:55.
At 14:59, the Terriers scored again with the man advantage, as Whitney threaded a pass to McConnell at the bottom of the right-wing faceoff circle before McConnell fired an incredible bad -angle shot into the short side of the net.
The rout appeared to be on — except for the fact that Harvard won the subsequent faceoff and proceeded to go into the BU zone and score 10 seconds later. Freshman Rob Flynn notched his first collegiate goal on the play, deking to get Fields down before shifting to his backhand for the shot and goal.
The Terriers gained a little breathing room when sophomore Gregg Johnson picked up the puck in the right-wing faceoff circle and skated across the slot before beating Grumet-Morris five-hole to make it 5-2 at 17:35.
Harvard couldn’t stop the bleeding in the third, as BU scored their third power-play goal of the evening. Johnson got his second of the night with a picturesque tip of a Kenny Magowan shot from the right point at 1:39.
The Crimson made it 6-3 at 4:25, when Tom Cavanagh made a nice pass from the left-wing boards to Rob Fried to set up a one-timer for the goal. Then Harvard made it 6-4 at 7:48 when Fields failed to handle a Pettit slapshot from the left point, as the puck went off of Fields’ glove, over his shoulder, and puttered across the goal line.
Harvard had all the momentum — temporarily. BU dodged a few bullets before John Sabo redirected a pass past Grumet-Morris at 12:06 to make it 7-4, icing the outcome.
Johnson completed his first career hat trick at 17:40.
BU hosts Cornell for a pair of non-conference games on Saturday and Sunday, while Harvard travels to Boston College on Friday for their lone game of Thanksgiving Weekend.