BOSTON, Mass. — Boston University doesn’t seem to mind giving their opponents a head start.
For the 10th time this season, the Terriers picked up a come-from-behind victory, twice rallying from one-goal deficits before putting away UMass-Amherst 4-2 in front of 2,928 fans at Walter Brown Arena.
Jack Baker and Mike Pandolfo each put up a goal and an assist. For Terrier co-captain Pandolfo, the assist gave him his 100th collegiate point. Terrier goalie Jason Tapp made 19 saves and was only solved by Minuteman freshman Greg Mauldin, who now leads his team with 11 goals for the season.
But the Terriers were happy about putting in one their best 60-minute efforts of the year — even though some might have been expecting them to be looking ahead toward Monday night’s Beanpot Championship against Northeastern.
“I thought we came to play tonight,” Terrier Coach Jack Parker said. “Everybody talks about the pre-Beanpot wariness, but other than last year, we’ve done pretty well in the Friday night before the Beanpot Final.
“I was real surprised at how hard we came out in the first period; we did a great job jumping them and moving our legs.”
The Terriers are now 18-7-2. Ten of their wins and both of their ties came in games that the team trailed at some point.
“It’s amazing,” Parker said of the stat. “There’s been a number of games we’ve been down two-nothing — the Beanpot we were down two-nothing — and come back. It’s character and attitude.
“We don’t score a lot of goals, so it’s not easy to come back. But we’ve done a pretty good job to just keep hanging in there. The amazing part about it — especially early on — they’d get a goal, and we’d get one back within a minute.”
Said Pandolfo, “We just try to stay pumped up on the bench even if the other team does come out and grab the lead. Guys know that if we keep battling, we’re going to get our bounces too.”
Meanwhile, Minuteman Coach Don “Toot” Cahoon dissected the game so thoroughly in his opening statement that the press corps simply let the prosecution rest.
“I thought there were three things that were factors tonight,” Cahoon said. “Their speed through the rink early in the game put us on our heels; secondly, I thought we really struggled through the middle of the rink ourselves moving the puck — so we never created any offense off the rush even when we had chances with the puck — and third, we didn’t convert on the few opportunities that we had — that’s been a problem all season.”
The Terriers dominated territorially in the early going, peppering Minuteman goalie Mike Johnson with numerous shots. In particular, John Sabo played with renewed vigor following his first career multi-goal game in Monday night’s Beanpot opener. Sabo had about three chances in the first ten minutes.
But despite being outshot to the tune of 8-2 in the first nine minutes, UMass-Amherst startled the crowd with the first goal of the game. Freshman Greg Mauldin picked up the puck behind the BU goal line and skated toward the top of the crease. When Terrier goalie Jason Tapp attempted the pokecheck, the centerman slipped it under him.
BU got a goal waved off for being kicked in shortly afterwards. Despite the bum luck, though, the Terriers didn’t let up at all and were soon rewarded with a power play and the tying goal.
At the right point, Chris Dyment slipped the puck down to Jack Baker near the goal line on his side. Baker spied Brian McConnell parked just outside the far side of the crease and hit him with the pass for the easy tap-in at 14:37.
Things were looking up for the Terriers going into the second period, but Tapp surrendered a soft one to give the Minutemen their second lead of the night at 1:16. Nick Kuiper took a shot from the point; Tapp stopped it easily but left a fat rebound floating away from the crease. Tim Turner fanned on it while a Terrier pushed him away, and Mauldin sunk a 15-foot putt through the screen as Tapp flailed after the puck a little too late.
History repeated, however, as the Terriers knotted the score once again on a power-play goal. This time Freddy Meyer fired a long cross-ice pass out of his end. Samuli Jalkanen got a piece of the puck, but not enough to keep it from the intended recipient Mike Pandolfo. The Terrier co-captain fired home the backhander to make it 2-2 at 3:58.
Mauldin could have had an early hat trick at 9:28, but Tapp stacked his pads to deny a great rebound chance.
Sabo again looked great halfway through the second, pestering Darcy King enough to knock over the pesky forward, negating the UMass power play.
BU finally enjoyed its first lead of the night at 14:11. Brian Collins’ pass gave Pandolfo a partial breakaway, but he couldn’t corral the puck well enough for a solid shot. He followed the puck to the boards, though, and fired a pass to Mark Mullen for a wrist shot and a goal. The assist was Pandolfo’s 100th collegiate point.
“I knew coming into the year I was pretty close [to 100 points],” Pandolfo said, “but I was more concerned with turning it around and having a better year than we did last year.”
“[Pandolfo] has just progressively gotten better every single year,” Parker said. “He had a tough time coming in trying to be his older brother — Jay was such a big star here, a Hobey Baker finalist a couple of years, All-American.
“He’s a different type of player than his brother, but he’s certainly a heck of a player and just as valuable to us now as Jay was then.”
Jack Baker followed with a bad-angle shot that led to the fourth goal — certainly one that Johnson would have liked back, as the puck bounced off his pad and in to make it 4-2.
BU kept pressing steadily in the third, but generally there weren’t many chances either way. The biggest news of the frame was another BU injury — with just five minutes left in the game, Frantisek Skladany appeared to catch a tip before rolling over and getting in the hit into the boards to boot.
Afterwards, Parker acknowledged that the Slovakian native had an ankle injury, but it was too soon to say how long he would be out. As it is, the Terriers figure to be without defenseman Pat Aufiero (ankle tendon) and Gregg Johnson (ribs) for Monday’s Beanpot Championship.
Meanwhile, the Minutemen (8-20-1) travels to UMass-Lowell on Saturday night, trying to turn around a tailspin: UMass-Amherst now has a 1-10-1 record in its last 12 games.