BOSTON, Mass. — Team A goes three-for-six on the power play, while Team B gets skunked with nine man advantages. Who wins?
In this case, it was Team B as in Boston University. Despite getting blanked on nine power plays, the Terriers scored twice while down a man — including a crowd-stirring penalty-shot goal by Gregg Johnson — to pave the way for a 6-4 win over Nebraska-Omaha.
In the first-ever Walter Brown Arena game between the two schools, a crowd of 3,189 watched John Laliberte, David Klema, and Matt Radoslovich each notch a goal and an assist for the victors, while Maverick co-captain Greg Zanon did the same in a losing effort.
“I will field no questions about our power play,” Terrier Coach Jack Parker said to the amusement of the press corps. “In general, that’s the type of game we’ve got to play as far as shot opportunities — controlling the other team in our zone and doing a good job of getting the other team out of our zone.
“I like the territorial advantage: Total shots attempted today was 75,” added Parker. “Last week we attempted 86. We’re going after the net.”
Parker was also pleased by the first regular-season outing by goaltender Stephan Siewic. “The thing I really wanted to see was how Stephan Siewic would play,” Parker said. “The score was tight, and he played very, very well. He did a real good job for his first game as a freshman.”
Maverick Coach Mike Kemp took little consolation in his team’s power-play performance.
“We obviously took a lot of unnecessary penalties — you’re killing close to half a game; you’re killing 25 minutes,” said Kemp. “You’re playing a team of their caliber; even though they didn’t score a power-play goal, you’re wearing out the same people killing penalties, and all of a sudden you get to five-on-five situations and you’ve gassed them in the special teams situation. It’s very difficult to overcome that.”
Early on, the Mavericks matched up well with the Terriers, as both teams showed good speed and physical play. The Terriers scored the first goal of the game halfway through the first period. Brian Collins picked up the puck behind the goal line and slipped a backhanded pass to Justin Maiser crashing the net. The left winger one-timed it home. Maverick goalie Dan Ellis had no time to react.
At the 18-minute mark, Gregg Johnson had a shorthanded breakaway, and Maverick D-man Greg Zanon lost hold of his stick while attempting to break up the play from behind. Referee Joe Andrews immediately called for a penalty shot after Skladany’s subsequent shot was stopped.
The crowd was on its feet and roared as Johnson skated in on Ellis, pushing the puck in front of him before shifting it onto his forehand as a lefty shot. His seven-footer beat Ellis stick-side to make it 2-0.
Just after the first of two Terrier penalties elapsed on a brief five-on-three power play for UNO, the Mavericks cut the margin in half. David Brisson nicely intercepted Freddy Meyer’s attempt to wrap the puck behind the net and up the left-wing boards. The Mavericks’ all-time leading scorer hit Scotty Turner crashing the net, and it was 2-1.
BU took a 3-1 lead in the second when Bryan Miller threaded a gorgeous, last-second pass just before getting tied up by a defender, slipping the puck to David Klema on his left wing. Klema beat Ellis high on the stick side.
Playing in his first game of the season — probably because of the Terriers’ dismal effort in a 5-3 loss on Tuesday versus Merrimack — sophomore Matt Radoslovich scored his first collegiate goal midway through the game. He fired a shot from the right wing faceoff circle over the outstretched leg and glove of Ellis.
Then two Terrier penalties in seven seconds resulted in two Maverick goals in the span of 31 seconds. At 13:11, UNO got a fluky one when a Zanon pass bounced off of Brian Miller’s leg. The puck rolled through traffic and then Siwiec’s five-hole for a soft goal. Seconds later, Mike Lefley also got his first collegiate goal when he deftly redirected a Zanon shot from the point. Suddenly BU had just a 4-3 lead.
Minutes later, Maverick defenseman Chris Claffey received a five-minute major and a game misconduct for hitting from behind, but the Terriers couldn’t capitalize.
Within a minute of successfully withstanding the second of two penalties, the Mavericks tied the game at four apiece, only to have Terrier freshman John Laliberte score 49 seconds later on a high wrister after picking up a loose puck in the right faceoff circle.
“I was backing my D-man up,” Laliberte said. “He had pinched, and the puck was coming out to the blue line. They kind of gave me a little room there. They gave me some space so I brought it to the middle, looked where I had to shoot. Coach was saying stick side all night, so that’s where I put it.”
Ellis did his best to keep the Mavericks in the game for the next several minutes, making some great stops — especially when shorthanded. “That kid is one of the best goaltenders in college hockey,” Parker said. “To get six on him tonight was pretty good. Shooting percentage wasn’t great — he got a lot of saves — but we still got six.”
The Terriers looked to seal it with 4:42 left when Brad Zancanaro made a quick rush and incredible move to get an improbable shot on goal. Mark Mullen whacked at the rebound — the puck went off the crossbar and — appeared to land partially across the goal line. But the red light never went on, and Andrews waved it off.
This proved irrelevant when Brian McConnell’s shorthanded breakaway gave BU a two-goal cushion with under four minutes left. The sophomore opted to shoot rather than deke, and he grazed the puck off the inside post for yet another high stick-side goal.
“We’re pressing, we make a bad decision trying to hold the puck in the blue line, the puck kicks out, and it’s just a really good play,” Kemp said. “Of course Brian McConnell made a great shot. No goalie’s going to stop that shot. Patrick Roy doesn’t stop that shot.”
The Terriers (2-1-2) travel across town to play Northeastern next Friday night before going up to UNH on Saturday. UNO (2-3-0) visits UMass-Amherst on Sunday afternoon before hosting a pair against Western Michigan next weekend.