DURHAM, N.H. — A year ago, almost to the day, he recorded his career high in regular-season saves against New Hampshire. Although he didn’t quite match the 45 stops of that evening, Boston University goaltender Sean Fields was the difference in another slugfest with UNH, this time a 3-2 win.
BU was outshot for the first time all season and by a large margin, 44-25. A good portion of that disparity came on the six Wildcat power plays during which they mustered 12 shots, including most of their best opportunities.
“When you’re killing five-on-threes, you’re not going to stop them from getting great chances and you’ve got to get great goaltending and that’s what happened,” said BU coach Jack Parker. “But also, we didn’t get too extended. We didn’t give them any open-net goals, we didn’t give them any scramble goals, which can happen on five-on-threes. And this is a tough rink not to get extended in because it’s such a big rink.
“Especially in the second period, we had to move like hell to help Fieldsie out after he made some big saves. I think we covered for him pretty well.
“Markie Mullen gave us another great game. He had a terrific weekend for us. He killed most of the five-on-threes.”
Parker was far less pleased with the officiating by John Gravellese, especially the failure to call a hitting from behind major penalty after Freddy Meyer was leveled in apparent retaliation for an unwhistled leg check.
“It was nice to do such a great job killing penalties,” said Parker. “The way the game was called, we had to kill a lot of penalties.”
He paused for effect and said again, “The way the game was called, we had to kill a lot of penalties.
“I’m concerned about hitting from behind, which is a dangerous part of the game. I’m concerned about hitting from behind and so is the NCAA rulebook concerned about hitting from behind. They want to make sure that we call that.”
After Parker was asked to clarify his comment, he said, “I’m referring to a lot of times. I know that hitting from behind is a situation that supposedly is going to be emphasized all the time. And we’ll have it emphasized in the future. I don’t think it was emphasized tonight.”
As a result of the win, Boston University (4-1-2, 2-1-0 HEA) finishes the weekend with four Hockey East points, all on the road, having also defeated Northeastern, 7-6, on Friday. New Hampshire (3-1-2, 1-1-1 HEA) must settle for two of the four league points available; the Wildcats rallied to squeeze past Merrimack, 4-3, one night earlier at home.
“It was a disappointing game because I thought the team played real hard,” said UNH coach Dick Umile. “Obviously BU is good hockey team, but I thought our team played very well tonight and I told them I was proud of their effort. The puck just didn’t bounce for us and obviously bounced for them.
“It might be the overall best game that we’ve played, but we came out with a loss. That’s how the game goes sometimes…. Some of our best scoring chances didn’t go in. It’s a crazy game sometimes.”
Boston University quieted the crowd early by scoring twice in the span of 33 seconds. David Klema one-timed a slapshot from the slot at 14:47 to start the sequence and Brian McConnell made it a 2-0 Terrier lead by converting a nice pass in front from Meyer in the left corner.
Within two minutes, a UNH penalty threatened to put the Wildcats in a major hole. Instead, they killed that penalty effectively and with 27 seconds left in the period Colin Hemingway jammed in the rebound of a Lanny Gare shot.
The major momentum shift carried over into the second period territorially, but not on the scoreboard. During three UNH power plays in a six-minute stretch, including a 43-second five-on-three, the Wildcats generated seven shots, including several terrific opportunities. BU goaltender Sean Fields, however, was up to the challenge each time.
“It felt good out there,” he said. “I was having fun. The crowd was into it, I was into it and our team was into it. There was a lot of emotion. It was a big game and it was fun out there.”
By the midway point of the period, UNH held an overall 27-9 shot advantage, but still trailed, 2-1. At 15:55, BU went on a pivotal power play. The Wildcats almost got a shorthanded equalizer when Steve Saviano picked Jekabs Redlihs’ pocket at the BU defensive blue line and broke in on a breakaway. Once again, however, Fields came up big.
Having dodged that bullet, the BU power play capitalized. A minute after Klema was unable to control the puck on the weak-side post and put it into a wide-open net, Justin Maiser beat Michael Ayers cleanly to seize the 3-1 lead. From behind the net, Maiser swung in front and stuffed it past a surprised Ayers.
Desperately in need of a score as the third period opened, UNH got exactly that at the 42-second mark. Hemingway kicked the puck out of his skates and then used Josh Prudden at the far post to freeze Fields before ripping a shot into the top corner.
Ayers kept UNH in striking distance with back-to-back saves on Steve Greeley from point-blank range, but the Wildcats were unable to put a third goal past Fields.