BOSTON — Boston University fans would have been hard-pressed to predict two of the top three stars for tonight’s game.
Terrier junior forward Kenny Magowan narrowly avoided a healthy scratch after disappointing Coach Jack Parker with his play in the last two games. Playing behind stalwart netminder Sean Fields, sophomore goaltender Stephan Siwiec hadn’t played a minute in almost a year and came into tonight’s action with one career win and a .839 save percentage.
But when the zamboni came out after the final buzzer, Magowan had scored the game’s first two goals in the first six minutes. Staked to a 4-0 lead in the first period, Siwiec came up big later on when his teammates regressed a bit, stopping 30 of 31 shots to lead the Terriers to a rousing 6-1 win over their Merrimack in front of 3,453 fans at Walter Brown Arena.
Magowan’s linemate Brad Zancanaro also had a terrific game, pitching in a shorthanded goal and two assists. Derek Kilduff scored the lone goal for the losers.
The game marked the first time this season that Parker had reunited last year’s line combination of Zancanaro, Magowan, and Skladany. It certainly won’t be the last time.
“Actually, I came pretty close to benching Magowan tonight,” Parker said. “I was undecided; he was playing on our third line, and I thought he didn’t play that well last night. There was a question of how can I get this guy going: he’s not playing that well; he didn’t play well against UNH. I was thinking of benching him and telling him he’s not good enough.
“I chatted with him and decided I’d put him back on his old line to see if I could get him going,” Parker added. “He obviously got jacked up a little bit. I thought Skladany was flying and so was Zancanaro; he looked like a waterbug out there. So we’ll keep them together.”
Keyed by that line, four first-period goals all but ended the game in the first 15 minutes.
“We dug ourselves a pretty good hole in the first period and couldn’t get out of it,” Merrimack Coach Chris Serino said. “Probably the biggest call of the game was the goal callback when the score was two-nothing; that changed the whole complexion of the game. I’d have to see it on tape, but I didn’t think he kicked it in; I think it just went off his skate. It seemed to go downhill after that.”
“Well, we got some goals, and that was nice,” Parker said. “We played pretty hard until we got up 5-1, then I thought we deteriorated a little bit. I thought Siwiec played extremely well. Once it got to be out of hand score-wise, we didn’t play as thoroughly; he had to make a lot of big saves. I was pleased with him.”
One night after outshooting the Warriors in their own building but settling for a tie, the Terriers came out like gangbusters. They scored just 55 seconds into play. Dan Spang took a little wrister from the left point, and Warrior goalie Casey Guenther left a fat rebound in the slot. Defenseman Rob LaLonde wisely opted to tackle Magowan, but the big forward still managed to knock home a backhander while he was getting dragged down.
Magowan got a little lucky on his second goal on a power play at 5:55. With his back to the net, he tipped Kevin Schaeffer’s shot, but Guenther blocked it with his pad. However, the rebound caromed off of the shaft of the goalie’s stick and bled across the goal line to make it 2-0.
The power-play goal was just the third of the season for the Terriers, who had been skunked on their previous 22 man advantages this season.
A few minutes later on a power play, Merrimack put one past Siwiec only to have it disallowed when referee John Gravallese ruled that Tony Johnson had directed the puck in with his skate. On the Fox Sports New England replay, it appeared that Johnson did not kick the puck in, but he did turn his skate to redirect the puck.
“I knew it hit his foot; I wasn’t sure if he kicked it or not,” Siwiec said.
At 9:36, the Terriers got a nice one when David Klema carried the puck in on the left wing and scanned the ice for a pass recipient. Kenny Roche was cruising into the slot, with his stick wound up, just begging Klema to tee one up for him. He did just that, and Roche responded with a blast from all of about ten feet away from Guenther. The netminder got a piece of it, but once again the puck trickled in.
“Any time you play in this building, the first ten minutes of the game is crucial,” Serino said. “They come at you extremely hard, and you have to survive that first ten minutes-I don’t care who you are. If you do, it settles into a pretty good game.”
Shorthanded at 14:31, Zancanaro picked Tony Johnson’s pocket in the neutral zone and went in all alone. He deked and patiently waited for Guenther to commit before calming flipping it past the fallen goalie for the 4-0 lead.
Siwiec faced his biggest test of the night in the last ten seconds of the period, when Merrimack’s leading scorer Brent Gough had a partial breakaway. Gough’s shot hit Siwiec high on the chest, and the Alberta native smothered the rebound.
Serino pulled Guenther after the period, inserting Jim Healey for the remainder of the game. “I didn’t see any reason to keep him in there while he was struggling,” Serino said.
Merrimack came out much stronger in the second period and really took it to the Terriers on an early power play quarterbacked by Bryan Schmidt. Siwiec had to come up with three solid saves, including a Marco Rosa blast that pegged him right on the mask.
“The face save was. I don’t know, I guess my head was just in the right place at the right time,” Siwiec said, drawing chuckles from the press corps.
BU made it 5-0 at 6:38 when Klema got the puck behind the goal line and fed it to David Van der Gulik crashing the net. Eighty seconds later, Merrimack finally lit the lamp when Kilduff found his way to a loose puck behind a scrum of players in the slot and blasted a shot to beat the screened goalie.
The game got a little chippy with some dumb penalties committed by both teams along with some dubious calls by Gravallese against both teams. Both teams squandered lengthy five-on-three opportunities. Siwiec stoned Nick Pomponio at 8:43 of the third after a careless turnover by a Terrier d-man. Later, Rob Lalonde — who had already taken one bad penalty — drew a five-minute major for cross-checking Skladany just after a failed breakaway bid. This led to the final goal, as a Bryan Miller shot was tipped by Mark Mullen and then John Laliberte before, again, bleeding across the goal line with 43.7 seconds left to play.
The Terriers (3-2-2, 2-2-1 Hockey East) play a home-and-home series with Mass.-Lowell next weekend, while Merrimack (2-7-2, 1-5-2 Hockey East) plays at Boston College on Tuesday before hosting Bemidji State for a pair next weekend.