BOSTON — What a difference two days makes.
After Wednesday’s night lackluster loss to Massachusetts, Boston University coach Jack Parker had an extended rant to deliver to his team. When they showed up for practice the next day, he ranted some more. Then he told them he didn’t want to see them again until game time tonight.
“I went after them pretty good again, just talking about how we aren’t playing hard, how we aren’t taking people seriously,” Parker said. “I got what was bothering me off my mind about individuals and about teams, and then I told them, ‘Go home. I don’t want you to practice; I don’t want you to come to the rink tomorrow; don’t come to a pregame breakfast; don’t come to a pregame meal; don’t come for a pregame skate. I’ll see you at the game Friday night.’ So they did. And they came ready to play. We got their attention anyways.”
That certainly seemed to be the case. With a much more spirited effort, the Terriers won a bit of a barnburner against crosstown rival Northeastern, blowing a two-goal lead due to some shaky goaltending by Sean Fields in the second, only to rebound in the third to tie the game and win it in OT, 4-3.
In a wild scramble of shots and rebounds at 1:58 of the fourth period, Bryan Miller finally put one in for a badly-needed win.
Sophomore David Van der Gulik led the way with a goal and pair of assists for the Terriers, while Mike Morris notched a goal and a helper in a losing effort for the Huskies. After Fields was pulled midway through the game after surrendering three goals on just four shots in the second period, Stephan Siwiec held the fort for the home team, stopping all 14 shots he faced in front of a crowd of 2,873.
“Sixty minutes of hockey were there for us for the most part other than a couple of mishaps on the power plays,” said Parker. “A lot of guys gave us great minutes. [Given that Frantisek Skladany and Gregg Johnson were healthy scratches], we only played three lines for the most part, and we kept rolling them and they played hard.
“I thought that [Jekabs] Redlihs had a big game,” added Parker. “He had a nice goal, but he played extremely well too, and I thought Siwiec played terrific when he came in. He just calmed everything down. He was never out of position; he looked real confident, so that really helped us out too.”
Husky coach Bruce Crowder shrugged off the defeat, which broke a five-game winning streak, matching their best such run since the 1988-89 season.
“They’ll be fine,” Crowder said of his young team. “The attitude’s been great with the kids on the bench, and even throughout this game it’s been good, but we took a step back, and we’ll just have to make a point of taking a step forward.”
The Terriers struggled to get any shots on the Huskies in the early going. Three Terrier power plays in the first 12 minutes produced minimal chances, continuing a disturbing trend with the man advantage this season.
With the teams playing at even strength at 15:41, the Terriers finally lit the lamp. Freshman defenseman Kevin Schaeffer got the puck at the right point and fired a shot that Van der Gulik redirected past Keni Gibson for the 1-0 lead.
In the first minute of the second period, the Terriers looked to be well on their way. Kenny Magowan picked up the puck in the left-wing corner and carried it toward the slot before teeing it up for Mark Mullen, who buried a wrister.
Then the wheels fell off the cart for Fields. On a power play at 3:18, Jason Guerriero made nice feed to Eric Ortlip low in the left-wing faceoff circle. From a bad angle, Ortlip deftly redirected it in — though it was surprising that Fields wasn’t in position to make the stop.
Less than four minutes later, the subsequent goal was the mirror image for the Huskies: On another power play, Tim Judy and Jon Awe set up Mike Morris low in the right-wing faceoff circle. Once again, Fields was unable to thwart the bad-angle shot, and the game was tied.
Off of a faceoff at 8:59, Trevor Reschny beat Fields through the five-hole on a seven-footer, and the senior was pulled shortly thereafter. Siwiec came up big within two minutes, thwarting Ray Ortiz with a pad save on a breakaway. He also made a nice glove save on Brian Swinarski at 16:12.
“I told the team at the end of the second period, ‘Hey, guys, we’re down by a goal tonight, but it’s like night and day between how I felt when we were down by a goal two nights ago. Because tonight we’re playing hard, and I love the way we’re playing tonight, and I couldn’t stand how we were playing two nights ago,’” Parker said.
“They both were exactly the same situation — down by a goal against a Hockey East opponent in our own building — but I certainly felt a lot better about my team.”
Sure enough, Redlihs’ first goal of the year at 4:35 of the third tied it up for the Terriers. Receiving the puck high in the left-wing faceoff circle, the Latvian native got off a pinpoint wrister that landed in the net high on the stick side.
BU endured some anxious moments when Bryan Miller drew a penalty with less than three minutes left in regulation. Magowan had to play without a stick in his own end for a good 20 seconds, but ultimately Siwiec made the save, setting the stage for Miller’s OT winner.
“Your view of it probably was better than mine,” Miller told the press corps. “Vandy went into the corner and caused some commotion. It kind of popped out of the corner, and I saw Whitney coming to the net, tried to get it to him. He got a good shot on net, and Vandy was in front of the net causing some more commotion out front, tying up their defenseman, kind of left the puck loose for me, and I just tried to get it toward the net.”
Miller felt that Parker’s message had had an impact.
“I think it was kind of needed,” Miller said. “Not too much was working the last couple of games. I don’t know if it was Coach’s last resort, but it was a real shock to the team.”
Northeastern (5-10-2, 1-8-1) will attempt to get back on track against Holy Cross on Saturday night. The Terriers play a home-and-home series against archrival Boston College next weekend.
The Terriers now have a record of 6-6-6. Oddly enough, their records this season also have included 2-2-2, 3-3-3, 4-4-4, and 5-5-5.