BOSTON — Going into the second half of this season, Friar sophomore Bobby Goepfert asked Coach Paul Pooley what he expected of him the rest of the way.
“We expect you to steal us some games,” Pooley told his netminder. “And tonight he stole us a game, on the road.”
That certainly was the case. Boston University played an outstanding first period and almost as well in the second. It could have easily been 3-0 Terriers after 40 minutes; instead it was scoreless. BU didn’t let up much in the third, but when the crowd of 2,762 left Walter Brown Arena, the Friars had stolen a 2-0 victory after Cody Loughlean and Jonathan Goodwin broke through against Sean Fields in the final period.
“Bend but don’t break, and it’s a good road win — simple as that,” Pooley said.
The game was certainly a dramatic contrast to BU’s 6-4 win at Providence, when Goepfert surrendered four goals on just 13 shots and was pulled less than two minutes into the second period.
“As good as Bobby was tonight, he was as bad the first game,” Pooley said. “We had to pull him. Tonight was a good test for him. He loves the pressure; he loves the atmosphere with fans chanting at him. He’s coming through for us. When we recruited Bobby, this was the kind of games we expected from him.”
It wasn’t the first time this year that BU Coach Jack Parker saw his team look great everywhere except in the win column.
“I think we played as well as we can play,” Parker say. “We outattempted them 83-38, outshot them 41-22 [official shots were 36-20]. The last time we played Providence, we ran this goalie out of the building; they had to pull him. Tonight he looked like Ken Dryden… No, Grant Fuhr — he’s not as tall as Ken Dryden — He was spectacular; he made some unbelievable saves.
“We were in control of the game all the time, except on the scoreboard.”
Just three games after the Terriers were involved in a game with Maine that produced a league record of 246 penalty minutes with Tim Benedetto blowing the whistle, referee John Gravallese and assistant referees John Jones and James Brown seemed hell-bent on calling as close to a penalty-free game as possible. Only a call on Friar Tory Gajda halfway through the third period kept the game from the tying the Hockey East record of zero penalty minutes in one game, set by Massachusetts and Boston College on January 7, 2002. Curiously, that game also was officiated by Benedetto.
Most blatantly, the smallest Terrier on the ice — centerman Brad Zancanaro — was crosschecked down by chippy Friar freshman Bill McCreary 30 seconds into the third. There was a great deal of holding and grabbing, but no calls were made, even when an Assistant Referee apparently was looking right at the play.
“There’s a league rule that says the assistant referee is supposed to call stuff that he thinks the referee doesn’t see, to help him out,” Parker said when asked about the non-calls. “That wasn’t the case tonight. Like I said, there were a lot of penalties tonight. There was only one penalty called, but there were a lot of penalties tonight. But Bobby Goepfert won that game, not the referees.
“But it would have been nice to get a couple of penalties. There was a lot of tackling and grabbing and mauling out front. Give them credit: As many chances as we had, they kept us from getting to that third rebound at least. They really got into us pretty good, but that’s the way that goes.”
In contrast, Pooley gave a thumbs-up to the laissez-faire officiating. “I thought Gravo let us play,” Pooley said. “At this time of year, with two teams fighting for spots, I think that’s a nice way to be refereed quite honestly. He didn’t determine the game.”
Identical twins Brad and Tony Zancanaro faced off against each other to open a game coached by two men who themselves are twins. The Terriers dominated the first period, as captain Mark Mullen played exceptionally well. At 10:14, Terrier defenseman Ryan Whitney threaded a gorgeous pass to Mullen, springing him on a breakaway.
“You want to hear something weird?” Goepfert said when asked about he subsequent sequence of events. “The beginning of the game I saw Mullen out there, and I remembered he scored on me in a previous game — that was a bad game I had — but I remembered he scored over here [on my stick side] and for some funny reason I was thinking ‘I wonder what he’s going to do if he comes in on a breakaway? I think he’s going to shoot it to that side [again].’”
That’s exactly what happened, and Goepfert made the save. The Kings Park, N.Y. native got a little help from defenseman Dinos Stamoulis at 16:15, when the freshman stopped a shot by one of BU’s fourth-liners, either Steve Greeley or Eric Thomassian, that was ticketed for the corner.
In the second period, Steve Greeley delivered the check of his life at 5:30, sending Stamoulis — and himself — sprawling in the process.
The line of Kenny Roche, Matt Radoslovich, and John Laliberte had the most golden opportunities for the Terriers tonight. Roche made a nice play to set himself up for a backhander at 15:15, and Radoslovich was stopped two minutes into the third when his linemates set him up for a great chance on the glove side, only to have Goepfert produce the amazing save.
Before the last period, Pooley told his troops to look for a goal off a face-off, a rebound, or a transition play, and they came up with a transition goal at 4:45. Breaking in to the BU zone, Peter Zingoni passed to Chris Chaput on his left wing, then shot once Chaput returned the pass. Fields made the save, but Loughlean banged home the rebound for what proved to be the game-winner.
“The first goal was offside by a mile — no question,” Parker said.
At 12:45, Goepfert dodged a bullet when Laliberte looked for the wraparound, didn’t have it, and wisely opted to pass to Radoslovich breaking in from the point. Rado’s shot beat Goepfert but hit the stick-side post and came straight out, where the goalie smothered it.
The Friars basically sealed it at 16:01. Following a wild scramble in front of the BU net, Jonathan Goodwin backhanded home a shot that slipped through Fields’ five-hole to make it 2-0. That’s the way it stayed, but Goepfert almost put a little icing on the cake, just missing wide when he took a shot at the Terrier net with under ten seconds left.
“Oh, man, I would have died,” Goepfert said. “A shutout and a goal; that’s what a goalie dreams about.”
Next up, the Terriers (8-11-6, 4-10-2 Hockey East) will dream about upsetting Boston College in Monday night’s Beanpot Championship, while Providence (11-9-6, 3-8-5) plays at Mass.-Lowell on Sunday afternoon.