BOSTON — The Boston University Terriers may not have closed out the Walter Brown Arena the way they had hoped, losing to Minnesota 2-1, but they certainly opened the Harry Agganis Arena the right way. Riding netminder John Curry’s 22 saves and goals by Brad Zancanaro and Peter MacArthur, BU toppled the top-ranked Gophers, 2-1.
The Terriers never trailed, getting Zancanaro’s goal at 6:15 of the first period. After Kris Chucko evened the game midway through the second, MacArthur’s power-play goal later in the period provided the winning margin.
Zancanaro also became an instant trivia question answer by scoring the first goal at Agganis Arena one day after scoring the final one at Walter Brown Arena.
Curry, a Minnesota native who has gone from walk-on status to the Hockey East Goalie of the Month in October and December, noted that he’d had preseason daydreams about winning this game.
“I grew up watching the Gophers and to play in something special and beat them is even more special,” he said. “But the team focus was more on beating the number one team in the nation and not the event itself. But that’s easier said than done. It was a pretty big deal and hard to look past.”
BU coach Jack Parker credited the Gophers and their stature with keeping his team on track amidst the hoopla of opening the new arena.
“I was unbelievably distracted because of all our former players being around,” he said. “I’m giving them tours and finding tickets. I personally made a mess of that myself and had to go fix it all the time. Because I was so distracted, I was concerned that maybe our guys would be distracted.
“[So] it was great that we played Minnesota. If we played somebody that wasn’t the number one team in the nation, we might have been a little distracted by all the fanfare of the whole building. But with the number one team in the nation waiting to play us and right in our face, we had to get ready to play.”
Minnesota coach Don Lucia described the contrasting nature of the two games.
“Last night we were able to play with the lead; tonight they were able to play with the lead,” he said. “The difference [was] last night we scored two power-play goals to their one; tonight they scored one to our none.
“I’m not disappointed with the result. I’m happy that we were able to come out here and compete against a good quality team in Boston University and get a split under these circumstances.”
BU avoided the problem it had experienced one night earlier when it dug itself a hole, falling behind 2-0 before making an unsuccessful comeback attempt. This time, the Terriers got on the scoreboard first just 6:15 into the Agganis Arena Era. Zancanaro took a terrific pass from Ryan Monaghan, split the defense and snapped a low shot past Kellen Briggs from 15 feet out.
A minute later, however, Minnesota put together back-to-back opportunities that could easily have turned the one-goal BU lead into a deficit. First, Tyler Hirsch took a home run pass at the blue line and broke in alone on Curry only to have the goaltender take enough of the net away to force a shot wide of the net. Soon after, Hirsch had an even more golden opportunity when Mike Vannelli fed him on the far post where he had the entire net to shovel it in, but instead the chance merely went into the “couldn’t throw a puck in the ocean” category.
Five minutes into the second period, Curry made a huge glove save on — you guessed it — Hirsch after a defensive zone turnover. Ironically, the two are friends, having played a lot together in their days before college.
Curry couldn’t stop Kris Chucko at 8:44, however, as the freshman shot through traffic as he moved left-to-right in the slot. The game-tying goal was his fifth of the season.
The Terriers almost regained the lead on a Monaghan deflection of a Dan McGoff shot, but it only clanged iron.
At 16:26, however, a power-play goal by Peter MacArthur made the 2-1 lead a reality. MacArthur corralled the puck in the slot and with the quick-release precision that has made him one of the top Terrier snipers buried his 10th goal of the season.
Minnesota swarmed in the third period beginning with a power play at 7:20 during which Curry was forced to make some big stops, most notably a pad save on Barry Tallackson. Even after returning to even strength the Gophers continued to apply pressure, but Curry remained up to the challenge until BU was able to keep the puck out of its defensive zone in the closing minute.
Minnesota (16-5-0) returns to league action next weekend against Colorado College. Boston University (12-7-0) faces Northeastern.
BU forward Chris Bourque, who had been playing for Team USA in the World Junior Tournament, suffered a knee injury there and is expected to be out two-to-four weeks.