BOSTON — Nothing could have been better for No. 2 Boston College this weekend, thanks to the fact that they gave No. 8 Boston University a whole lot of nothing in the first Hockey East game played at Agganis Arena.
Lulling a sellout crowd of 6,224, BC put together a terrific defensive effort against archrival BU, limiting the Terriers to just 14 shots despite surrendering six power plays. Senior Matti Kaltiainen was rarely tested on his way to the shutout. Ryan Shannon scored the only goal that mattered halfway through, flatly beating the backchecking David Van der Gulik to bury a Patrick Eaves pass that appeared to carom off the skate of BU’s Bryan Miller before landing on Shannon’s stick for the redirect to the far post.
Patrick Eaves added an empty-net goal for BC, while Terrier goalie John Curry was a bright spot in defeat, stopping 25 of 26 shots.
“I thought that 21 people played great tonight: 20 people on the BC team and my goaltender,” BU Coach Jack Parker said. “Curry played absolutely fabulous, especially in the first period when they could have had a bunch, and he either made them miss or made some great saves.
“The only other positive that came out of the game was that we killed penalties much better tonight. We did a much better job of controlling it and not giving up great opportunities there. Other than that, I thought that it was an embarrassing display by my team and a terrific display by BC, both games. But a really embarrassing display tonight-standing around watching them, acting like we were afraid to lose. so we lost.”
BC Coach Jerry York certainly enjoyed his first visit to Agganis Arena. “The building is terrific,” York said. “It’s my first time in it, and it’s going to be a great venue for college hockey. I thought the game was a fairly standard BU-BC kind of game. It goes down to a pulled goaltender situation. Last night was that and tonight’s the same.
“We made a very, very fine play on the goal. Patrick Eaves was holding it, and Ryan came at about 100 miles per hour from deep in the zone to redirect the puck past Curry. I thought both goaltenders played exceptionally well. Matti didn’t have a lot of shots, but he made a great save in the third against [Ryan] Monaghan. And the 14 saves he had, there was still about a half-dozen that could have changed the game. And I think the guy next to me [Shannon] is about as good a player as we’ve had at BC-this is my 11th year-and we’ve had a ton of All-Americans and really high-end players. And this guy matches up with any of them. He’s been the real heart and soul of our club, and to watch him play-his skill and his skating-is really something.”
With Terrier forward Ken Roche in the sin bin just seven seconds into the game, the Eagles had the early momentum and kept it after the penalty expired. Defenseman Greg Lauze had a dangerous shot through a screen at 4:20.
The Terriers had a fluky play lead to a scoring chance at 7:28, when Bryan Miller’s shot was deflected high in the slot area, where Peter MacArthur missed the jump-ball puck, only to have John Laliberte get a good chance to no avail.
At 9:20, Joe Rooney shot a puck over Curry’s glove, only to hit the crossbar. Then Ryan Shannon-playing shorthanded-stole the puck from Sean Sullivan at the point during one of the Terriers’ many woeful power plays, leading to one of a handful of BC scoring chances.
“A big part of the power play is for starters that BC’s the best team in the nation at killing penalties, so give them a lot of credit,” Parker said. “And No. 2, we played into it-couldn’t make a pass. So it was ineptness on our part, but part of that is that BC is so dominating killing penalties, and they dominated us this weekend.”
Asked if the Terriers’ power play suffered due to Chris Bourque’s absence to an injury, Parker reiterated his point about his team’s lack of effort. “This game wasn’t about a lack of Bourque. It was about a lack of a lot of other people.”
Another bad BU turnover 20 seconds into the second period almost gave BC the lead, but Curry remained composed in turning away a pair of BC chances. Finally, BC made it 1-0 at 10:01.
“To be honest, I didn’t see much of it,” Shannon said. “I was just concerned with beating my guy. We talk about it all the time-going far post. And I think Patrick’s pass just hit a shin pad or a stick, and I happened to have my stick on the ice and directed it in.”
The Terriers did have a good shorthanded chance of their own at 13:20, when captain Brian McConnell made a nice cross-ice feed to Bryan Miller all alone on the left wing, but Miller couldn’t bury it.
Through two periods, BU managed just eight shots-even though they had been on six power plays. “We really come after teams, play aggressive and puck pursue really well,” Shannon said. “In terms of our defense, we have the puck so much it doesn’t really give the other team an opportunity to score. The more we’re on offense, the better our defense is.”
The third period was BU’s best offensively, though admittedly that wasn’t saying much. At 9:58, BU’s fourth line looked good, as Eric Thomassian threaded a long pass to Ryan Monaghan at the far post, only to have Kaltiainen make the save. The crowd got going a little, and Parker rewarded the line by keeping them out there despite a subsequent TV timeout.
BU had chances by David Van der Gulik and Sean Sullivan at the 11 and 12-minute marks of the period but didn’t get any excellent opportunities after that. Curry kept BU in it with a nice save on Brian Boyle’s redirect at 16:00, and then Curry scooped up an Eaves shot 15 seconds later.
Eaves empty-netter at 18:45 sealed it, giving BC temporary possession of first place in Hockey East, though New Hampshire has a couple of games in hand.
“About this game, it was a lot of fun in terms of college hockey,” Shannon said. “This is probably one of the most fun [games] I’ve had. We had a lot on the line, the season series, first place Hockey East. It was a lot of fun-great building.”
BU (13-9-0, 9-3-0) travels to Orono for a pair against Maine next weekend, while BC (14-3-3, 8-1-3) hosts Northeastern and UNH.