BOSTON — The good news for Terrier fans is that Boston University beat Merrimack behind a pair of goals by fourth-line walk-on forwards Ryan Monaghan and Matt Radoslovich.
The bad news is that Terrier goalie John Curry separated his shoulder and is out for an undetermined length of time after being hit hard into the boards behind the net by Merrimack fourth-liner Jeremy Wilson, prompting a fracas that led to 105 penalty minutes at 17:24 of the second period.
Curry toughed it out through the end of the period but had to leave at that point in favor of Stephan Siwiec, who stopped eight of eight shots to help the Terriers hang on to beat the Warriors 2-1 in front of crowd of 6,073 at Agganis Arena.
For Merrimack coach Chris Serino, the hit on Curry evoked emotional memories of former Merrimack goalie Joe Exter’s near-fatal injury when Patrick Eaves collided with him back in March 2003. The two plays were not similar: Exter had raced out after a loose puck and collided with Eaves in the left-wing faceoff circle. Curry was behind the net, collecting the puck, when Wilson charged into him, smashing Curry’s right shoulder into the boards.
Still, the situation left Serino deeply upset.
“All I can tell you about that is I think you know I’m very sensitive about goaltenders,” Serino said. “Us of all people. I’m very, very sensitive to goaltenders, and there’s no reason to hit a goaltender. I’m sure he didn’t do it on purpose, but it doesn’t matter. It will be more than a one-game disqualification; I can guarantee that. I hope [Curry's] fine. Does anybody know? I hope he doesn’t miss much because he’s a great goaltender; he’s having a great season; it’s a great story. I feel terrible, believe me when I tell you that.”
Terrier coach Jack Parker commented tersely. “Curry’s got a separated shoulder,” Parker said. “We don’t know how badly; he’s going to have X-rays. There’s no question the kid ran the goalie. That’s all on that comment. It’s safe to say that Curry won’t play on Saturday. We’ll make a decision tomorrow on who’s going to play.”
With the significant exception of the play that injured his goaltender, Parker was pleased with his team’s performance.
“I thought we played real well for most of the game,” Parker said. “I thought we played great in the first period. I thought we were okay on the power play: We had some chances but just couldn’t buy goals. All of a sudden the puck isn’t going in the net for us like it was earlier in the year. I thought we played well down the stretch when it was a 2-1 game. I was pleased with the way Siwiec played in the third period after our goaltender went down, and our fourth line had a [heck] of a night.”
Indeed it did. With Eric Thomassian centering wingers Matt Radoslovich and Ryan Monaghan, the fourth line was the Terriers’ best forward trio, scoring four of the team’s five points and looking good when they weren’t scoring as well.
“I was pleased with their pace,” Parker said. “They were on the puck and backing each other up and doing a real good job on the forecheck, but also when they got control of the puck, they were making some nice passes.”
Many in the crowd — including the goal judge — believed that BU took at 1-0 lead at 1:50 of the first when a Chris Bourque slapper clanged off a pipe or two and may have gone in and out of the net. Referee Tim Benedetto believed it didn’t go in, and there was no debate.
At 6:05, BU made it 1-0, thanks in part to a Thomassian steal and pass as well as a deft move by Monaghan in front of Warrior goalie Jim Healey.
“They tried to clear it up the middle and Tomo just knocked it down, kind of brought it in, drew the defenseman over and slid it over to me,” Monaghan said. “I got up front and really had only one option with it: I thought he was going to pokecheck if I dragged it back across, so I tried to go up; it worked out.”
Monaghan’s nifty backhand flip, high into the stick-side corner, prompted some rare praise from his teammates. “I was telling somebody else that it was the first time somebody said to me, ‘Nice hands,’ and it wasn’t sarcastic,” Monaghan said. “You ask anyone on the team, and I have bricks for hands.”
“He’s a walk-on defenseman; we recruited him because we thought we could make him a forward,” Parker said. “I don’t know if you remember Ryan Priem, who we had here a few years ago — a defenseman in prep school who was a smart player and who we thought could give us a physical presence. He did a great job for us in that role, and Monaghan is doing an even better job because he’s a really well-rounded player; he’s a smart player. For a guy who’s never played that position before, he obviously knows how to play ice hockey because he’s picked it up pretty quickly — a real student of the game, and he can be trusted out there, which is great.”
Halfway through the first, BU got the eventual game-winner when Bryan Miller’s shot initially appeared to be on the stick of Merrimack d-man Ryan Sullivan, only to have him lose the handle to Radoslovich, who buried a five-footer high glove side.
“I thought we let this thing get away from us in the first period,” Serino said. “I can’t imagine why we came out flat, but we didn’t handle the puck. The first two goals we had possession of the puck, turned it over — nice shots. After that, I thought we competed pretty good.”
Matt Johnson had a great chance at the 14-minute mark for Merrimack, hitting the post on Curry’s stick side. The puck proceeded to hit Curry and roll ever so close to the goal line before the goalie swiped it away.
Merrimack looked good in scoring its lone goal at 1:59 of period two, as a series of one-touch passes from Jeff Caron to Matt Byrnes, then to Mike Fournier and finally to Justin Mills, who beat Curry with a high wrister from the right-wing faceoff circle.
The Warriors almost tied it at 6:10 when Brent Gough teed one up for Jordan Fox in the slot, only to have Curry come up with a kick save, his best of the night.
BU emerged from the aforementioned fracas with a lengthy power play, as Wilson was given two majors and a game disqualification. Yet Merrimack came closest to scoring in that span, as a Gough shot beat Curry and appeared to hit the post before a Terrier blueliner cleared the puck off the brink of the goal line
After not playing since a debacle at Colorado College in November, Siwiec manned the net for BU in the third period and played solidly, most notably foiling Steve Crusco at 4:10 after Brian Boulay’s pass set up a quasi-breakaway.
“Really tough situation — 2-1, third period, he’s got to make some saves,” Parker said of Siwiec’s entry into the contest. “I thought he looked poised with the exception of one time going back for the puck and getting caught behind the net, I thought he looked very much in control. He made them hit him, which is what he’s supposed to do.”
BU (14-10-1, 10-4-1 Hockey East) hosts Providence on Saturday night, while Merrimack (8-19-2, 1-15-1) is off until a week from Saturday, when it hosts Massachusetts.