BOSTON — Boston University junior David Van der Gulik recorded a bittersweet hat trick in what was arguably the most exciting game in the infancy of Agganis Arena.
Just 14 seconds after Massachusetts-Lowell forward Danny O’Brien tied the game 3-3 at 11:39 of the third period, Van Der Gulik notched his third goal of the game for his first career hat trick. However, he also was on the ice five minutes later when Cleve Kinley buried a power-play goal for the final equalizer, giving the visiting River Hawks a 4-4 tie in front of a crowd of 5,930.
“It felt pretty good until I choked on the penalty kill and gave up their tying goal,” Van der Gulik said of his hat trick, the first by a Terrier since Brian McConnell pulled off the feat on February 20 of last season against Massachusetts. “A tie really hurts how it felt, but it felt good at the time when I got that third one. I haven’t had a hat trick in a few years, so it was really neat to get that.”
With both teams getting plenty of shots and strong goaltending on top of five goals in a wild third period — not to mention a second-period penalty shot by Terrier freshman Peter MacArthur — there was plenty to like Friday.
“It was a great college hockey game: great game to watch, great game to coach, great game to play in,” Terrier coach Jack Parker said. “Our guys were excited and playing well and theirs were too. It was up and down and wide open. I thought both goaltenders played great.
“Their power play bailed them out at the end of the game with two goals. We did a great job up to that point of killing penalties, mostly just outquicking them to the puck. By that time of the game, we were a little tired and a little legless trying to get to them in the corners.”
River Hawks coach Blaise MacDonald had qualms about his team’s execution, but not its persistence and effort.
“I thought we dug ourselves a significant hole in the first period by taking foolish penalties,” MacDonald said. “When you do that, that really takes a lot of gas out of your best players. I thought our goaltender made some big saves when he had to.
“We fought the game the entire time; we just couldn’t make the key plays at the right time, and we couldn’t get any rhythm. At the end of the day, our power play did what it was supposed to do and delivered a couple of key goals.”
At 3:40 of the first, BU took a 1-0 lead. Warding off defenseman Bobby McCabe, John Laliberte fought his way through the right-wing faceoff circle to deliver a shot on freshman goalie Peter Vetri. He made the save, but Van der Gulik collected the rebound and patiently wrapped it around him.
After Brad Zancanaro’s shorthanded bid at 5:40 and Jason Tejchma’s shot at 6:00 that was knocked aside by Terrier netminder Stephan Siwiec, BU forward Ken Roche forced his way to the net to draw a penalty and give the Terriers a lengthy five-on-three power play. Brian Miller and Chris Bourque, quarterbacking the power play, peppered the River Hawks, and Laliberte converted when a Miller slapshot off the back boards caromed onto his stick. His shot went off Vetri’s glove arm and in at 11:32.
It could have been worse for Lowell in the opening frame, but Vetri made great saves on Brian “Boomer” Ewing on the power play and then on Laliberte after Van der Gulik teed one up for him from behind the net.
Siwiec was challenged repeatedly in the second period but was equal to the task all but once. He made a great save on Ben Walter — who came into Friday with 23 goals in 24 games — at the four-minute mark and then snubbed him again at 8:20 after a Jekabs Redlihs turnover.
Lowell made it 2-1 on a controversial goal at 9:22. The River Hawks mounted excellent pressure on Siwiec, culminating with a Brad King backhander that glanced off the goalie and hit the post before lying in the crease. Elias Godoy skated through the crease, and his skate knocked the puck into the net. The BU student section and Parker were irate, but it stood as a goal.
“I got a good look at what happened: I thought he kicked it in,” Parker said. “And then I saw it on TV, and I know he kicked it in. But that was the first goal, and there was a long way to go from that. But it was a big goal, obviously.”
Agganis reached perhaps its loudest decibel level at 15:53 when BU was given a penalty shot after Bobby Robins apparently fell on the puck in the River Hawk crease. Favoring his quick-release shot, MacArthur beat Vetri on the stick side, only to clang one off the post and off the back of the goalie but not in.
This set the stage for a frenetic third period. Just after killing off a Van der Gulik penalty at 5:19, BU made it 3-1.
“I was mad at Benny for calling a bad call on me — I didn’t think I had a penalty, so I wanted to prove it back to him,” Van der Gulik said. “I got out of the box, and instead of changing I saw we were breaking out, McConnell skated down the wing, so I tried going to the net, and he fed it right to my stick on the back door. It was a great pass by McConnell, a great heads-up play.”
The coverage was excellent, and it took a threaded pass to connect for the tap-in. But just 86 seconds later, Lowell made it 3-2. Siwiec made a couple of saves, but his defense couldn’t clear the rebounds. The junior flailed but couldn’t stop Jeremy Hall’s shot.
Then with just two seconds remaining on a power play, Lowell tied it 3-3, as Walter’s pass through the crease set up Danny O’Brien for a goal. Fourteen seconds later, Van der Gulik got his hat-trick goal, fighting off Robins in the slot to bury the rebound of a Bryan Miller slot.
Then with just 3:09 remaining, Cleve Kinley fired an excellent shot that beat Siwiec high glove side to make it 4-4. “It was just bad luck in the corner, a bad read by me,” Van der Gulik said. “The guy walked in; I lost my stick, and he had a nice shot. It’s tough when you score, and they come back like that.”
BU had the better of the chances in the overtime, with Roche heading a possible three-on-one in the final minute, only to have the puck dance on edge.
“I was very impressed with BU,” MacDonald said. “Siwiec played great — made some huge saves in the second period. Any time you get a point on the road against a team of this quality, that’s a good thing.”
BU (15-10-2, 11-4-2) faces Boston College in the opening round of the Beanpot on Monday, with Siwiec apparently cementing his bid to start in goal with John Curry listed as doubtful for the first round, at least.
“We’ve got a lot to prove,” Van der Gulik said. “We played really bad against them the last two games, and we want to play like BU’s played in the Beanpot in its history.”
Massachusetts-Lowell (15-6-4, 6-6-3) hosts Providence on Saturday night.