BOSTON — The big number for the Boston University Terriers Saturday night was two.
It took them two goals to beat Massachusetts, and thanks to their 2-1 victory in front of 5,663 at Harry Agganis Arena, they moved into second place in Hockey East with four games remaining, all against conference opponents.
The Terriers (20-10-2, 14-4-2 Hockey East) vaulted past crosstown rival Boston College, which fell to Massachusetts-Lowell for the second night in a row, and with an injured Eagles squad struggling to finish out the season and the New Hampshire Wildcats in sight, BU is sitting pretty at the most important time.
Of course, it wasn’t quite as easy as the 3-0 shutout of the Minutemen on Friday, and BU coach Jack Parker hardly sounded like the winning bench boss after the game.
“We were completely dominated in the first 10 minutes of the first period by UMass,” Parker said. “Massachusetts played much better tonight. I thought we played real well in the second period; we controlled the play — we’re doing well with that.”
The second period was where the winning goal came from the stick of Kenny Roche.
In an otherwise underwhelming middle frame, Roche gave the Terriers a 2-1 lead. After the BU faithful cheered UMass-Lowell’s then-one goal lead over Boston College as displayed on the center scoreboard, Roche blasted a feed from Eric Thomassian past Winer’s left hip, giving the hosts a one-goal advantage 1:46 into the second period.
BU held off the Minutemen from there, and played a solid, conservative defense in the third period.
“In the third, we were very thorough,” Parker said. “We had to make sure we didn’t give up that tying goal. We haven’t played a real solid game since the first round of the Beanpot, so that was nice.”
The Terriers beat the Eagles 2-1 at the FleetCenter in Boston to go to the Beanpot final, which they also won 3-2 in overtime against Northeastern.
UMass, which has struggled to score for months, has just one win and one tie in 12 games since the start of 2005.
“I don’t really have the words that can be put together about my reactions after the game,” said UMass coach Don Cahoon, whose squad has endured numerous injuries and other problems over the last few months. “It gets to be a broken record when you’re telling the guys, ‘If you play hard, and keep working hard, you’ll get better,’ even if we know it’s true.”
The Minutemen ended a 94 minute, 55 second scoreless streak in the first period, but not before the Terriers struck first. Dan Spang was the beneficiary of a poor clearance by UMass’ Obi Aduba from the right-wing corner, and put a hard wrister from just above the left faceoff circle past Winer to open up the scoring with 5:30 to go in the first.
The Minutemen, who had last scored early in the first period against New Hampshire on Feb. 12, finally broke their scoring drought with 1:20 remaining in the first period. With a scramble ensuing in front of Curry’s net, Kevin Jarman ended up with the puck on his stick, and poked it home to tie the game.
“Everyone’s pressing a little bit,” Cahoon said. “And that’s not good, whether you’re the third man in the lineup on a baseball team or a hockey player. All the pieces aren’t there, and we just need to make the best of it without them.”