BOSTON — Two days before Halloween, Boston University had some kids show up at their house and basically proceeded to egg it twice. They almost got away with it too, only to have their hosts pull off the last trick of the evening.
After trailing the U.S. National Under-18 Team through one period, the Terriers rallied to tie it on a goal by Chris Higgins with the goalie pulled and just 1:25 remaining in regulation. BU proceeded to win it with all of 39.1 seconds left in overtime on a Kevin Schaeffer power-play goal, giving the Terriers a 3-2 victory before an Agganis Arena crowd 4,002 — including a guy in the student section dressed for the holiday as BU coach Jack Parker.
Freshman Brandon Yip figured in all three BU goals, notching the first Terrier goal as well as two helpers. Patrick Kane had a pair of assists for the U.S. National Team, but the real star of the game was Ohio State-bound goalie Joseph Palmer, who stopped 43 of 46 BU shots en route to what was close to a stunning upset.
“I thought tonight our kids played very well,” said U.S. Coach John Hynes, a former BU player himself. “Any time you can come in and compete with a team like Boston University and trade goal for goal and compete with them period by period, I think it’s a step in the right direction for our team.
“Part of what happened at the end of the game is why we play these games: Kids have to learn how to finish games and how to play under pressure with under two minutes left in the game. Even though we didn’t win the game, that’s a great learning experience for us. It’s going to make us a better team down the road.”
Jack Parker was relieved to escape with a win in light of the great effort by the U.S. Team as well as the fact that it’s hard to rouse intensity for an exhibition game. “Under difficult circumstances I thought we played pretty well as the game progressed,” Parker said. “It’s an exhibition game for us; it’s a big game for them; we just came off a disappointing effort last night and can’t get back to a real win tonight, so it’s a real difficult game to play.
“I like playing because it’s gives us an extra game, and it’s a good game recruiting-wise, but sometimes I don’t know if it’s beneficial. It gave us a chance to let some other guys play, and they played really well. I was impressed with their team; I was impressed with their goaltender.”
The U.S. team stunned the Terriers with a goal just 52 seconds into the contest. Right wing Patrick Kane — a currently undecided right wing leading his team with five goals in eight games played this season — took a shot through traffic from the right point, and Minnesota recruit Ryan Flynn tipped it in past Karson Gillespie for the 1-0 lead.
Although BU scratched several lineup regulars — including Peter MacArthur, Dan Spang, Ryan Weston, Kenny Roche, and goaltender John Curry — they tested Palmer early and often. Yet it was the U.S. who notched the game’s second goal on a power play at 8:56. James O’Brien blasted a shot past Gillespie, with the puck pinballing off various pipes before and after it went in.
BU had a great chance at 15:25 when John Laliberte set up Jason Lawrence from behind the net. A minute later, Eric Thomassian set up Kevin Schaeffer on a two-on-one, only to have Palmer make a lunging glove save.
The second period was less eventful until Jamie McBain received a five-minute major, a game misconduct, and a game disqualification due to a hit from behind that bloodied Thomassian’s face. This led to a five-on-three for the Terriers 90 seconds later. BU still didn’t score through the two-man advantage but did capitalize in the last half-minute of the major. Defenseman Sean Sullivan made a great move rushing the net on the Palmer’s stick side before dishing to Yip for the easy tap-in at the far post.
The U.S. team almost put the game out of reach at 9:15 of the third period, but Michael Carman couldn’t corral a bouncing pass with plenty of net available.
Finally — seconds after Gillespie was pulled for the extra attacker, Yip stole a clearing attempt and nudged the puck to fellow frosh Chris Higgins, who buried the equalizer.
Then — on a power play in the last three minutes of overtime — Kevin Schaeffer took a slapshot that appeared to carom off of a defender to beat Palmer with 39.1 seconds left.
“It’s disappointing in the sense that we lost, but we’re still in the beginning stages of our season,” said U.S. captain Brian Strait, who has verbally committed to attend BU next season. “We’re just getting into the college game. It’s a step in the right direction, and I think we’re going to be fine as we go on during the season.”
“I don’t think it’s as important for us for recruiting,” Parker said of the exhibition. “It’s nice to show these guys the building, etcetera, but in general they’ve already made up their mind, most of them. We’re recruiting a couple of guys on that team still but for the year after, not for this year coming up. It would be better if we could play the 16 year-old team, but that would be a little bit of a lopsided deal.”
The U.S. National Under-18 plays at Northeastern on Sunday afternoon, while BU hosts Vermont on Friday night before traveling to Orono to face Maine on Sunday.