BOSTON — A casual observer of tonight’s Boston University-UMass.-Lowell hockey game could be forgiven for not being able to tell which team is No. 7 in the nation and which team came in with a 19-game winless streak.
The River Hawks outshot, outhustled, and basically outplayed the Terriers, who only salvaged a 0-0 tie because of the yeoman effort in net by senior netminder John Curry. In front of a crowd of 5,549 at Agganis Arena, the Minnesota native stopped all 28 River Hawk shots. Meanwhile, his counterpart-freshman Nevin Hamilton-pulled off the unusual feat of notching his first collegiate shutout before obtaining his first collegiate victory, as he made 24 saves to earn the tie.
After the game, Terrier coach Jack Parker appeared for what may have been the shortest press conference of his long career. Clocking in at just 45 seconds, here are his comments in their entirety: “I’ll tell you what I just told my team,” Parker said. “That was an embarrassing display. Other than our goaltender-who played fabulously-we didn’t have one guy who came to play hard tonight.
“We got beat to ever loose puck. We got embarrassed by a team that’s in last place. We got absolutely embarrassed. When they watch that game film, they won’t believe that they didn’t win this game six-nothing. From lack of senior leadership to lack of intensity to lack of willingness to compete, it was as bad a show as I’ve seen.”
With that, Parker got up and left the room before any questions were asked.
For his part, River Hawk coach Blaise MacDonald was not as ecstatic as you might expect given that the game did end a nine-game losing streak if not the much longer winless streak. Still, there was some solace in the effort and the outcome. “Appropriately so, it’s Groundhog Day,” MacDonald noted. “About 75 or 80 percent of our games have been just like this. We play well against quality opponents and just not quite get it done. But we’re playing at a different level than we have in the past because I think our goaltending has really amplified our confidence. In this league, if you don’t have goaltending, you have no chance.”
The first period had a tepid pace, as the teams combined for just 12 shots. For BU, Bryan Ewing made a backhanded flip pass to set up Jason Lawrence for a backhander at 1:30, but Hamilton made the save. Halfway through the period, Matt Gilroy made a great rush up the ice before flipping a terrific, soft pass across the zone to set up Chris Higgins for the give-and-go, but Gilroy’s redirect of the return pass went wide.
Less than two minutes later, Jason Tejchma-the leading goal scorer for the River Hawks-had a nice chance in tight on Curry, only to have the BU MVP make the arm save. Late in the period, Tejchma set up linemate Jeremy Hall going toward the net, forcing a penalty.
The action picked up considerably in the second period-especially for Lowell. Tejchma almost pounced on the rebound of a Mike Potacco shot at 5:10, only to have Curry beat him to it. Less than a minute later, outstanding freshman blueliner Jeremy Dehner had a good look on an 18-foot wrister, only to have Curry make another save.
“I felt a little more confident in the net,” said Curry, who was visibly down on himself after last Saturday’s home loss to Boston College. “I worked on some things in practice. Coach Geragosian got me back to doing some basic things and not trying to do too much. I felt good, but at this point in the season I’m a senior with ten games left. I get no gratification, believe me, from getting the shutout and not winning the game.”
On a power play at the eight-minute mark, the River Hawks had all kinds of chances, only to have Curry make a series of saves during the flurry. The pressure continued even after the man advantage elapsed, with freshmen Frank Stegnar and Chris Auger taking it to BU ferociously.
Jason Lawrence did have a Terrier chance in tight at 11:15, and Zach Cohen set up Gilroy for another bid at 13:50, but the goal judges were still in no danger of acquiring carpal tunnel syndrome.
BU looked somewhat better in the third, at least in terms of shots. Zach Cohen had a breakaway and was stopped but drew the penalty. At 9:40, UMass.-Lowell countered when Paul Worthington set up a Nick Schaus point-blank chance that ended up going high.
In the end, though, neither team could light the lamp. “At this point in the season, everything that’s had to be said has been said,” Curry said. “I think that’s what scares me the most is that we’ve covered anything. It’s not like they’re something we’ve forgotten to talk about or bring up. We’ve just gone back to our old habits. I have confidence in these guys, and they do care, but tonight it really didn’t look like it.”
BU (13-5-8, 10-4-7) will attempt to use the Beanpot semi-final to right the ship, as they face off against the vastly improved Northeastern Huskies in the 5 p.m. game on Monday. Lowell (3-19-6, 2-14-3) is back on the road on Saturday night against UMass.