BOSTON — UMass-Lowell must wish that daylight-saving time ended about five hours earlier than scheduled tonight.
The River Hawks would have loved to turn back the clock to around 9 p.m., when they had a 4-1 lead on the road against Boston University. Instead, it turned dark in a hurry, as the Terriers scored six unanswered goals in the last 30 minutes of the game to win 7-4 in front of 5,686 at Agganis Arena.
BU’s fourth line led the way offensively as Luke Popko scored twice and Zach Cohen notched a goal and an assist in their best games to date. Captain Bryan McGuirk, Ryan Weston, and Nick Bonino also potted a goal and a helper, with the freshman Bonino getting the game-winner in the third. Freshman defenseman Maury Edwards scored twice for the River Hawks.
“I thought we played a hell of a game from start to finish,” Terriers’ coach Jack Parker said. “I was very, very pleased. With the exception of a couple of stupid penalties we took, I thought we played extremely well. As the game got out of hand for us at 4-1, I thought we had the same resolve we had earlier.
“This is the quickest weve looked tonight. We were quick against Providence [in a 5-2 win] on Thursday, but we were quicker tonight because the puck was moving more than our legs.”
For River Hawks’ coach Blaise MacDonald, the feelings were more mixed.
“I was proud of how we battled. We have a ridiculously young team. I thought we were spurt-y in our poise. We didn’t show a lot of poise in the second period, but we did some good things. 4-3, they score early in the third, and then we come back and hit the post. It was a game that I thought was in the balance at that point,and then BU did a great job in the third period of crashing the net, driving our players into the net, which resulted in the winning goal.”
Lowell went ahead just 2:14 into the game. BU freshman defenseman Colby Cohen threw a lazy pass across the point as a power play expired, and it went right to Maury Edwards coming out of the box for a breakaway and Edwards roofed it for the lead.
In the River Hawks’ net, Nevin Hamilton gave up some rebounds on high shots later in the period, but BU failed to capitalize. Terries’ netminder Karson Gillespie smothered an Ian Schaser chance at 18:25 to keep it 1-0.
Things got surreal early in the second period, starting with three goals in just 43 seconds; there were nine home games last season in which both teams scored three goals or less in a whole game, so this was a startling development for the BU faithful.
At 1:12, the puck squirted out of a scrum near the boards to Mark Roebothian, who slid a soft shot through Gillespie. McGuirk got that one back just 26 seconds later when he pestered Hamilton as a shot came from the point. However, Lowell regained the two-goal cushion just 17 ticks later when Jason DeLuca roofed a shot from tight quarters.
That was the end of the night for Gillespie; sophomore Brett Bennett came in, much to the delight of the home crowd. Unfortunately, he soon faced a five-on-three power play after a dumb high-sticking penalty by Eric Gryba. Bennett dodged a few bullets; Barry Goers fanned on a shot with half of the net open, and Chris Auger hit the crossbar, but Edwards finally buried one for a 4-1 lead.
Parker called a timeout shortly thereafter.
“I tried to tell them to just keep doing what they were doing. I told them theres plenty of time left; we don’t have to get the next goal right now, but we have to stop the bleeding here, make sure we don’t give up any more. We’re going to get some goals on this team; let’s not worry about whats happened.”
BU responded with the biggest goal of the game. Despite having their fourth line up against the top River Hawks’ line, Popko, Cohen, and freshman Victor Sapanari dominated play.
“Cohen was doing a great job down low cycling,” Popko said. “We were talking about just shooting from the sides and going for rebounds. It went in, and you definitely could see the momentum change.”
That set the stage for a five-goal explosion in the third. At 1:56, Bonino did a nice job of keeping the puck in the zone before passing to Bryan Ewing, who set up Colin Wilson for his first collegiate goal.
The River Hawks almost got it back when Patrick Cey hit the post less than two minutes later. Instead, BU’s fourth line struck again as Cohen teed up a Grbya shot that Popko redirected in. Bonino got a power-play goal from tight quarters to put BU ahead, and then Cohen raced in on a breakaway to make it 6-4.
“It was certainly a coming-out party for Zach Cohen,” Parker said. “I thought he looked like Frank Mahovlich a couple of times coming down the wing. I told him, ‘Geez, you actually are fast!’ We finally got him in shape; that’s why he’s fast.”
Ryan Weston wrapped up the scoring for the Terriers, who mustered all this offense without Brandon Yip, who is expected to return next weekend after a groin strain against Providence on Thurday.
On a night when there were plenty of accolades to go around, Parker reserved his highest praise for Gillespie’s reactions after being pulled.
“I told him ‘You weren’t on top of your game; we had to get you out of there. You’ll be back in there, just keep working and dont worry about it right now.’ That was all I said to him. As the game progressed, he was like another coach on the bench. He was pumping guys up, walking up and down, pounding on guys after they got goals, screaming at guys to play harder. I couldn’t believe that he could turn himself into such a great teammate after having such a disappointment like that. It’s a credit to him as an athlete and as a person.”