BOSTON, Mass. — Instead of a day late and a dollar short, it was a case of 33 days late and a goal short for Boston University.
In a makeup of a game originally scheduled for December 13, BU let yet another home game slip away, despite substantially outshooting their opponent. After enjoying a 9-1 shot advantage in the opening minutes, the Terriers eased up on the Big Green and were left green with envy when Dartmouth scored two third-period goals to nip the hosts by a 3-2 margin in front of 4,446 at Agganis Arena.
Senior goalie Mike Devine led the way with 31 saves, and Big Green centerman J.T. Wyman scored the game-winner on an impressive breakaway with a 1:38 remaining to lift Dartmouth. Jason Lawrence and Bryan Ewing scored for BU. It was Dartmouth’s first win against BU in ten games, dating back to January 6, 1982.
“More of the same at home,” Terriers’ coach Jack Parker said, alluding to his team’s 2-5 record at Agganis this season. “I think Dartmouth played a real smart road game. They got real good goaltending. As the game progressed, they played harder and harder, and we didn’t play hard enough.”
“It was a battle, obviously,” Dartmouth coach Bob Gaudet said. “Our guys played hard and theirs did too. It was treat to come in to Boston to play Coach Parker’s team.”
BU put the big hurt on the Big Green in the early going, skating hard and delivering some punishing checks. Super-sized defenseman Eric Gryba set the tone by leveling Rob Pritchard at the one-minute mark, and newly reinstated Terriers’ captain Brian McGuirk must have had a half-dozen hits in the first period alone.
The Terriers had more than their share of chances, but couldn’t score. At 6:14, Pete MacArthur wrapped it around the back of the net to tee up linemate Bryan Ewing for a good chance. At 8:50, McGuirk set up linemate John McCarthy for another bid, only to have the centerman run out of room as Dartmouth goalie Mike Devine sprawled to cover the post on his gloves side.
BU’s top line picked up where the fourth line left off, with MacArthur and Ewing swarming the Big Green on the very next shift. Freshman Colin Wilson centered the pair, as Chris Higgins was out with the flu.
Ironically, a Terriers’ power play at 12:12 seemed to have a negative impact on the team’s momentum, as Dartmouth had a couple of nominal shorthanded chances.
“It’s interesting; we got some momentum out of a penalty kill,” Devine said. “Typically, it’s weathering the storm at first. They come out pretty hard; it was more what they were doing than what we weren’t.
Still, the Terriers came within a hair of taking the lead at 17:07 when Dan McGoff’s slap shot from the left point hit the crossbar and perhaps a post as well before hitting Devine in the back and somehow getting covered.
The offense picked up in period two. Luke Popko and Jason Lawrence had chances from close quarters at 2:24. After no goals in the first 25 minutes, the teams traded goals in a 52-second span.
Dartmouth took the lead 5:24 when Rob Smith outbattled two defenders behind the BU net before pulling off an extra-wide wraparound, sweeping the puck around Bennett and into the far corner stick side.
BU tied it up in short order on a similar goal. Popko won a battle behind the net, and Lawrence picked up the puck nearby and somehow stuffed it in between the post and Devine short side.
Ewing gave BU a 2-1 lead at 10:48 on a trademark goal. Skating from the left wing into the slot with the puck on his forehand, Ewing buried a high wrister glove side from 15 feet for his team-leading 11th goal.
Dartmouth almost tied it twice in the next minute, as Fleming was stoned by Bennett at 11:08 followed by Kyle Reed hitting the crossbar off of a rush at 11:45. Colin Wilson countered with a strong chance of his own from power-forward territory at 18:00, but Devine stopped it.
“The third period starts and we’re winning 2-1, but I didn’t think we played that well in the second,” Parker said. “We played pretty well in the first territorially and made some pretty plays, but in the third period we got jumpy with the puck. We looked like we were worried about losing.”
Exhibit A was a weak clear by Terriers’ defenseman Brian Strait that came back to haunt BU. After Strait;s weak backhander was stopped at the left point, the puck ended up on the stick of Big Green defenseman John Gibson at the right point. Popko slid to block the initial shot, but the puck went right back on Gibson’s stick. His second shot went through traffic and hit the net high.
Dartmouth had a great chance to take the lead with six minutes left when Matt Reber raced in on the right wing before aiming for the far post, only to have Bennett sprawl to block it.
Things got very interesting after that. An excellent pass by Victor Saponari set up a great chance for Jason Lawrence at 17:30, and some great end-to-end play ensued. Finally, with 1:38 left, Dartmouth won a faceoff and the Big Green’s leading scorer, J.T. Wyman raced in and buried a backhander for the 3-2 lead.
“Late in the game, a faceoff anywhere you’re just trying to keep it simple and get the puck deep in the opponent’s zone,” Wyman said. “Just got a loose puck, the BU defenseman, not sure who it was, just got in a footrace for it. I kind of chipped it over his stick and got a little step on him and just drove far post, caught the goalie five-hole. Kind of a blur at the moment.”
“That was a big-time goal by their guy Wyman,” Parker said. “He just blew by the guy on the faceoff, blew by our defenseman and went in and drilled it.”
Predictably, the Terriers finally regained some urgency and went all out to try to tie it in the final minutes. If they had played the 60 minutes as hard as they played for the first 12 and the last minute, they might’ve won 5-1 or so.
BU (6-11-3) travels to Merrimack and BC this weekend to try to make some headway in the Hockey East standings. Dartmouth (7-8-1) plays intrastate rival UNH at Manchester’s Verizon Wireless Arena on Friday before hosting Harvard on Saturday.
With McGuirk reinstated as captain, the Terriers now have co-captains with McGuirk and MacArthur along with two alternates in Weston and Gilroy. Parker said that he decided to reinstate McGuirk because he was impressed with how the senior responded after losing the captaincy. He also said that he didn’t want him to end his career at BU with the stigma of losing the ‘C.’ McGuirk chalked it up as a learning experience.