LOWELL, Mass. — Boston University rallied first from an early deficit of 3-1 and then again, down 4-3 with less than three minutes left, to defeat Massachusetts-Lowell, 6-4. Chris Higgins scored with 2:14 remaining to tie the game and set the stage for linemate Colin Wilson’s game-winner with 15 seconds remaining.
Wilson finished with two goals and two assists. Ironically, his turnover with little more than five minutes left led to Lowell’s fourth goal and short-lived lead.
“After that turnover, I knew I had to get the team back into it,” Wilson said.
That he did, first lending a hand on Higgins’s tying goal.
“It was an odd-man rush with me, Wilson and Jay-Lo [Jason Lawrence],” Higgins said. “Wilson gave it over to Jay and I just went hard to the net. Jay made a nice cross-ice pass to me.
“The defenseman played me pretty well. I just got a stick on it. I’m thankful Jay-Lo put it right on my stick and I just had to tap it in.”
The game then seemed destined for overtime until Kevin Gilroy threw the puck out in front and Wilson got it inside the left faceoff circle.
“It went to me and I had all the time in the world,” Wilson said. “I went high blocker side and snuck it in.”
Higgins added the final goal with 0.6 seconds left.
Though he allowed four goals, BU goaltender Kieran Millan made several game-saving saves, especially early in the third period.
“This W falls on the shoulders of Kieran Millan,” BU coach Jack Parker said. “He played absolutely fabulous.”
For Lowell, it was the bitterest of pills to swallow. Time after time, the River Hawks play BU tough only to see the Terriers escape with the win. This time, they even saw their starting goaltender, Carter Hutton, felled by an ankle injury. With Hutton unable to start the third, the River Hawk fortunes fell to freshman T.J. Massie.
“We did everything a team can do but win the game,” UML coach Blaise MacDonald said. “We played well enough to win this game going away. We played exactly the way we wanted to play. We deserved better.
“We had some unfortunate adversity with our starting goalie spraining his ankle partway through the second period. But we must give BU credit for staying with it and finishing the game. Stating the obvious, they were very opportunistic.”
After the game, the Terriers knew they’d dodged a bullet.
“We know that we probably shouldn’t have won the game tonight,” Higgins said. “We had way too many turnovers. We were just lucky that good teams find a way to win.”
Added Parker about his team’s mindset, “They’ve got to feel good about themselves, feel good about what happened between the pipes, feel happy that they have the talent and can dig a little deeper and make something happen.”
Over the opening 15 minutes, Lowell generated only a single shot on net but made that one count. After working the puck around the perimeter to Ryan Blair on the left point, Blair slid it to Maury Edwards on the right. Edwards’s wrister appeared innocuous enough but rattled the inside of iron and went in.
Starved for shot to that point, the River Hawks mounted several serious challenges but could not double their lead.
Early in the second period, Lowell captain Mark Roebothan had a glittering opportunity on the doorstep only to by foiled by Millan.
BU came back at 6:34 and tied it when Matt Gilroy put a shot on net and John McCarthy popped the rebound in over Hutton.
The game’s first power play went to Lowell two minutes later, but despite an initial flurry the best opportunity went to Higgins on an unsuccessful shorthanded bid.
At 11:59, Lowell took the lead when Mike Potacco buried a chance in front set up by Roebothan.
Hutton made two big saves to preserve the lead as BU pressed until it picked up an interference penalty. This time, the River Hawk power play capitalized. Reigning Hockey East Rookie of the Month David Vallorani added to his five assists with his first collegiate goal. Left all alone in front, Vallorani took the feed from Scott Campbell from near the left corner and extended the Lowell lead to 3-1.
Predictably, a BU power play late in the period netted a goal, narrowing the score to 3-2. Wilson rifled a shot underneath the crossbar from the right faceoff circle just nine seconds into the advantage.
Massie replaced Hutton in the Lowell goal to open the third period, but it was Millan who opened eyes. He made a terrific glove save on a Paul Worthington partial break, then stoned Matt Ferreira following a Nick Monroe feed.
On the first of two BU power plays, Nick Bonino rang one off the pipes but it would instead take an odd-man rush while at even strength to tie the score. Chris Connolly passed left-to-right to Vinny Saponari, who one-timed it in.
At 14:29, Potacco scored what looked like a game-winner but only set the stage for BU’s dramatic comeback.