CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. — Boston University head coach Jack Parker is one of the deans of the game and has many times been praised for his wisdom in coaching behind the bench.
Saturday night, in a 3-1 victory over arch-rival Boston College (9-5-2, 5-4-2 Hockey East) in front of a sellout crowd of 7,884 at BCs Kelley Rink, what appeared to be another of Parker’s mastermind moves wasn’t even necessarily intended to accomplish what it did.
With the Terriers leading, 2-1, midway through the third, Parker’s club was running around defensively in its own zone and Boston College’s offense was peppering the BU net. After an icing by BU, Parker decided to call a timeout.
As a result, his club completely regained it composure and limited BC’s opportunities over the following minutes, but that wasn’t necessarily Parkers intention.
“I couldn’t change up [my lines],” said Parker, noting that his players were required to remain on the ice after the icing, a new rule in college hockey this season. “[Chris] Higgins was tired and a little banged up. So I called the timeout for two reasons. One was to talk to my team but the other was because they couldn’t come off the ice. It was a chance to get a break and we got the puck right out of the zone after that.”
Whatever the purpose, Parkers move worked. From that point, it wasn’t until BC pulled goaltender John Muse (23 saves) in the final minute that they generated any sustained offense, though the final minute flurry might have been Boston College’s best chance to even the game.
After a Joe Whitney slap shot was blocked, the puck popped to Benn Ferriero with a wide open net near the right post. Somehow his shot sailed wide and hit the side of the net. Jimmy Hayes then followed on and attempted to stuff the puck on BU netminder Kieran Millan (18 saves). The Terriers, though, were able to get the puck high in the zone where Nick Bonino dove and swatted at it sending it the length of the ice and into the empty net with five-tenths of a second remaining to account for the 3-1 final.
“This was a really difficult game for us to lose,” said York. “I thought that we had some terrific opportunities in the third period. We were down 2-0 but came back and played an excellent third period. We missed two or three really good chances with the goalie pulled that looked like surefire goals. The puck just never went in.”
If Boston College hoped that returning home Saturday night to the friendly confines of Kelley Rink would give the team a lift, they may have been disappointed to skate out to a half-empty arena, much of which was filled the BU fans dressed in scarlet and white, at the game’s start. The Eagles football team had played early in the day in the ACC Championship game, losing to Virginia Tech, which may have explained for some of the late-arriving crowd.
The Terriers took advantage of BC’s lack of jump early and at 1:59 got on the scoreboard. A slap shot from Matt Gilroy hit BC forward Matt Price in the slot. The puck dropped to Price’s feet, but he was unable to immediately locate it. That allowed BU rookie Corey Trevino to swoop in for a quick snap shot that beat Muse cleanly to ignite the large crowd of BU faithful.
BC had its chances before the period ended, the two most notably coming for leading scorer Brock Bradford. The first, at 3:20, was a rebound at the left post that Bradford swatted at but broke his stick in the process. Three minutes later, Bradford took an outlet pass and walked in alone on Millan. He beat the rookie netminder cleanly but the puck clanged off the right post.
By period’s end, BC controlled the territorial advantage, but the Terriers had an 8-5 advantage on the shot chart.
The second period was wild and wooly. A scrum early in the period sent BC’s Anthony Aiello and BU’s Kevin Strait to the box for 10-minute misconducts and the physical play, and associated penalties, dominated the frame.
At 10:50, the period’s only goal was scored when BU’s Chris Connolly walked in alone and was hauled down by BC blueliner Tommy Cross. Referee Scott Hansen awarded Connolly a penalty shot which he fired inside the left post to give the Terriers a 2-0 lead.
“He came straight down the ice and he kind of slowed down,” said BC’s Muse of Connolly’s penalty shot. “I didn’t slow down as much as he did. That’s why I gave up as much of the net as I did.”
The penalty shot was the first successful attempt by the Terriers since Gregg Johnson scored in a 6-4 win over Nebraska-Omaha on October 25, 2002. It was the first allowed by the Eagles since October 10, 2003 when Minnesota-Duluth’s Junior Lessard beat Matti Kaltiainen in a 2-2 tie.
BC nearly pulled within a goal by period’s end when Ben Smith picked up a BU turnover, skated in alone and beat Millan. The puck hit the inside of the left post to maintain the BU lead at two heading to the third.
At 6:01, the Eagles finally solved Millan. Matt Price pushed home the rebound of a Barry Almeida shot to bring the building to life. BC’s continued pressure nearly tied the game at 9:12. Carl Sneep’s one-timer from the left point through traffic beat Millan but, for the third time in the game, clanged metal, hitting the intersection of the post and crossbar.
It was the next whistle when Parker called his timeout that rested his players and, most importantly slowed down the pace of the game to enable Boston Universitys (10-4-1, 5-4-1 Hockey East) victory.