BOSTON, Mass. — Terrier senior Chris Higgins got a kick out of scoring the game-winning goal tonight.
After having a second period goal waved off because the referee believed that Higgins kicked it in, the left wing scored the game winner in the third when a Colby Cohen slap shot went off his skate and went in to give BU a 3-2 win over UMass-Lowell in front of a crowd of 4,520 at Agganis Arena.
It was kind of ironic after they called the first one back, Higgins said. I had no kicking motion whatsoever [on the goal that was waved off].
Though Higgins had the game-winner, BUs fourth line of Joe Pereira, Luke Popko, and Zach Cohen did the heavy lifting tonight, figuring in two of the three goals. Pereira was voted the No. 1 star of the game with a goal and an assist. Kieran Millan had another strong game in net for the Terriers as well, while David Vallorani and Maury Edwards scored for the River Hawks in a tough battle between the Hockey East foes.
Well, that was tooth and nail, Terrier coach Jack Parker said. I was really concerned after the end of the second period when we attempted 21 shots to their nine, and we came out tied 2-2 So they kind of dodged a bullet, and then we dodged a bullet the last four or five minutes of the game, especially when the pulled a goalie. They hit a pipe.
I thought it was a pretty good college hockey game, Lowell coach Blaise MacDonald said. As the road team, I thought we did a pretty good job of forcing turnovers in the middle of the rink. We just didnt convert enough on our chances. When it was 1-0, we had two great chances for Kory Falite and Vallorani on the back door. We have to convert on those to beat a team like BU.
Lowell came out checking tenaciously, with their second line crashing the net for a few chances in the first half-minute. The River Hawks proceeded to win a few offensive-end faceoffs in a row, and BU ultimately paid for it. Terrier co-captain John McCarthy tried to clear the puck from his end, but his pass bounced off a skate and landed on the stick of Lowell freshman David Vallorani. The centerman wristed a 20-footer that found the corner of the net at 1:04.
The visitors very nearly made it 2-0 at 10:30, when Patrick Cey passed the puck from the right wing to Vallorani crashing the far post. BU freshman netminder Kieran Millan slid across the crease for the great save. Millan made another nice save at 18:10, extending a pad to thwart Kory Falite.
BUs fourth line did a fantastic job of taking the energy up a level to produce a goal in the periods last minute. Zach Cohen raced in and got off a shot, then Luke Popko narrowly missed on the rebound. Seconds later, defenseman David Warsofsky took a shot from the left point, and right wing Joe Pereira slipped the rebound around Nevin Hamilton to tie it up with 56.4 seconds left in the period.
That was a huge goal, Parker said. When you give up a goal like that on the road at the end of a period, it really kills. [The fourth line] was dominating down low, and then they got rewarded for it, which was great.
BU collectively took it up notch early in the second. They nearly took the lead at 2:30 when Jason Lawrence was denied on the doorstep, attempting to bury a Colin Wilson rebound. Less than two minutes later, Nick Bonino had a great steal to set up a bid for Brandon Yip on the doorstep, but Yip hit it off his left leg.
The Terrier faithful really thought that they had one at 6:07. Colby Cohen took a shot from the right wing, and Chris Higgins knocked in the rebound — only to have referee Chip MacDonald rule that he kicked it in. The play went to video review, but the call was not reversed.
Lowell started getting some chances of their own and finally regained the lead at 14:17. With the teams playing four skaters aside, Scott Campbell passed from the right point to Maury Edwards at the left point. Edwards failed to get good wood on the slapper, but the puck knuckled through traffic and beat Millan high on the glove side.
BUs fourth line struck again 86 seconds later. Behind the Lowell net, Pereira wheeled and fed it to Zach Cohen on the edge of the crease for the quick tap in to knot the score again.
In an eerie bit of dj vu, Lowell lost their starting goalie to injury in the second period — just as had happened against BU in their November 7 game. This time the roles were reversed, with Hamilton leaving due to injury and Carter Hutton coming in to replace him. Ironically, it was Huttons first time back in net since that ankle injury. With Hamilton, it was a groin injury that looked bad. Its not clear how long he will be out.
Im very proud of our team, MacDonald said. When you lose a goalie — again — and have somebody come in who hasnt played since November, it can rattle the core of your team and your emotional state. And I thought we played very well and that Carter Hutton handled it tremendously.
Lowell had the first chance of the third period on a two-on-one rush. Paul Worthington crossed to Nick Monroe, who knocked the puck off of a pipe at 3:50. A minute later, a Yip shot trickled through Hutton but was cleared before it reached the goal line.
BU took their first lead of the night at 7:38 with a power-play goal. Colin Wilson stickhandled in the right-wing faceoff circle before spotting Colby Cohen creeping in from the left point. Cohen buried a one-timer from near the left-wing dot.
The River Hawks really should have tied it at 11:30, when Scott Campbell somehow missed a half-empty net on a power play. Then Millan made a great stretched-leg save on Ben Holmstrom at the 14-minute mark to preserve the lead.
Both teams get a lengthy break now before playing in holiday tournaments. BU (11-4-1, 6-4-1 Hockey East) plays against Rensselaer and then either Denver or Holy Cross in the Denver Cup on January 2 and 3, while UMass-Lowell (8-8-0, 5-6-0) plays Minnesota-Duluth and either Notre Dame or Union in the Shillelagh Tournament in Illinois on the same days.