AMHERST, Mass. — He was quiet for a while, for the first 40 minutes, 27 of the seconds of the game. Then Colin Wilson, Hockey East’s leading scorer, put No. 1 Boston University on top for the first time all night, and for good.
Off the opening faceoff of the third period, Wilson dangled into the UMass zone along the right half wall. He pulled up a foot in front of the right faceoff circle before sliding the puck into the high slot. BU senior winger Jason Lawrence blew across the blue line, winding his slap shot up as he gained the zone and timing his contact perfectly. The puck sailed toward UMass sophomore goaltender Paul Dainton, and over his right shoulder.
The goal was Lawrence’s second of the game. He tied the game at 17:11 of the second period and added a third to extend BU’s lead to 5-3. It was Wilson, though, and his 42nd point of the season (14 goals and 28 assists) that made winners of the Terriers tonight.
“I was happy with how we were playing when we were down 1-0, 2-0 and then 3-0; I just didn’t like the results,” BU coach Jack Parker said. “After it was 3-0, [UMass] kind of relaxed a little, and we ratcheted it up. All of a sudden, pucks start dropping in the net for us.”
The win keeps BU one point back of first-place No. 4 Northeastern, who maintained its lead with a 3-0 win over No. 20 Mass.-Lowell. The Minutemen, who allowed the most goals they have all season against BU, fell to seventh place behind Boston College.
The Minutemen carried a 2-0 lead into the second period, and sophomore center Michael Lecomte pushed it to 3-0 when he poked a rebound past BU freshman goaltender Kieran Millan 55 seconds into the second period. BU coach Jack Parker pulled Millan following Lecomte’s goal and inserted fellow freshman Grant Rollheiser. The move kick-started the Terriers, who poured in six unanswered goals following Parkers move.
Even with UMass’ 2-0 lead, the Terriers carried the action for a majority of the first period.
Dainton kept BU scoreless with his 12 saves; the Terriers found seams between the UMass defenders, resulting in quality looks from just beyond the faceoff circles. Recently, UMass’ net-front defense has struggled. Against BU Friday, the Minutemen kept BU on the perimeter, allowing longer shots and trusting Dainton to make the initial save. His defensemen kept the low slot clear; despite the 12 shots, the Minutemen allowed BU few second-chance opportunities.
In the final two periods, the Minutemen continued to play well at their own goalmouth. The Terriers, however, managed to keep traffic in front of Dainton and convert their long-distance looks into quality scoring chances.
The last time the Terriers came to Amherst, UMass coach Don ‘Toot’ Cahoon paired junior captain Brett Watson’s line against BU’s top line. Watson and his wingers held Wilson’s line scoreless in November’s matchup. Tonight, the trio, this time with sophomore Brian Keane and senior Jordan Virtue flanking Watson, had similar success early until Wilson set up Lawrence’s game-winning goal in the opening minute of the third period.
“It’s a 3-3 game, and we go out there on the first shift of the third period and make a mistake in coverage,” Cahoon said. “The puck ends up in the net, and now we’re feeling the pressure. Now, you’re saying ‘How did this happen? How did we have a three-goal lead and now with 19 minutes left in the game losing by a goal?’ We never recovered from that.”
BU outshot UMass 9-5 after Lawrence’s goal made it 4-3. Possession shifted back and forth between the sides, but the Terriers won several crucial puck battles in their defensive zone to prevent any potential UMass breakout late in the game.
The Minutemen and Terriers end their season series Saturday night in Boston at 8 p.m.