BOSTON, Mass. — The X-Men have an X factor, and his name is Joe Perricone.
Defending national champions Boston University outshot their northern neighbors by a 53-16 margin, but Perricone stopped 51 shots as St. Francis Xavier scored a goal in the last three minutes to tie the Terriers 2-2 in front of 4,425 at Agganis Arena.
Nick Bonino and Corey Trivino, the centers of the top two Terriers’ lines, scored the two BU goals, while Nick Pageau and Bryce Swan scored for the X-Men.
“I was really happy with our overall effort in terms of poise with the puck,” Terriers’ coach Jack Parker said. “We only had three days of practice, and I think we did a number of things pretty well.”
Parker cited forechecks, breakouts, and defensive-zone coverage as positives for his team.
“I was disappointed in one major thing,” Parker added. “As the game progressed and we were having our way with them with shots, it seemed as if we felt ‘Well, we’ll get the next goal.’ But we never really went after it to make sure we got the next goal; we thought that it would come easy.”
Obviously, Perricone had a great deal to do with that.
“I was hugging my goalie, no question, when we came into the room,” X-Men coach Brad Peddle said. “We came into this knowing what we were up against in the defending national champs, but I liked how our guys competed from start to finish and found a way to tie the game at the end.”
Although just a freshman, it wasn’t as if the Terriers were facing a jittery rookie. Canadian universities have more leeway in terms of who is allowed to play.
“Joey Perricone is a first-year goalie who played five years in the Western Hockey League for the Moose Jaw Warriors and has been in two NHL training camps before deciding to come back to school,” Peddle said.
Regardless of the failure to light the lamp, there were many positives for the Terriers. After a breakthrough year as a junior, senior Zach Cohen looks poised for greater accomplishments this season. Parker agreed that Cohen was hands-down the best forward on the ice for BU tonight.
Likewise, BU dressed seven freshmen as well as several sophomores who struggled to get ice time last season, and all of them looked like they will contribute this season. All of them had their moments, but Parker singled out Sean Escobedo, Brian Strait’s replacements, as the most poised of the bunch.
After a nice drive to the net at 1:20 of the first period, Cohen raised eyebrows by burying an X-Men player with a crushing hit while killing a penalty at 6:35. BU dominated the first period, outshooting St. Francis Xavier by a whopping 19-3 margin. Several minutes of five-on-three play had something to do with it.
At one point, the Terriers kept the puck in the X-Men zone for a solid three or four minutes without a single clear. Eventually, exhausted Terriers came off the ice one at a time, but the puck stayed in play in the attacking end. Finally, freshman Ben Rosen took a shot from the point that Perricone blocked, only to have sophomore Andrew Glass nudge the rebound over to Nick Bonino, who finished it off at last.
St. Francis Xavier played significantly better after that, while BU eased up instead of going for the jugular. Cohen nearly scored on a fluky shot from outside the blue line at 6:40 of the second, but it bounced off the crossbar and hit the goalie’s back before getting knocked out of harm’s way. The X-Men countered with a good power play that became more threatening when Escobedo’s stick broke, but Kieran Millan made the save on Brett Robertson.
Just after the midway point of the period, junior Adam Kraus replaced Millan in the Terriers’ net and gave up a goal just 61 seconds later. Off a faceoff, Brennen Wray set up Nick Pageau for a slap shot from the left point, and it beat Kraus low on the stick side at 11:58.
BU regained the lead at 15:50. Freshman Alex Chiasson got the puck behind the net and fed it to Corey Trivino high in the slot. Going down to one knee as he shot, Trivino scored on a high forehand shot to the glove side.
Cohen and Joe Pereira had a pair of nice short-handed chances in the last minute of the period, but Perricone held the fort for the visitors.
BU freshman Ben Rosen got a nice reaction from the crowd on a great defensive play at 5:05 of the third period, but the X-Men tied it up at 17:27 when Bryce Swan knocked home a puck near the crease on a power play. The game went into overtime, but there were no terrific chances either way.
“It’s frustrating to tie, obviously, even in an exhibition game,” Bonino said. “We came out and competed hard, but we ran into a hot goalie.”
“I’m amazed that we outshot them 53-16,” Parker said. “That’s hard to do when you lose 43 faceoffs. We were horrible on faceoffs tonight; we won 26 and lost 43. That was the worst part of our game.”
Parker acknowledged that very little has been decided in terms of the BU lineup.
“I know that the lines will be completely different for the next game. All along I’ve been hemming and hawing. I’ll give Bonino, Trivino, and [Luke] Popko different wings next weekend just to see how they fare with somebody else. So nothing’s set in stone other than the fact that in all probability Bonino and Trivino will be the first two line centers and the first two line left wings will be Cohen and Connolly in all probability. Other than that, it’s a tossup. Lots of ice time to be won and lost in the next few weeks.”
BU will hoist their championship banners next Saturday in another exhibition game, this time hosting the U.S. Under-18 team. St. Francis Xavier faces Boston College on Sunday afternoon.