BOSTON, Mass. — On Friday night, No. 4 Boston University went up to No. 9 Mass.-Lowells house and proceeded to soap up their windows with a 5-4 overtime win. Tonight, the River Hawks did the equivalent of covering Agganis Arena in toilet paper, beating the host Terriers 3-2 in front of a crowd of 4,792.
Ben Holmstrom led the way with a goal and an assist for the victors, who also received a 24-save performance from netminder Nevin Hamilton. Vinny Saponari and Kevin Shattenkirk each scored their first goal of the season in a losing effort for the Terriers.
“That was an impressive victory by our team,” River Hawks’ coach Blaise MacDonald said. “I give our team a lot of credit. Emotionally, that was a difficult game to swallow last night. Good teams always bounce back. And then when you equate the fact that we’re playing a great BU team on the road, that’s a real credit and testimony to the mental toughness of our team.
“In this league, we’re so familiar with each other, anything can happen, home ice or not. Winning on the road is huge in this league.”
Terriers’ coach Jack Parker generally thought that this was a better-played game than the night before, as the scorers “earned their goals.”
However, he pointed to a troika of issues leading to his team’s downfall.
“The game revolved around three things,” Parker said. “We start the game taking three absolutely stupid penalties and give them three power plays right off the bat. Rule number one is don’t beat yourself, and we beat ourselves in that first period.
“Another major problem was that we were absolutely horrendous off of faceoffs. The first two periods they won 85 percent of the faceoffs. That might’ve been the worst thing in the game. Finally, our inability to stop them below the dots. They got the puck in the crease at will many, many times. Our goalie had to stop grade ‘A’ shots from eight inches from our goalie, a foot from our goalie, two feet from our goalie. We were really inept at covering out front.”
The River Hawks initially looked as if they might struggle to bounce back from last night’s deflating loss.
Three power plays eventually helped them ratchet up their energy, however, and they scored the game’s first goal at 9:32 of the first period. Scott Campbell took a shot, and Michael Scheu strained to get the puck on his stick in the crease with half of the net open, but he couldn’t find the handle. Seconds later, though, Scheu got a second chance. This time he buried the rebound to give Lowell the early lead.
The most exciting exchange of the period came just before the 18-minute mark. Terriers’ left wing Zach Cohen’s bad pass led to a breakaway for Colin Wright, only to have BU senior Eric Gryba hustle back to break up the play. BU raced off the other direction, and Alex Chiasson made a nifty move to set up Andrew Glass for a scoring chance, only to have Hamilton make the stop.
The second period was Lowell’s best, though it didn’t start off that way. On a power play, Terriers’ defenseman David Warsofsky made a nice read to pass to Vinny Saponari in prime goal-scoring real estate, but the sophomore couldn’t get the handle on the puck.
Like Scheu in the first period, however, Saponari got another chance within seconds. Warsofsky took a slap shot that caromed off the boards behind the goal line. Wade Megan battled for the rebound before Saponari swooped in to pot the goal up high at 5:13.
Just 43 seconds later, the River Hawks answered with a sudden goal from Chris Auger.
Lowell extended its lead at 13:49.
“It was just a power play,” Holmstrom said. “We work it around like we try to. It went from up top to the flank and [Kory] Falite got a shot off. It came off the goalie’s chest and landed in front. I just tried to get it over his net, and it snuck over his glove.”
BU made it a 3-2 game at 14:47 of the second stanza. On a power play, Alex Chiasson picked up the puck in the left-wing corner before firing it out to Shattenkirk along the boards. The Terriers’ captain drifted out before blasting a slap shot that beat Hamilton.
The River Hawks succeeded in slowing the game down for a good while in the third period. Warsofsky and Chris Connolly had some strong efforts that yielded scoring chances, but to no avail. After Zach Cohen was robbed on a rebound of a Warsofsky shot at 18:05, Terriers’ goalie Kieran Millan was pulled, but the Terriers couldn’t tie it.
“Tonight was so disheartening because we played pretty hard and didn’t get the result that we wanted,” Shattenkirk said.
“If you told me on Thursday that we’d have a split, I’d take that, knowing that Bonino is out and we’re playing one of the best teams in the league,” Parker said. “But once you win the first one, you want to get the second one.”
BU (2-3-0, 1-2-0 Hockey East) goes on the road next Friday and Sunday to play Northeastern and Maine, respectively. Mass.-Lowell (4-2-0, 2-1-0) travels to Vermont on Friday before hosting New Hampshire on Sunday.