BOSTON, Mass. — Boston University players Zach Cohen and Colby Cohen are not related, but they looked a lot alike on the scoresheet tonight.
Each Cohen scored two goals and an assist to lead the Terriers over No. 15 UMass by a decisive 7-3 margin in front of a vacation-depleted crowd of 4,809 at Agganis Arena today. Kevin Shattenkirk added three assists for BU, while Casey Wellman notched a goal and an assist for the Minutemen.
Coming off a national championship, BU appeared to have a lengthy title hangover for much of the first semester. In a letter to season ticket holders, Terriers’ coach Jack Parker gave his team dismal grades and gave the coaching staff an ‘F’ to boot, stating “the buck stops here.”
As in the Southwest Airlines commercials, the Terriers 4-9-3 start left the team asking “Wanna get away?” So Parker opted to do just that.
“We gave them a lot more time off than we ever have at Christmas break,” Parker said. “I had some guys who left on the 15th who didn’t have to get back until the 28th. I only had a couple of guys who were here until the 18th or 20th. I think it was good for us to get away — get away from the mess we made the first semester, get our minds straight as Cool Hand Luke had to do.
“I thought we came back in a real good frame of mind. I was worried about having that much time off, but we had an afternoon practice the first day back and double sessions — morning and afternoon — the next few days.”
Finally back in action, the Terriers played one of their most solid games of the season.
“It was an effort for 60 minutes,” Parker said. “I thought we did a good job of killing penalties for the most part, and I thought we did a really good job on our power plays. I told our players that the best part of the game was that we played with some pace and we weren’t jumpy with the puck.”
After beating the Terriers earlier this season, UMass coach Don ‘Toot’ Cahoon found his team outmatched today, though playing their third game in just five days was quite a contrast to the Terriers’ layoff.
“I don’t think we were surprised with BU’s physicality and tenaciousness,” Cahoon said. “I think we fully expected that. I think what it did was led to some fundamental breakdowns on our part that really prevented the game from taking shape in a way that we could’ve controlled. Generally, we didn’t do a good job of killing penalties, getting the big save when we needed it, and staying fundamentally sound. We gave up goals that really broke our back.”
Using a different look on the power play — one man behind the net, one at the point, and three down low — BU took the lead at 12:13 of the first period. Stationed very low in the left-wing circle, Colby Cohen took a shot on net. UMass goalie Paul Dainton blocked it, but Nick Bonino swatted it home.
UMass tied it within five minutes when Casey Wellman deftly redirected a pass to T.J. Syner for a goal. BU regained the lead in the period’s last minute when freshman Alex Chiasson took a slap shot from 20 feet away through a Zach Cohen screen.
After a lengthy lull early in the second period, BU obtained their first two-goal lead since November 14. Colby Cohen made a terrific pass off the left-wing boards, backhanding it to Zach Cohen behind the net for a wraparound that caromed off of Dainton and in.
Meanwhile, the referees kept calling penalties on the Terriers. Ultimately BU killed nine of the 12 power plays, but Parker found the officiating to be lopsided. BU only had six power plays.
“I thought the referees called it real, real tight for half of the game, the half where they were watching us,” Parker said.
The Terriers’ coach went on to explain that he actually preferred the NHL style of officiating in which any slight infraction is called. However, he feels that collegiate officiating lacks that level of consistency.
On a five-on-three for over a minute, UMass made it 3-2 when Justin Braun passed to Wellman for an excellent 20-foot one-timer. However, BU returned the favor with a huge call coming with just 8.5 seconds left in the period, as Colby Cohen drilled a one-timer from the farthest part of the left point, depositing it high glove side
BU gradually broke it open in the final frame. On a power play at last, Kevin Shattenkirk set up a Corey Trivino slap shot, and Zach Cohen tipped it in.
“I know I’m a big body, so I just want to get in front of the net and cause some havoc,” the 6’3 left wing said.
UMass got that one back on yet another man advantage when Will Ortiz tipped in at Justin Braun pass at the far post.
Then BU regained the three-goal cushion on another of Colby Cohen’s trademark one-time slap shots.
“I don’t think anybody’s as effective,” Parker said when asked of Cohen’s ability to one-time the puck, though he did that. “Chris Drury could let it rip. A lot of guys can shoot it hard, a lot of guys can shoot one-timers, but his puck just seems to go in the net. He has his head up, and he’s going just off the pipe and in. He’s as good as they get as far as that aspect of the game.”
UMass pulled the goalie to enjoy a six-on-three advantage in the games waning minutes, only to have it backfire. Eric Gryba hustled after a loose puck along the boards deep in his own end, firing it a good 175 feet into the empty net to seal the 7-3 win.
BU (5-9-3, 3-7-2 Hockey East) next faces archrival Boston College at Fenway Park on Friday night, while UMass (11-7-0, 6-5-0) travels to UNH and Northeastern next weekend.