BOSTON, Mass. — After a stirring win over archrival Boston College on Friday, Boston University came out with a real lemon in a loss to New Hampshire the next night.
Over the course of the next several days, however, they were able to produce some lemonade. Monday gave the chance for all parties to air their dirty laundry in a meeting between coaches and players followed by a players only meeting.
The upshot was a better attitude all week, culminating in an unbelievably great practice on Friday, foreshadowing an extremely satisfying 6-2 win for the Terriers over No. 15 Massachusetts in front of 5,361 at Agganis Arena Friday night.
After not playing in a single game during his freshman season, sophomore winger Ross Gaudet scored his sixth and seventh goals to lead BU to victory. That said, there was a long list of noteworthy Terriers. Kieran Millan looked like his old self with a 39-save effort, while defensive pairing Colby Cohen and Max Nicastro each tallied a goal and an assist. Junior Nick Bonino notched three assists to hit the 100-point milestone.
Ive got a feeling we can go on a roll now, Terriers coach Jack Parker said. You can almost feel attitude, and it sure was great this week.
Parker revealed that accepting responsibility was a theme of the meeting with the players.
Coaches accepting responsibility of being too negative at times on the bench and in their minds — and I think theyre correct — not supporting them enough, Parker said. After the BC game, they felt we didnt have confidence that they could come back and win against UNH.
After the coaches accepted that and said their piece, the players had a short but powerful meeting of their own.
Were in it for each other, Bonino said. Were playing for the 26 guys in the locker room, and we dont have a whole lot of time left. Weve been saying that all season, but now it rings true more than ever. We have 11 games in the regular season; if we want to do something, its got to start now and continue through the next games.
Meanwhile, Massachusetts Don Toot Cahoon liked his teams effort but felt that a few key breakdowns and the goaltending of Millan spelled the difference.
I thought both teams came to play tonight, Cahoon said.. I thought both teams battle level was pretty high, and that created the kinds of offensive chances that we saw at both ends tonight. We had 41 shots and they had 37. That speaks to the effort of both teams to try to attack and take the game over.
BU came out skating and hitting, with captain Kevin Shattenkirk playing perhaps his most physical game to date as a Terrier. Millan looked sharpest when the game was tight early on, as he snared a slap shot that Justin Braun ripped at 6:29. That said, Millan was completely out of the net after blocking a shot at 11:44, but Nicastro played a little goalie, blocking a Casey Wellman shot in front of the empty net.
At 17:22, BU took the lead. From his knees in the right-wing circle, Bonino teed up an Eric Gryba one-timer from the point. Goalie Paul Dainton made the save, but the puck went right on the stick of Gaudet, who buried the rebound.
BU had the better chances through the first 30 minutes but sometimes made one too many passes. Finally, they broke it open late in the second period. At 15:27, Bonino won an offensive-end draw to Gaudet, whose shot hit off both posts but managed to cross the line. Just over a minute later, Nicastro teed up a Colby Cohen slap shot for the juniors team-leading ninth goal.
The Minutemen got that one back just 36 seconds later, when Brian Keane scored off the rebound of a Justin Braun shot. But just 66 seconds after that, the Terriers got what Parker referred to as the biggest goal of the game on a power play. Colby Cohen got the puck at the left point and threaded a great pass to Vinny Saponari low at the far post for the redirection and goal.
After scoring just one goal in the first 35 minutes, the two teams had scored four goals in just 2:54.
UMass made it a 4-2 game on a power-play goal midway through the final frame. There was a long-lasting scrum in front of the BU net with no whistle, and finally Martin Nolet pushed it in. Millan protested immediately, apparently because of a hand pass, but the goal stood after video review.
BU basically ended it at 15:07 when David Warsofsky teed up a Nicastro slap shot through traffic just before a power play expired.
There seemed to be a monkey off their back; they all exhaled, Parker said. I thought we played very, very well. We gave up a lot of shots but not a lot of grade A shots.
In the games final minute, Bonino set up a Luke Popko shorthanded goal to round out the scoring and give Bonino his 100thpoint.
Its exciting, Bonino said. Its an honor to join the guys who have 100 points already. Making the plays half the battle — guys were putting the puck in the net. Ross was big tonight.
BU (9-11-3 overall, 7-9-2 in Hockey East) faces Northeastern in the later game of Mondays Beanpot semifinal, while Massachusetts (15-10-0, 10-8-0) plays at Providence Saturday night.