It was a case of better late than never for No. 6 Boston University tonight, and, for that matter, much better later than earlier.
After two sluggish periods with minimal scoring chances for either team, BU fell behind early in the third before scoring twice in the last four minutes to eke out a 2-1 win over Massachusetts-Lowell in front of 4,829 at Agganis Arena. It was the fourth come-from-behind win in the season’s first month for the victors.
Co-captain Chris Connolly scored with 27.5 seconds remaining to win it for the Terriers. Junior Grant Rollheiser stopped 24 of 25 River Hawks shots, and Alex Chiasson notched his third goal of the year. For UML, freshman goalie Doug Carr had a strong game with 28 saves.
Terriers coach Jack Parker had some kind words for his counterpart afterwards.
“I told Blaise MacDonald after the game, ‘If there was any justice, this would’ve been a tie or maybe even a loss for us,’” Parker said. “After being back on their heels last night, they came in and played us toe-to-toe tonight. We didn’t play anywhere near as thorough as we have to play, and they took advantage of that.”
“I thought it was a well-fought, well-contested Hockey East game,” MacDonald said. “I thought guys played really courageously and with pace and with structure. You have to because BU is doing all those things. They’re playing with great pace and structure and organization.”
Those comments seemed a little generous, as BU had some great moments but generally played an inconsistent game. In the first period, BU’s defensive corps got disrupted when Max Nicastro was tossed from the game on a hit-from-behind less than seven minutes in. However, Lowell lost senior Patrick Cey to a lower body injury as well, which may have explained why both teams seemed out of sync at times.
BU did have a great chance midway through the period when freshman Matt Nieto split two defenders to go in on Carr, only to fail to lift a backhander above the goalie’s right pad. Less than two minutes later, Rollheiser was challenged on a clear breakaway by David Vallorani, but he made a pad save, too.
Lowell really clamped down in the second period, limiting BU to two scoring chances, including some tic-tac-toe power-play passing by Chris Connolly and Charlie Coyle to set up Joe Pereira on the doorstep. Carr was there for the save.
“I thought we were very good positionally,” MacDonald said. “We had good sticks and good pressure at the point of attack. Our freshman goaltender played outstanding and that gave us a level of certainty moving forward.”
For BU, the only real positive of the first two periods was that Rollheiser made the saves, and the defense was always there to clear the rebound out of harm’s way.
“We’re in better position because of our D-zone and much more alert to protect the weak side and the far pipes,” Parker said. “With the exception of maybe [defensemen Sean] Esbobedo and [Garrett] Noonan, I don’t think anybody played three good periods tonight.”
The River Hawks finally took the lead early in the third when Joe Caveney’s pass from behind the net teed up a one-timer for Joseph Pendenza that beat Rollheiser.
As the period wore on, though, BU played with real zest at last and finally got the game-tying goal at 16:17. From the right point, David Warsofsky spied Charlie Coyle low in the left-wing circle and threaded a pass to him. Coyle slipped it to Alex Chiasson just outside the crease for the goal.
With overtime looming in the final minute, BU got the game-winner on a great read by David Warsofsky after a rush up the left wing. Instead of going directly to the net with the puck, the junior defenseman somehow noticed Connolly trailing the play, skating into the slot, before passing it to him through traffic.
“It’s kind of a risky play because if ‘Conno’ misses the pass, they’re going the other way,” Warsofsky said. “I saw him out of the corner of my eye and luckily the pass got through; there were a lot of sticks there.”
MacDonald was duly impressed with Warsofsky’s vision on both assists. “He plays with his eyes up, and when you do that, you have a chance to make plays.”
Connolly’s shot somehow slipped through two or three players before going in. “I honestly just slapped at it; I don’t know how it went in.”
BU is now 6-0-1 and 4-0-1 in Hockey East.
“When you don’t play your best and you win, you might say that’s pretty good,” Parker said. “But I would feel a lot better if this were a road game instead of a home game. We’re played so much more thorough on the road then we have at home in terms of a thorough 60 minutes. We just seem to be more la-di-da at home, and we’ve got to get that out of our system.”
“It was a gutsy win for us,” Connolly said. “We didn’t start off the way we want to after our most convincing win of the season last night. It’s a good sign that we were able to battle back and get a win.”
BU will try to come up with a stronger effort at home against Maine next weekend, while Mass.-Lowell (1-4-2, 1-4-0) prepares for a road game at Boston College on Tuesday.