BOSTON — One night after their first loss of the season—and an ugly one at that—No. 2 Boston University turned the tables on New Hampshire.
Tonight it was the Wildcats who imploded with a series of second-period turnovers.
The upshot was four BU goals en route to a 4-2 win in front of 6,063 at Agganis Arena. One night after Kieran Millan had a career high in saves in a losing effort up at UNH, junior Grant Rollheiser equaled the feat with a personal best of 41 saves for the Terriers. Alex Chiasson’s shorthanded goal was the key tally of the game.
The Terriers also notched their fifth come-from-behind victory, matching last season’s total just two months into the season. They are also now 10-1-3 in their last 14 home games.
“That was a nice turnaround for us after last night,” Terriers head coach Jack Parker said, referring to a 5-2 loss that could’ve been much worse if not for the play of Millan. “After we got back to Agganis last night, I put the shot charts up.
“We got one grade ‘A’ shot last night. It was like the grade ‘A’ area was radioactive to us; we weren’t in there at all. Tonight we got at them and got at them a lot better. We gave them a lot of shots outside, and they can generate a lot of offense, but we did a good job of bending and not breaking.”
In contrast, Wildcats Dick Umile was obviously unhappy. Few of the Wildcats’ 43 shots came from close quarters, and the team’s defensive lapses were brutal in the second period.
“I’m just disappointed we lost the game,” Umile said. “We came down here ready to play, and we played well in the first period. I told my team after the second period that we just assisted on four goals that they scored.
“I thought we played well except we mismanaged the puck on our own zone. We gave them the goals. They had some good shots, but we gave them the puck.”
The teams traded chances early. In an omen of things to come, a turnover by Wildcats defenseman Conor Hardowa led to a great bid by BU freshman Charlie Coyle at 4:30 of the first period. Less than two minutes later with UNH on their first power play, Phil DeSimone got the puck on the doorstep with three-fourths of the net open but somehow shot wide.
As the period wore on, the Wildcats gradually gained the upper hand and finally struck with just 49.4 seconds remaining before the first intermission. On a power play in the left-wing circle, Paul Thompson set up freshman defenseman Brett Kostolansky in the slot for his first collegiate goal.
The Terriers got that one back just 28 seconds into period two. After David Warsofsky threw the puck behind the net, linemates Corey Trivino and Alex Chiasson repeatedly whacked at the puck before freshman left wing Matt Nieto finally knocked it home.
Both teams had their share of turnovers in the period, but UNH paid for theirs while BU generally didn’t. at 7:06, Terriers defenseman Max Nicastro coughed up the puck, and speedy Steve Moses raced in before a linemate knocked the puck in—only to have a video review that the net was off its moorings.
Still, UNH regained the lead less than two minutes later. Chiasson’s clearing attempt went off of a skate, and the BU defense flailed around like the Keystone Cops as Thompson and DeSimone’s worked the puck back and forth through the zone until Thompson buried it.
BU tied it within another two minutes. Looking more like a right wing, freshman defenseman Adam Clendening took a nudged pass from Ryan Santana in the neutral zone and raced in on the right side before firing a wrist shot that grazed the post on the way in.
Then the Terriers finally obtained the lead at 16:22 on a shorthanded goal, starting with Trivino digging a puck loose off the right-wing boards. “Corey did a pretty good job on the forecheck, gave me a good pass,” Chiasson said. “I didn’t really look where I was going to shoot; I just let it go, and it happened to be a pretty good shot. I’ll take it, I guess.”
Freshman Sahir Gill rounded out the second-period outburst with just 17.8 seconds remaining before the intermission.
“Gill’s goal was a fabulous goal,” Parker said. “That kid has a knack for the net. When he picked that up, not that we can bet in the NCAA, but I would’ve bet my mortgage that he was going to score that goal because he’s that type of goal scorer.”
After intercepting a pass in the neutral zone, Gill raced in and made a great move in tight quarters as a defender desperately attempted to catch up. After a nifty move, he slipped the puck in—barely over the goal line.
After getting away with all sorts of miscues in the second period, BU tightened things up in the final period, allowing almost no great scoring chances. With a few minutes to go, Rollheiser topped his previous career high of 39 saves. The junior said that the game was a career highlight.
“I think it’s up there pretty high,” Rollheiser said. “I think it was one of the best games I’ve played since I’ve been here, and it was a big win for the team to come back after what happened last night.”
The only bad news for the home team was a key injury suffered in the first period. “The only down was we lost our captain Chris Connolly for four to six weeks with a broken finger,” Parker said. “Losing your captain is one thing, losing your top left wing is another, but it’s really tough to lose a junior from our lineup because we don’t have a lot of them.”
At best, Connolly would miss only five games due to Christmas break.
BU (7-1-4) hosts Brown on Saturday night, five days after UNH (6-2-3) does the same.