BOSTON — It was the best of ties, it was the worst of ties.
Given that No. 2 Boston University trailed upstart Brown by 2-0 just over three minutes into the game, it was a well-earned point for the Terriers, but given that BU couldn’t keep the pedal down after racing to a 3-2 lead, even when the Bears’ top goal scorer and captain Harry Zolnierczyk missed half the game due to stupid penalties, it was a point lost at home by the Terriers as well.
In front of 5,353 fans at Agganis Arena, BU and Brown battled to a 4-4 tie. Defensemen David Warsofsky and Garrett Noonan led the Terriers with two assists apiece, while goalie Mike Clemente made 38 saves for the Bears. It was the fifth tie in just 13 games this season for BU.
“I have a closet full of ties; I’ve got enough ties,” Terriers coach Jack Parker said, noting that four of the five ties have come at home. “I thought both teams played well. They’re a very good hockey team. I was trying to explain to my team that they’re the Merrimack of the ECAC. They’ve been a cellar dweller for a long time, and now all of a sudden they’re a real good team. They’ve got enough talent to beat you, but usually they beat you by outworking you, and they certainly tried to outwork us tonight.
“If you’re down 2-0, it’s good to get out alive, I guess, but when you’re up 3-2, you should win the game at home.”
The tie was more satisfying for Brown coach Brendan Whittet.
“I thought we played very well for stretches in that game,” Whittet said. “Our problem came from having to kill too many penalties, self-inflicted penalties that unfortunately taxed our depth. So we had guys who played a lot of minutes.
“For us, we’re trying to build something special and reclaim former glory for Brown hockey, so I was proud of the guys.”
BU got into a hole just 85 seconds into play on a bit of a fluke goal. An initial shot was blocked, and the puck popped high in the air near the crease. Zolnierczyk tried to glove it but apparently missed, but the puck landed on the stick of Jesse Fratkin, who buried it.
At 3:01, Brown stunned BU with a second goal. Defenseman Ryan Ruikka coughed up the puck, and Zolnierczyk went in alone on Kieran Millan for the tally.
BU got that one back at 8:18 on Ben Rosen’s first collegiate goal. Freshman defenseman Grant Noonan, who had arguably his best game as a Terrier to date, slipped the puck from the right point to Rosen in the right-wing circle. His shot beat Clemente through the five-hole.
The Terriers tied it up early in the third. On a two-on-one with Corey Trivino, co-captain Joe Pereira elected to shoot. Clemente made the initial save and seemed to have the puck under control, but no whistle came. Pereira poked at the goalie’s pads and knocked it in. Noonan notched another assist.
“The thing about Noonan is he always plays the right way,” Parker said. “He’s not trying to be flashy; he’s not trying to impress people. By not trying to impress people, he impresses a lot of people because he plays the game the way it should be played. A lot of people are looking for a puck-moving defenseman who plays hard defensively, and that’s him.”
BU took the lead less than five minutes later on a power play. Alex Chiasson picked up a rebound and waited patiently for an opening before beating Clemente far side.
However, Brown continued their season-long success on the power play within minutes, as tic-tac-toe passing led to a goal for centerman Jack Maclellan.
The Bears regained the lead early in the third when David Brownschidle buried his own rebound while falling down in the slot. Seconds later, Brown faced real adversity when Zolnierczyk received a much deserved five-minute major for kneeing freshman defenseman Adam Clendening. Zolnierczyk had already missed 12 minutes of the second period due to a minor along with a misconduct for unsportsmanlike conduct.
“It was big shoes to fill,” Maclellan said. “He’s our best player. You’ve got to adjust, and some guys had to step up and eat some more minutes. You’ve just got to forget about it and battle through it.”
“He definitely plays with an edge, and that’s when he’s most effective,” Whittet said of Zolnierczyk. “I didn’t think that was a very intelligent penalty. He does play with a chip; he’s just got to know how to rein it in.”
“Come January when we play again, we’ll remember that hit,” BU defenseman David Warsofsky said. The injury to Clendening looked bad at first, but he did return to play later in the period.
Brown survived the major, but BU finally tied it up on Wade Megan’s goal with 7:09 remaining. Warsofsky threw a long-distance shot off the boards behind the net, and Megan managed to collect it and put it in before Clemente figured out where it was.
BU looked strong through regulation and ended up with a 42-23 shot advantage for the night, but it ended in a draw. The Terriers are now 6-0-12 in their last 18 overtime games, dating back to 2007.
The Terriers (7-1-5) face archrival Boston College in a home-and-home series next weekend, while Brown (3-2-3) ends their long stretch on the road with home games against Union and Rensselaer next weekend.