BOSTON — One has to wonder how many goals Boston College might have scored if it didn’t have to kill off a whopping 15 power plays Friday night.
As it was, the No. 8 Eagles scored nine times, turning a much anticipated matchup with No. 2 Boston University into a decisive rout. In a game that became excruciatingly slow with penalty calls and video reviews, BC blew out BU by a 6-1 margin through the first 40 minutes, and ultimately winning 9-5 after a third period that looked more like pond hockey or the NHL All-Star game.
Cam Atkinson led the way with a pair of goals for the Eagles, while Chris Kreider added a goal and two assists. Freshman Adam Clendening had two assists for the Terriers, who had not given up nine goals since a March 1, 2002, game against Maine.
“We really played an extremely solid and very quick first period,” Eagles coach Jerry York said. “We had a lot of jump, and we were able to get the quick lead. That set the tenor for the night. The game got really chaotic in the third period. That’s about the only word I can think of — the penalties and the number of goals. But it’s the first part of a weekend series, and we’ve certainly got to take less penalties.”
For Terriers coach Jack Parker, the press conference was short but not sweet.
“I thought one team played very well tonight, and it wasn’t us, unfortunately,” Parker said. “I was flabbergasted at how inept we were in many areas of the game — not [in terms of] effort, but we just didn’t execute. All in all, I don’t think one of my guys had a good night tonight. A lot of it had to do with how hard BC played and how they jumped us. They made us jumpy with the puck; we didn’t execute with passing at all. I was really impressed with them.”
Ranked No. 1 in the preseason, the Eagles had been inconsistent through the first two months of the season, but Friday they made quite an impression in the first three minutes alone. They scored at 2:04 when Jimmy Hayes redirected Brian Dumoulin’s power-play slap shot from the point. Just 23 seconds later, they made it 2-0 when red-hot forward Paul Carey beat Kieran Millan.
BC (10-5, 8-4 Hockey East) almost made it 3-0 three minutes later when Joe Whitney’s shot got through Millan’s legs, only to veer wide. Later in the period, Millan made a great leg save to thwart Carey on a short-handed two-on-one break. The Terriers netminder was less fortunate at 17:45, when Joe Whitney set up Atkinson for a wicked shot that went in high glove side. Another went by, and Millan looked shaky again, getting a piece of a shot that hit the post.
Between Millan’s iffy play and the Terriers’ dismal showing in front of him, the coaching staff opted to put Grant Rollheiser in net before the second period, but that didn’t stop the bleeding. BU (7-2-5, 5-2-4) blew a few chances to clear the zone on a penalty kill and paid for it when Atkinson’s blistering slap shot went in from 25 feet out. Atkinson appeared to have a natural hat trick less than 90 seconds later, but it was called back due to a delayed penalty.
At 8:12, BU got a four-on-four goal when Matt Nieto raced in on the left wing and sold the pass before beating John Muse on the short side. However, BC got that one back on a short-handed goal that you could see coming about 10 seconds in advance. Although BC had solid possession in its own end, the BU defenseman stayed inside the blue line, and Chris Kreider banked the puck off the boards to launch Barry Almeida’s breakaway and goal.
Next, Philip Samuelsson scored on a power-play goal to make it a decisive 6-1 lead through two. After that, BU showed some heart by outscoring BC 4-3 in a wild and wacky third period that featured 10 power plays and a nice goal on a penalty shot by Brian Gibbons, but it was academic at that point.
Every time BU threatened to make it interesting, BC would notch another goal, including a few on brutal defensive turnovers. In general, the Terriers looked uptight and seemed to miss the experience of junior co-captain Chris Connolly, sidelined with a broken finger.
“We haven’t had a stinker all year,” Parker said. “It’s just too bad we had a stinker in front of a big crowd with our big rival. But part of it has to do with the fact that that’s a really experienced, talented team. There’s a reason why they were picked as the preseason No. 1 in the nation.”
“I was looking for about a 3-1 game,” York said of the shootout. “Sometimes the game just gets away from both teams, and tonight was one of those games. Tomorrow could be a 1-0 defensive battle.”