BOSTON — If Hockey East was looking to open the season with a bang by matching up perennial heavyweights Boston University and New Hampshire, it didn’t get the desired result.
Although the game played out considerably closer than the final 5-0 score, the Terriers still took a 2-0 second-period lead and pretty much ended all suspense with an early third-period goal.
Kieran Millan recorded 35 saves while tying the school record for career wins (62). With his next one, he’ll move ahead of Sean Fields (2000-2004).
“He’s one of the best goalies ever to play here in a long line of really good goalies,” said BU coach Jack Parker.
Although UNH goaltender Matt DiGirolamo gave up four goals, most were of the slim-to-no chance variety.
“I thought both goaltenders played great,” said Parker. “It could have been a 4-3 game at the end of the second period. The goal at the beginning of the third was the biggest goal. That took care of business.”
Five different Terriers scored, and Chris Connolly, Sahir Gill, and Charlie Coyle all recorded two assists. Alex Chiasson scored one goal and assisted on another.
“All our players played extremely well,” said Parker. “Our seniors… all three freshmen. We only gave up six shots in the third period.”
For UNH, the result couldn’t be anything other than disappointing. Despite a considerable number of grade ‘A’ opportunities, none of the Wildcats could solve Millan, and the breakdowns in the defensive zone doomed them.
“It’s called team defense,” said UNH coach Dick Umile. “We just didn’t do a very good job in our own end. We let the game get away from us the way we played in our own end.
“Give them credit, they outplayed us. They moved the puck pretty well in their offensive zone. We didn’t do a great job covering them. But we’ll get better at it.”
The first period ended scoreless, but not for wont of good scoring chances by both sides. Millan stopped all 11 UNH shots; DiGirolamo stopped 10.
Midway through the period, Millan kicked off a flurry of top-notch saves in both ends, making his first after a bad pinch by Patrick MacGregor led to a UNH two-on-one. Nick Sorkin fed Austin Block on the weak-side post, but Millan quickly moved to foil the opportunity.
Little more than a minute later, DiGirolamo countered off a Cason Hohmann pass to Wade Megan in the slot.
Then back at the other end, Mike Borisenok took a pass near the inner left hashmarks, but couldn’t get the puck past Millan.
Perhaps the best save for the Terriers, however, came in the closing minute. While on a power play, they dodged a penalty shot bullet. Kevin Goumas took off on a partial breakaway, forcing Adam Clendening to take him down. The call of a penalty shot would have been within reason, but the borderline call went BU’s way, and the Wildcats failed to capitalize on the resulting man advantage.
BU finally broke the scoring drought while on a power play at 3:16 of the second. A Gill shot from the point caromed behind the net, where Connolly collected it and passed it in front. Megan one-timed it past DiGirolamo.
Two and a half minutes later, Connolly took a Gill pass on the outside edge of the right faceoff circle and set up Cory Trivino on the weak-side post. Trivino tapped it in past a defenseless DiGirolamo for a 2-0 lead.
Millan had to come up with a big save on Kevin McCarthy seconds later however, to maintain the two-goal margin going into intermission.
The Terriers got their huge insurance goal early in the third when Matt Nieto converted the rebound of a Chiasson shot.
Umile pulled DiGirolamo for an extra attacker with more than four and a half minutes left, gambling that the Wildcats could get on the scoreboard, but Chiasson took a center-ice pass from Coyle and scored the open-netter.
With three minutes left, Kevin Gilroy completed the rout, capitalizing on a turnover to swing out in front and make it 5-0.