BOSTON — After a “legless” effort in game one of the Hockey East quarterfinals on Friday night, No. 6 Boston University managed to spring ahead in game two, just a few hours in advance of the clocks for Daylight Savings Time.
With coach Jack Parker juggling the lines after the loss, sophomore Sahir Gill was moved from right wing back to center and responded with three points to lead the Terriers to a 4-2 win over New Hampshire, evening the best-of-three series in front of 3,624 at Agganis Arena.
Senior Kieran Millan made 35 saves for the victors, while UNH freshman Casey DeSmith played solidly despite yielding four goals on 36 shots.
“Obviously not only happy with the outcome, but happy with the way we played – much better than last night – and we got a ‘W,’” Parker said. “We needed to play well to feel good about ourselves and we did that. And we obviously needed a win to keep our hopes alive of winning a Hockey East championship and we did that.
“I thought we played really well most of the game – just much more thorough – and it looked like we were actually skating tonight. Last night, it looked like we were skating in sand. There was a big change in our overall performance tonight and it showed up on the scoreboard.”
Parker’s counterpart, UNH coach Dick Umile, now must coach his team to victory tomorrow to keep the season alive and to have any chance of avoiding finishing below .500 since 1995-1996 – the longest streak of any Hockey East program.
“Obviously, we know that they’re a good team; they battled back today,” Umile said. “I wouldn’t say it was our best game, especially in the second period when we let people get behind us. They created the breaks with a couple of bounces they got where we didn’t do a good job of defending.”
BU looked much stronger tonight from the get-go, but didn’t score until 11:55 of the first period. Alexx Privitera took a shot from the left point and Alex Chiasson tried to put the rebound through DeSmith’s pads. The puck trickled through, though, and captain Chris Connolly nudged it over the goal line.
UNH tied it halfway through the second period when senior right wing Stevie Moses, who piled up a whopping nine shots over the course of the game, got the puck low in the right-wing circle and sniped a shot that pinpointed the top corner on Millan’s glove side.
BU went ahead late in the period when defenseman Patrick MacGregor made a terrific pass to Gill breaking into the zone. With a tremendous effort, Gill squeezed through two defenders and got hauled down for a delayed penalty call. On his stomach, he managed to knock the puck in for a highlight-reel goal.
Seconds later on the ensuing power play, Wade Megan put one in, but the referee emphatically waved it off because the net had been knocked off its moorings moments before.
UNH tied it up on a power-play goal at 4:04 of the third period. Skating in the on the left wing, Kevin Goumas dropped the puck to Connor Hardowa at the point. With Moses screening Millan, Hardowa’s slap shot found the net.
BU got that one back 50 seconds later. Freshman Evan Rodrigues crossed the puck to Matt Nieto entering the zone and the sophomore left wing fired a wrist shot past DeSmith to make it 3-2.
“That was the biggest goal,” Parker said. “It just got us all jacked up again.”
The Terriers put the game away a few minutes after that. Adam Clendening made a great long pass to Gill moving in on the left wing and Gill crossed it to Ryan Santana crashing the net for his third goal of the year.
“They brought the forecheck pretty hard [and] they were coming hard all night,” Hardowa said of the Terriers. “Any time we made a pass or a play, they seemed to be on us. Their transition game was really good tonight. Every time we made a mistake, they seemed to counter on it.”
In addition to forechecking well, BU did a much better job of adjusting to UNH’s pressure, which gave the Terriers fits all night on Friday. After countless defensive-end turnovers on Friday, BU was much more sound in their own zone tonight.
The teams will face off in the decisive third game of the series at 5 p.m. on Sunday afternoon. It figures to be a tough game, given that the Wildcats are done without a win. BU has very likely clinched a berth in the NCAA tournament regardless of tomorrow’s outcome.