BOSTON — The Jerry York watch will have to wait another game.
The Boston College coach took his top-ranked Eagles into Agganis Arena with 923 career wins, one short of tying Ron Mason as the all-time winningest coach, but Boston University had other plans for the evening.
The Terriers never trailed, outplaying and defeating their archrival, 4-2.
Freshman goaltender Matt O’Connor earned the game’s No. 1 star, stopping 35 shots.
BU took a 2-0 lead in the second period on Garrett Noonan and Evan Rodrigues goals. After BC’s Pat Mullane narrowed the margin, freshman defenseman Matt Grzelcyk scored the biggest goal of the evening in the opening minutes of the third and the Terriers never looked back.
An empty-netter by Wade Megan and an extra skater goal by Johnny Gaudreau resulted in the final score. Both came after York pulled netminder Parker Milner while already on the power play in the closing two minutes.
BC had won 10 straight and 29 of 30 dating back to last January.
“It’s a tough way to make a living,” BU coach Jack Parker said. “You’ve got to come up with a top game to beat BC.”
Which the Terriers very much accomplished. The win marked their first against the two teams ahead of them in the standings, No. 1-ranked BC and second-ranked New Hampshire. BU had lost its first contest with the Eagles and first two against UNH.
“It’s real important to beat the teams ahead of us,” Parker said. “We only have four losses, but three of them are to the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in the country and the other one was at [No. 7] North Dakota.”
With the win, BU closed to within four points of the Eagles in the standings with the opportunity to halve that in Saturday night’s rematch at BC. UNH remained three points ahead with a win over Massachusetts-Lowell.
York dismissed the notion that his team might have been distracted by his closing in on the career win milestone.
“That’s not in our fabric,” he said. “We’re looking for two points.
“BU was better than we were tonight. We had some excellent flurries where O’Connor made some very good saves, but for the most part BU had the territorial edge.
“Their transition game was very good tonight. They had a lot of odd-man rushes off turnovers. They played better than we did tonight and deserved to win the game.”
A scoreless first period included more scoring chances than surely either coach wanted with BC outshooting the Terriers 18-14. At the same time, however, both squads stymied some of the best opportunities with critical blocked shots and passes.
And when all else failed, Milner and O’Connor bailed their teammates out. At 9:30, Kevin Hayes collected a perfect feed from behind the net that gave him a point-blank opportunity. Ironically, the potential “assist” came from a BU defenseman, but O’Connor made the stop.
A minute later, Sahir Gill caught BC napping on a bad change and took a pass at the blue line and skated in all alone, forcing Milner to foil the five-hole shot.
Later in the period, Alexx Privitera dropped into the slot and got off a strong shot only to have to race back the other way as Hayes raced up the right wing, then cut into the slot for a grade A chance of his own.
During the early minutes of the second period, the Terriers owned the territorial play but it took until 9:04 before they could capitalize. Rodrigues shot wide from the left wing, Nieto put the rebound on net and out of midair, defenseman Garrett Noonan swatted it in.
Seven minutes later, Rodrigues doubled the lead, taking a drop pass from Danny O’Regan just inside the right faceoff circle and one-timing it into the top of the net.
The 2-0 lead, however, lasted all of 38 seconds as Mullane responded with a one-timer of his own.
The Terriers got the insurance goal back at 1:46 of the third period. Freshman defenseman Matt Grzelcyk raced behind the BC net left-to-right and caught Milner slow moving post to post and beat him with a wraparound.
BC’s last gasp came when BU took a double minor with 1:58 remaining. York pulled Milner to give the Eagles a six-on-four advantage, but Megan scored the shorthanded empty-netter to seal the win.
After Gaudreau scored his extra skater goal, BU forward Ben Rosen appeared to have recorded another empty-netter, but it was disallowed because BU’s sequence of penalties required them to still play with only three skaters, but the officials mistakenly allowed them to play with four.