BOSTON — The Boston University season – and their head coach Jack Parker – live to play another day.
Knowing that a loss on Friday would end the season, the Terriers rallied from a two-goal deficit with less than eight minutes to play in the second period to score five straight goal en route to a 6-3 victory over archrival Boston College on Friday.
2013 Hockey East Championship
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“I thought my guys were uptight,” Parker of his team’s play early on. “We were tentative. Then we got that goal to make it 2-1 and the opposite happened.”
BU’s leading scorer, Danny O’Regan, looking to become the first Terrier since Tony Amonte to lead the team in scoring as a rookie, and Evan Rodrigues paced the BU offense with two goals apiece, while netminder Sean Maguire was solid in net with 45 saves.
Special teams looked early on like it may be BU’s Achilles heel, as the Terriers failed to score on their first three power plays while allowing a BC tally with the man-advantage.
But just as the game turned around, so, too, did the special teams. BU finished the game three-for-seven on the man-advantage and killed the Eagles’ final five power plays, also scoring an empty-netter while shorthanded.
“For the first 30 minutes, I thought we played as well as we’ve played all year,” said BC associate head coach Mike Cavanaugh, who, alongside Greg Brown, substituted for head coach Jerry York on Friday as York recovers from eye surgery. “Particularly in the third period, we just didn’t kill penalties well. Both teams played only three lines, I think, and we just didn’t have the energy we had [killing penalties] earlier in the game.”
The victory for BU prolongs the legendary coaching career of Parker, who less than two weeks ago announced he will retire at season’s end. BU will need a similar result on Saturday if Parker is to reach the NCAA tournament.
Boston College controlled the early going, outshooting BU 18-7, but it wasn’t until late in the frame that the Eagles were able to beat Maguire. Bill Arnold netted his 17th goal of the season on the rush, banking a bad-angle shot off of defenseman Garrett Noonan and over Maguire’s shoulder.
In the second, BC continued to dominate, at one point holding a 28-9 advantage in shots. Quinn Smith extended the Eagles’ lead at 8:46 working a perfect give-and-go with Pat Mullane, redirecting a pass at the right post past Maguire.
That goal seemingly woke up the Terriers, though, and within a span of less than six minutes, scored three times to take the lead.
Rodrigues made a nice move inside the blue line on the rush, faked out a BC defenseman and fired a shot five-hole past BC netminder Parker Milner (21 saves) to pull the Terriers within a goal.
Just 2:04 later, Matt Lane scored to tie the game, capitalizing on a BC miscue. On an offensive-zone draw for the Eagles, the puck hopped over the stick of converted defenseman Danny Linell and Lane was off to the races, poking the puck five-hole on Milner.
After a penalty to Mike Matheson for tripping at 16:56, the Terriers grabbed their first lead as Noonan one-timed a Matt Grzelcyk pass from the right faceoff dot past Milner for the 3-2 lead.
“Once we got that [power-play] goal, suddenly our power play looked pretty sharp,” remarked Parker.
The power play was especially friendly to the Terriers in the third as O’Regan scored twice with the man-advantage, once during a major penalty to Johnny Gaudreau at 1:42 and again at 8:57.
Steven Whitney, who took the penalty that led to BU’s fifth goal, tried to get his team back in the game with 6:17 remaining when he surprised Maguire with a high shot under the crossbar.
But that was all the Eagles could muster as the Terriers shut the door defensively, particularly on a late BC man-advantage where Rodridgues sealed the deal with an empty-net goal.
The loss is the first for BC’s seniors in the Hockey East tournament and at the TD Garden, having entered with perfect 14-0 records in each.
The Eagles, though, know they will live to see another day having already locked up an NCAA berth.
Boston University doesn’t have that luxury and will need to upset the league’s regular-season champion, Lowell, a club that swept BU in the regular season.
“We have a chance to not just win a championship, but to go to another tournament,” said Parker. “But we will have our hands full with Lowell [Saturday] night.”