ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Boston University sophomore goaltender Matt O’Connor was the story of this game for two periods tonight. Through the first 40 minutes of play, O’Connor was flawless, stopping 30 shots and shutting down through four penalty kills a Michigan power play that was converting at over 37 percent coming into tonight’s contest.
In the third period though, the Wolverines’ power play wrote a different ending to this game’s story with freshman Tyler Motte’s fourth goal of the season at 7:16 and sophomore Alex Guptill’s penalty successful penalty shot at 8:46. O’Connor made 42 saves in the game, but the Wolverines won 2-1.
“They scored two goals on penalties,” said Boston University coach David Quinn. “It’s been a problem for us all year long — for a long time — and it’s just got to get out of our game. If we’re going to have success, we can’t keep taking penalties.
“Three penalties in the first nine minutes and it really sets the tone. I thought we were on our heels the whole first period. The last three minutes [of the first period], we actually rebounded and scored a goal, but you can’t play well three minutes in a period and expect to win hockey games. It’s not going to happen. We just have to do a better job with penalties. It’s unacceptable.”
The Terriers scored on their fifth shot on goal of the game at 18:25 in the first on freshman Robbie Baillargeon’s shot from the right circle and held that 1-0 lead through two periods. Even with the lopsided shots on goal total, both the Wolverines and the Terriers had quality shots through two periods and the game never felt like an early season contest.
“There weren’t a lot of mistakes in the game,” said Michigan coach Red Berenson. “There were very few blatant turnovers or blatant bad plays. This was a well-played, hard-played game between two teams. We might have had the momentum and we should’ve; we’re at home and we’ve got to get on a run and we have a lot of respect for their program.”
The Wolverines tied the game on Motte’s goal, a one-timer from the right circle that finished a cross-crease pass from senior defenseman Mac Bennett. On his penalty shot, Guptill took a slow approach but put a fast shot through O’Connor’s five-hole for the eventual game-winner.
Freshman Zach Nagelvoort made 18 saves in his second start and second win. Nagelvoort got the chance to start last weekend when sophomore Steve Racine was injured in the third period of Michigan’s 1-1 road tie against New Hampshire Oct. 18.
“I liked our goalie,” said Berenson. “I really liked our goalie and this is his first home start. A lot of pressure on him for a lot of reasons. He’s a local mission kid and his grandparents live here. He’s always wanted to come to Michigan. Now’s his chance to start at home, and I thought he looked solid.” Berenson said that Nagelvoort will start against visiting Massachusetts-Lowell Saturday night.
Quinn said that the decision to play O’Connor came today.
“He’s a really good goalie,” said Quinn. The sophomore has been splitting time in net with classmate Sean Maguire. “They both have had great weeks in practice. It was just a hunch, really. I don’t make that decision on my own, so I’m not going to take credit for it.”
Quinn wasn’t sure who would start in the BU net Saturday when the Terriers travel to East Lansing to face Michigan State.