When Friday night’s game between college hockey’s top rivals Boston College and Boston University began, all eyes were focused on BC netminder Cory Schneider and his bid for the all-time longest regular-season shutout streak.
By the time the night ended, not only was Schneider’s bid quashed but so was their quest for a victory as the No. 13 Terriers upset the No. 1 Eagles, 4-3, in front of a sellout crowd of 7,884 at BC’s Conte Forum.
The shutout streak came to an end at 4:30 of the second period and set up a clip of four-straight
Terrier goals to give BU a 4-2 lead midway through the third period. BC would get a Brett Motherwell goal with 9:42 to play, but from there it was the chance-forgotten goaltender – BU’s John Curry’s – time to shine.
“He’s the best goaltender in BU history as far as stats are concerned,” said Terriers head coach Jack Parker, defending the consistent play of his own goaltender. “He’s a hell of a goaltender and we like how he’s playing right now.”
Indeed, on Friday night at least, Curry was also the best goaltender on the ice, but there was no denying that Schneider, and his streak deserved recognition.
The total shutout streak, which spanned over a 14-day, five-game period, ended at 242:19, just 12:04 short of fellow Eagle Scott Clemmensen’s mark of 254:23, the longest in BC history and the longest NCAA Division I regular-season stretch.
“It meant that I was just playing to the best of my ability,” said a humble Schneider when asked to reflect on the streak. “Unfortunately tonight, I wasn’t.
“It’s always great to play like that, though. That’s when hockey is at its most fun.”
Parker admitted that his team discussed Schneider’s shutout streak throughout the week. But rather than focus on Schneider’s accomplishments, he chose to talk about BU’s past success against the red-hot netminder.
It was the Terriers who posted Schneider’s last multiple-goal against game. BU handed Schneider and the Eagles a 6-2 loss at Agganis arena back on December 3. Since then Schneider has allowed two one-goal games and recorded three shutouts.
“We talked about the fact that he’s been on a streak since we gave him a hard time at Agganis,” said Parker. “We wanted to make sure we knew we could at least get [some goals] on him.
“I didn’t want to talk about his statistics. If I’ve talked about that too much maybe we wouldn’t have [made the trip to BC] up Commonwealth Ave.”
While most everyone in the building was biting their nails throughout the first 20 minutes, wondering if and when the streak would end, the BC offense was busy finding itself a 2-0 lead.
After killing a 5-on-3 BU power play, the Eagles were given a two-man advantage of their own. Unlike the Terriers, BC was able to capitalize.
Peter Harrold one-timed a Motherwell pass that deflected off a Terrier defender in front and past Curry at 7:32 for the 1-0 lead.
At 14:58, Andrew Orpik doubled the advantage. Linemate Joe Rooney stole the puck at the offensive blueline and fed Orpik who had a little bit of space. He skated two strides and fired a wrister that beat Curry cleanly for the 2-0 Eagles lead.
The sellout crowd held its breath on a couple of shots that seemed to handcuff Schneider, but through 20 minutes the streak rode on, just 16:35 away from history.
Early in the second, all questions of whether or not the streak would reach record proportions were answered early, when defenseman Kevin Schaeffer scored on the power play at 4:30. Skating down the right wing side, his shot snuck between Schneider’s legs and, as it sat near the goal line, Schneider kicked it into the net as he attempted to close his legs.
The shutout streak was over, prompting the BC crowd to recognize the feat with a standing ovation.
The Terriers proved quickly that it wouldn’t be another 200-plus minutes before Schneider would be beat again, as Eric Thomassian, playing for an injured John Laliberte (sprained left knee), evened the game. He buried a nifty David van der Gulik pass at 11:52. Van der Gulik craftily maneuvered behind the Eagles net and caught the BC defense and Schneider by surprise with his centering pass, leaving a wide open net for Thomassian to net his third goal of the season.
Early in the third, the BU onslaught continued. Rookie sensation Brandon Yip fired a riffling wrist shot from the left faceoff dot that beat Schneider cleanly stick side at 1:32, giving the Terriers their first lead of the game at 3-2.
Brad Zancanaro netted what turned out of the be the game-winner at 8:19, finishing off a set of tic-tac-toe passes from Jason Lawrence and Schaeffer on the power play to give the Terriers a two-goal cushion.
Motherwell’s first collegiate goal, also on the power play, with 9:44 remaining brought BC within one, but that was as close as the Eagles could get.
The impressive display of goaltending at both ends saw Schneider finish the game with 27 saves. Curry topped that, making 30 saves of his own, including 11 in the third period.
“[BC coach] Jerry [York] said the same thing – it was a great college hockey game and both goaltenders played extremely well,” said Parker.
The win gives Boston University the regular-season league series versus the Eagles for the first time since the 2001-02 season. It also pulls the Terriers within six points of the first-place Eagles. BU sits tied for second with Providence.
The Terriers now own the nation’s longest winning streak (six games). The loss snaps BC’s seven-game winning streak and a ten-game unbeaten streak.
Both teams continue Hockey East play Saturday night. BU will host Massachusetts while BC will travel to Lowell.