The two teams played better, combining for 69 shots and generating more scoring chances and fewer goaltending mistakes for the visitors.
In the end, though, the result in game 2 of this best-of-3 series was identical to the game 1 final. For the second night in a row, Boston University broke open a tight game in the third period and received strong goaltending from John Curry, beating UMass-Amherst by an identical 4-1 score to move on to the Hockey East semifinals on Friday.
In this installment of the recurring theme, John Laliberte, Kenny Roche, and Pete MacArthur each contributed a goal and an assist to help Terrier coach Jack Parker celebrate his 61st birthday. Senior blueliner Dan Spang added a pair of assists, while Curry stopped 32 of 33 shots. Chris Capraro scored the lone goal for UMass, and freshman goalie Jon Quick played very well while stopping 32 of 35 BU shots.
“I thought that this was a better game all-around for both teams,” Parker said. “I told my team today at the pregame skate after watching the film from last night that I thought that we played a ‘C’ game, and they played a ‘C’ game. And I told them I thought that they would play much harder tonight, and they did, and that we needed to play much harder tonight, and we did.
“We made a lot of good plays, but their goaltender played very well. We also gave up jumps, and they forechecked us hard — came at us pretty well. We haven’t given up 33 shots in a while, so it was nice that we outshot them, but we gave up a few too many shots in the third. I was very, very happy to get by them.”
Meanwhile, UMass coach Don “Toot” Cahoon was left to bemoan his team’s inability to capitalize on scoring chances. “I thought the game obviously broke not quite the way we wanted it to early,” Cahoon said. “Giving up that one goal was a little more than we were ready to overcome early in the game. We fought back hard but never really recovered from that.
“However, when I look back and think that we were one goal back as late in the game as we were tonight, that’s probably where I would hope to be. But we weren’t able to crack their safe and put pucks away when given good opportunities, and they, on the other hand, converted when they had a couple of golden chances. That’s why they’re a first-place team, and we ended up being an eighth-place team.”
BU appeared to be off to the races just 76 seconds into the game. On the second shift of the contest, Terrier winger Kenny Roche nudged the puck from the left-wing boards to Pete MacArthur driving toward the net. The sophomore sold Quick on the idea that he would shoot before dishing to Bryan Ewing on his right for the one-timer and a goal.
UMass almost tied it at 11:23 on a bizarre play. Curry attempted to clear the puck from his crease, only to have it bounce off an opponent and pop toward the net. Curry had to jump backwards and glove it while ensuring his momentum didn’t carry him over the goal line.
BU almost scored just over a minute later on a near carbon-copy of the first goal, except John Laliberte had the chance from the right-wing side. Laliberte had another great bid in the opening seconds of period two, but Quick stopped that one as well.
The Terriers had several more good chances in the period — most notably some great pressure by Ewing, Roche, and MacArthur around the three-minute mark and then another good try by Roche eight minutes later — but couldn’t extend their lead through two periods.
Finally — over 44 minutes after the first goal — BU got some breathing room at 5:50 of the third on a power-play goal that Cahoon referred to as “brilliant.” David Van der Gulik fed Laliberte in the right-wing faceoff circle. From a sharp angle, the senior winger didn’t have much of an opening, but he pinpointed a high shot into the corner, short side.
“Obviously the biggest goal of the game was Laliberte’s goal,” Parker said. “That was a great power-play goal. Van der Gulik made a great play to get it down, but the real play was that [Brad] Zancanaro showed a lot of poise to get control of it on the far side and make sure he had it settled down first, and then he went over to the other side.
“Laliberte had the goaltender anticipating a pass back to Zancanaro — by that time Zancanaro had got back to the crease — and he just had a great shot out of his shoulder.”
Playing four-on-four at 9:38, the Terriers extended the lead to 3-0, as Roche tucked in the rebound of a Sean Sullivan shot from the left point. BU had a number of good chances over the next several minutes before UMass took it to the Terriers in the game’s waning minutes.
With just 1:24 left and the goalie pulled on top of enjoying a man-advantage, the Minutemen foiled Curry’s shutout bid. After Matt Anderson took a shot from the left point, Chris Capraro collected it on the goal line near the far post and managed to sneak it in before a defenseman could push him away.
After Zancanaro hit a post on an empty-net attempt from the side of the net, MacArthur buried a shot from just inside the red line to make it 4-1 with 26.4 ticks remaining, sending the crowd of 3,531 at Agganis Arena home happy. BU drew 100, 248 fans this season in their first full campaign at the new arena.
“I think we stood up a little bit from yesterday,” Curry said. “It was sort of a slow game yesterday. They’re a tough team to play against: Their record doesn’t really speak for how good their team is, and they have some real talented forwards up front, so we knew it wasn’t going to be a blowout by any means; I was surprised that we won by so many goals last night. I was glad to get this series over with in two games; it wasn’t that easy.”
The Terriers (23-9-4) face New Hampshire in the 5 p.m. game at the TD Banknorth Garden on Friday, while the Minutemen (13-21-2) must look to next season.
“I’ve got a really good group of kids in that locker room,” Cahoon said. “There’s a lot of character. They play hard, and the game’s not a tilted game: There certainly were opportunities to convert, but we don’t execute around the goal as well as we need to and consequently that really hurts you in the long run.
“That’s been the recurring theme all year long for us. I think we can play any team in the country tough, but we have trouble capitalizing and scoring goals at opportune times.”