Boston University completed a sweep of its season series with New Hampshire with a 2-1 win, driven by a dominating stretch early in the second period and Kieran Millan’s goaltending.
The sweep was the first by any team over UNH since the 1996-97 season, when BU also held the upper hand.
Wade Megan and Corey Trivino scored the Terriers’ two goals, both coming during the first eight minutes of the second period. In that stretch, BU held UNH without a shot while eventually taking 11 of the first 12 shots.
Chris Connolly recorded his 100th career point while assisting on Trivino’s game-winner.
In making 28 saves, Millan extended his season-long hex on the Wildcats. Over the three games, he stopped 96 of 98 shots.
The Terriers have now won six out of their last seven contests.
“Our team is getting to where they’re supposed to be from a thoroughness point of view and from a focus point of view,” BU coach Jack Parker said. “A lot of it has to do with our defense maturing, growing up a little bit. A lot of it has to do with getting real consistent goaltending.”
BU penalty killers shut out the Wildcat power play in all five opportunities. The power play scored in one of two chances.
“If you looked at the way we were in our first three or four games on special teams, it was like they should take the coach out back and give him a beating in front of his family,” Parker said. “Now we look like we know what we’re doing. And we’re benefiting from it. Especially the PK.”
As well as things have been going for BU of late, they’ve been going every bit as sour for UNH. The Wildcats have lost five of six with the only win coming over 1-15-1 Alabama-Huntsville.
“We’ve had moments in every game where in two or three minutes, the game has turned around on us,” UNH coach Dick Umile said. “Our concentration for two or three minutes in the second period [cost us tonight].”
Greg Burke, who scored the lone goal, acknowledged that this is a bad way to head into the holiday break but held out hope for a strong second half.
“It’s no secret that guys are frustrated,” he said. “We’ve got a competitive team and no one likes losing, but at the same time, we aren’t down. We have half a season to go and we know what we’ve got to do. It leaves a bitter taste in your mouth for the two weeks that we’ll have off, but we’ll also be hungry when we get back.”
With senior goaltender Matt Di Girolamo having a disappointing first half, Umile opted to give freshman Casey DeSmith, a New Hampshire native, his first start. The rookie played well and couldn’t be faulted on the two BU goals.
“I always wanted to come out of that tunnel and hear my name called in the starting lineup,” he said. “So it was definitely a dream come true, but I wish we’d pulled out the win.”
The first period went to UNH. The Wildcats took a 1-0 first-period lead, scoring the only goal of the period at 4:35. Damon Kipp shot from near the right boards and Millan gave up an uncharacteristic rebound into the low slot, where Burke roofed it in.
The period ended with BU owning an 11-9 shot advance but one that was more mirage than reality. Most of the Terrier shots came from the perimeter, compared to five grade A opportunities for the Wildcats, including Burke’s goal.
With a Terrier penalty whistled with four seconds remaining in the period, the second stanza looked promising for UNH. Instead, BU came out roaring, holding the Wildcats without a shot for over eight minutes and taking 11 of the first 12.
With BU on the power play less than five minutes in, UNH took off on a rush broken up by a key sliding stop by Alexx Privitera. The puck caromed off the freshman defenseman and with UNH caught up ice, Alex Chiasson and Megan took off two-on-one. The two exchanged passes and from the right side Chiasson attempted a deke and tuck in that Megan finished off.
Three minutes later, Sahir Gill fed the puck left-to-right in the slot to an uncovered Trivino, who buried it for his 11th goal.
Two BU penalties allowed UNH to get some territorial action back and finish the period down 16-11, but the decisive blows had been struck.
During a scoreless third period, BU minimized UNH’s opportunities, holding the Wildcats to a single grade A chance in their nine shots.