It was all BU all night, as the no. 8 Boston University Terriers rolled past Merrimack, 4-1, despite over 80 shot attempts from the Warriors. Senior captain and Florida Panthers draft pick Wade Megan led the team with two points, scoring the first goal short-handed and unassisted to set the tone for the Terriers early.
In a fast-paced game, Merrimack and BU traded shots all through the first period, with both teams having solid scoring chances. More than once, it appeared Merrimack would get on the board, including one shot that slipped through the legs of BU freshman goaltender Sean Maguire. An excited Merrimack crowd behind him roared as they saw the puck get free, and Maguire somehow found it behind him and covered it up before it could cross the red line.
That was the theme of the night, as Maguire made a few great saves, Merrimack missed a few great opportunities, and BU defenders blocked 29 shots.
“I thought they did a very good job of taking advantage of their opportunities and they make it very hard to get to the net,” summed up Merrimack coach Mark Dennehy.
BU’s second line of defensemen with senior Sean Escobedo and sophomore Alexx Privitera played particularly well, Privitera blocking nine shots himself and picking up an assist on the game-winner to junior Sahir Gill just 3:51 into the second.
“If he isn’t leading the way, his partner must be,” BU coach Jack Parker noted of Privitera’s defensive efforts tonight. “They really helped us.”
BU added another goal in the second from sophomore Cason Hohmann, who slipped one between Merrimack sophomore goaltender Rasmus Tirronen’s legs at 14:29 to make it 3-0 on assists from Megan and junior assistant captain Garrett Noonan.
In the third period, Merrimack seemed to come out with a fire, completely controlling the first seven minutes of action in the period. However, BU junior Matt Nieto killed all momentum when he netted BU’s fourth goal of the night from sophomore Evan Rodrigues and freshman Danny O’Regan with 9:37 remaining in the game.
Not to be denied, Merrimack senior Kyle Bigos tried to take over. Shortly after the final goal, he picked a pass in the neutral zone, skated through defenders over the blue line and ripped a shot on net, narrowly saved by Maguire. Earlier in the game, Bigos had broken Merrimack’s all-time penalty minutes record with a slashing call that put him at 401 penalty minutes for his career.
Determined to change the game, Bigos let another hard shot from freshman John Gustafsson and sophomore Quinn Gould sail off his stick, this one shooting past Maguire to find the back of the net.
Minutes later, Bigos and BU freshman winger Sam Kurker fought, earning Bigos a minor and both a game misconduct. The additional 12 penalty minutes for Bigos gave him 415 total and broke the all-time Hockey East record of 406 by Northeastern’s Rico Rossi.
“I thought we had plenty of chances,” lamented a disappointed Dennehy. “I just didn’t get the sense that we were ready for them. We need to work harder.”
For BU, this was an important game following their meltdown loss Wednesday vs. Harvard, when three third period goals and a fourth in OT led Harvard to a dramatic victory.
“We played the right way tonight,” said Parker. “We played hard, we played competitive…this was a huge win for us in a lot of ways.”