BOSTON — In a game that featured more reviews than the arts section of a Sunday newspaper, the final outcome was thumbs up for Boston University and thumbs down for Michigan.
Although the officiating threatened to overshadow a thrilling battle between two ranked teams loaded with young talent, BU rallied with two third-period goals for a stirring come-from-behind 3-2 victory in front of a boisterous crowd of 5,846 at Agganis Arena.
Top NHL prospect Jack Eichel scored the equalizer by deftly redirecting a Doyle Somerby shot out of midair and into the net.
Then with 3:10 remaining, Matt Lane redirected a Brandon Hickey shot for what proved to be the game-winner. Both goals stood after lengthy video reviews, unlike Michigan’s second-period goal by Sam Piazza that was waved off due to a man in the crease.
“I knew it would be a good game,” Michigan coach Red Berenson said. “They’re a young team, a skilled team, a fast team, and we knew that coming in. It’s disappointing when the outcome of the game comes down to the referees sitting in the penalty box looking at a monitor to decide whether the goals were in.
“Of the five goals that were scored, I think all five of them were disputed goals or reviewed goals, and one that was called off on us. So I don’t know how we ever played hockey without the review, but the referees shouldn’t be the goal judges.”
It was pointed out that both of BU’s third-period goals would have stood if there were no video review system at all, as they both had been called goals on the ice. But Berenson apparently was just frustrated by the fact that the game featured so many crucial goals that were debatable.
“You’d like it to be more clear cut; the goals were in, or they weren’t in,” Berenson said. “You feel victimized by the review system.”
Given that Boston University coach David Quinn seemed to be questioning referees Jeff Bunyon and Dave Hansen about penalty calls more than he has in any game thus far in his one year-plus as BU’s head coach, one couldn’t expect him to be too sympathetic.
“First, what a hockey game,” Quinn said. “People got their money’s worth tonight, that’s for sure. To pull it together the way we did. After the second period, we looked like we just had our dog shot.
“That’s a big, big win for us – a feel-good win. And when you can win every third period as we’ve done this year, that’s a good sign.”
As for all of the video reviews, Quinn said, “They went to the review system and they were called goals, and that’s why you have the review system in place. I wish we had five power plays [like Michigan did, given that BU only had two power plays], but that’s a whole other story.”
The story early on was plenty of high-tempo hockey with no shortage of scoring opportunities and big saves. BU had the better of the chances early on, but despite getting outshot 8-2 in the first six minutes, Michigan struck first on a power play.
Boo Nieves set up Zach Werenski at the point, and his shot went through traffic and found the net.
It could have easily been a 2-2 or 3-3 game in just the first period, but Wolverines’ goalie Zach Nagelvoort and BU goalie Matt O’Connor (38 saves) stood tall and kept it a tight 1-0 game.
For the second night in a row, BU scored in the first minute of the second period. Danny O’Regan drove toward the net on Nagelvoort’s stick side, only to have the goalie poke check the puck away. But the puck went right onto the stick of Ahti Oksanen, who one-timed it home for a 1-1 tie – only confirmed after another lengthy video review due to a possible crease violation.
Nagelvoort finished with 31 saves.
Michigan got a real boost from their second power-play goal at 8:33 of the second. Dylan Larkin set up Alex Kile in the slot for a nifty top-shelf backhander. Eight minutes later, Michigan almost made it 3-1 when Zach Hyman jumped off the bench and went in on a breakaway, only to hit a post.
BU ended the period fuming when Lane almost stuffed the puck into the Michigan net, only to get pummeled by a few Michigan defenders for his trouble. A big tussle ensued, and it looked like it might end up with either a Terrier power play or matching minors.
Instead, it was matching minors, plus a penalty on Lane.
“I’m baffled about what happened,” Quinn said.
Ironically, the resulting penalty kill early in the third gave BU a lift, and the Terriers were rewarded with Eichel’s goal. It was a case of making something out of not much, as Eichel redirected a soft floating shot from Somerby.
But Michigan captain Andrew Copp wasn’t all that impressed tonight with Eichel, who is expected to be the first or second pick in the NHL Draft in June.
“Jack Eichel, for all he is, and he is a great player, he didn’t really do much,” Copp said. “He had that one tip-in goal from the corner, and they had that weird bounce goal.”
That weird bounce came in the last three minutes on the heels of some terrific pressure by the Terriers. Starting at the 16-minute mark, BU started putting it on, as Cason Hohmann, Robbie Baillargeon and Nick Roberto all had shots on net. BU managed to change lines amidst the onslaught, and that may have given them an energy edge as well as the goal by Lane.
“I don’t even really know what happened on the whole shift,” Lane said. “I just remember Bert [Roberto] made a nice pass to Hickey up at the point, and then all week we’ve just been working on getting in front of the net. So I planted myself in front of the net, got a stick on it – pretty sure it was below the crossbar, so that was good.”
That sealed the scoring and the BU win.
“I think we felt we deserved more out of tonight’s game,” Copp said. “We can beat any team in the country, and I think we showed that tonight. I think we dictated the pace a lot more than you guys think we did.”
“We’re a work in progress still,” Quinn said. It’s nice to be winning hockey games when you think you’re going to get better, and you think your best hockey is ahead of you.”
No. 12 BU (3-0-0) plays a home-and-home series against Providence next weekend while No. 14 Michigan (2-3-0) plays a pair of road games at Michigan Tech.