BOSTON — Even though he was voted the No. 1 star of the game, you have to feel a little sorry for Boston University goaltender Sean Maguire.
Despite making 27 saves in a 4-0 victory for the Terriers, including a few huge ones in a game that was tight until the final eight minutes, the senior was not credited with a shutout or even with the win.
Just 77 seconds into the game, Maguire’s left skate blade popped out, and he had to be replaced by sophomore Connor LaCouvee between the pipes until he got his equipment back in order. Just before he reentered the game, Robbie Baillargeon scored the first goal of the night, and it stood up as the game winner in front of 4,690 at Agganis Arena.
That meant LaCouvee picked up the win for making one save in less than six minutes of action.
“We were actually joking about that,” BU coach David Quinn said. “I realized it when we were walking around shaking hands. Connor got dealt a bad hand a couple of times last year. We put him in at New Hampshire when were down 3-0, and they scored right away to make it 4-0. Then we scored three goals to make it 4-3, and he got a loss. That happened a couple of times last year.”
“I’ve never seen that,” BU goalie coach Mike Geragosian said of LaCouvee’s easy win. “I’ve never seen a goalie lose a blade in the middle of game and not have a whistle either. Today, the blades are interchangeable on the new skates, so you can lose a blade now.”
Although Maguire’s fate was unfortunate, it was generally another solid night for the Terriers, who are now 5-1-1 in their last seven games.
“Good win by our guys,” Quinn said. “I thought we played hard against a very tough team to play against. We’re certainly all aware of the struggles they’re having right now from a win-loss standpoint, but they make you earn it. They’re frustrating to play against because they defend so hard and do a great job of clogging the middle.”
With the crucial exception of a shorthanded goal by Danny O’Regan on a great individual effort, special teams were one blemish on an otherwise strong performance by BU. They had to kill off six penalties, and they generated only four shots total and no real scoring chances on four power plays.
Meanwhile, Merrimack coach Mark Dennehy was left to mull his team’s tenth straight loss despite playing a good game on the road and failing to get a bounce on two or three dangerous scrambles around the BU net.
“I thought we played well for decent stretches of the game,” Dennehy said. “You come to play a good team like Boston University at their rink, and you need to get a bounce or two. I thought we had some opportunities, but didn’t get those bounces.
“We continued to play hard. They capitalized on their chances and that was the difference in the game.
With Maguire waiting in the wings to get back in the net, BU scored first at 7:06 on a nice sequence of passes. Charlie McAvoy passed from the point to Matt Lane in the slot, and the centerman set up Baillargeon in the left-wing circle for a low shot that beat Merrimack goalie Collin Delia.
Merrimack had a very good second period, outshooting BU 12-8 mainly due to a 4-1 advantage in power plays in the period, but O’Regan’s shorthanded goal was the only tally of the period. The senior right wing stole puck in the neutral zone, fought off a few defenders to break in on Delia, and then froze the goalie with a glove-side wrist shot.
“It was a key goal,” Quinn said. “It’s 1-0, and you could sense our guys getting frustrated. Penalties were taking our guys out of their rhythm. To get a shorthanded goal there really gave us some breathing room, and we stopped grabbing the sticks a little tighter. It was a big goal; he really stepped up tonight.”
BU regained the upper hand in chances in the third period, enjoying at least three quality chances before making it 3-0 at 11:57. Brien Diffley made a long cross-ice pass from his own end into the neutral zone, where Jordan Greenway tipped it to Lane. The senior raced in for a shot that Delia stopped, only to have Lane go around the net and backhand home the rebound for his 14th goal of the season. Lane led all scorers with three points tonight.
After Dennehy pulled his goaltender, BU captain Matt Grzelcyk had an empty net to shoot at twice, but clearly wanted a teammate to score, so he passed up the goal and instead set up senior Ahti Oksanen for his 50th collegiate goal.
While Merrimack hope to end its losing streak in its first-ever game against Arizona State on Sunday, BU now set its sights on Northeastern in the Beanpot on Monday night.