BOSTON — The cheer swelled from Boston University’s fan section: “F—- Matt Ryan! F—- Matt Ryan!” Seconds later, Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson slid the puck past Joseph Woll into the net, lighting up the lamp and giving his fans something to cheer about besides Boston College’s highest-profile alum’s high-profile failure in Super Bowl LI.
It was an early goal for the Terriers, putting BC men’s hockey in a hole just minutes into the first period.
“Any time you get up 1-0, I think it really puts you at ease a little bit,” BU head coach David Quinn said after the game. “I thought we kind of built off that lead.”
The hole never went away for the Eagles. After 60 minutes of sometimes exciting, mostly agonizing hockey, the Terriers left TD Garden with a 3-1 victory, their first over BC in the Beanpot since 2008. Here are three takeaways from the game.
Polar Opposite Periods
The Eagles (18-10-2, 13-3-1 Hockey East) looked vastly different at various points in the game. They opened up play with a slow, messy first period, outperformed BU (19-7-2, 11-4-2) in the second period, and damaged their own comeback chances with an overly physical third.
BC came out looking flat-footed and, at times, just plain bad in the first period. It took almost 19 minutes for the Eagles to record a shot on goal—and during that stretch, the Terriers tested Woll time after time, with Forsbacka-Karlsson’s goal the only successful attempt in the game. At the end of the first period, BU had 12 shots on Woll, while the Eagles managed only two shots on Jake Oettinger, with one of them coming in the final 10 seconds of play.
The second period was a different story entirely. Although BC conceded two goals in the period, it looked like a much stronger team than in the first, and even outplayed the Terriers for most of the 20 minutes. Chad Krys scored for BU, cushioning the Terriers’ lead, minutes into the period. But soon after this goal, BC seemed to wake up and regain all the game’s momentum. Woll faced only three shots all period, compared to 11 shots in both the first and third periods of the game. The culmination of the improved play came with BC’s only goal of the game, courtesy of Austin Cangelosi.
Oettinger, who had been facing plenty more shots in the second period, blocked one but surrendered a rebound. Cangelosi, perfectly placed, knocked the rebound into the net to bring BC back into the game. The fans exploded with cheers as the Eagles celebrated. All of a sudden, even with the painfully slow start, it looked as though BC might turn it into a competitive game. But then Clayton Keller scored a shorthanded goal for the Terriers, taking the wind out of BC’s sails.
The Eagles might still have had a chance to come back in the third period, but shot themselves in the foot with penalties. BC played shorthanded for eight minutes in the period, with Luke McInnis and Colin White each taking a trip to the box and Matthew Gaudreau sitting twice. With so much time spent on the kill, the Eagles couldn’t mount an effective comeback effort. Although they avoided conceding another goal (Ryan Cloonan seemed to score at one point, but it was overturned), the Eagles did not allow themselves to pull off another thrilling comeback like the one against Notre Dame last month.
BC head coach Jerry York didn’t find fault with his team’s efforts killing power plays.
“I thought our penalty killing was very, very sharp tonight,” York said.
It’s true that the Eagles actually defended well on power plays. While one of BU’s goals came from power plays, BC prevented them from converting during five other opportunities. But while the Eagles may have killed penalties well, they didn’t perform well when on their own power play opportunities.
BC went 0-for-4 on power plays for the night. What’s more, the Eagles managed to get off just one shot on goal while having a one-man advantage. BU, meanwhile, tested Woll 11 times during its six power plays.
It didn’t help that BC actually negated its own power plays on several occasions. In the first period, Jordan Greenway was sent to the box for interference, providing BC with an excellent opportunity to record some shots on goal and test Oettinger. Less than a minute into the power play, however, Casey Fitzgerald was called for holding. He headed to the box and BC lost its advantage.
BC lost its advantage again in the third period. Kieffer Bellows headed to the box after being called for interference. Less than two minutes later, however, Gaudreau found himself in the penalty box after a tripping call. Once again, BC ended its power play prematurely by sending one of its own players to the box.
The pinnacle of the disappointing offensive output on power plays came in the second period, though, when Keller managed to knock in a shorthanded goal after a breakaway on Woll.
“The one shortie they got was just a really unusual play,” York said.
It may have been unusual—but unusual still counts, and Keller’s goal served as the final nail in the coffin for the Eagles.
BC scored its lone goal of the night off a rebound, but Cangelosi’s goal was not enough to carry the Eagles past the Terriers. Rebounds, however, may have been the key to victory had the Eagles been able to take advantage of them more often.
Oettinger was excellent against the Eagles. He finished with 22 saves, including 16 in the second period alone. While Oettinger did a great job of blocking the shots and protecting the net, he frequently surrendered rebounds.
With the exception of Cangelosi’s goal, BC failed to do any damage with the rebounds. Had the Eagles crowded the net to be ready for any possible rebounds, they might have been able to sneak the puck past Oettinger a few more times and escape with a victory. But BU managed to neutralize the threat of rebound goals and thus take away BC’s best chance at real damage.
Featured Image by Julia Hopkins / Heights Editor