What a difference a year makes.
At this point last season, Boston University was 0-4-1. Despite playing ranked opponents in four of their first five games, the no. 6 Terriers are 4-1-0 so far this season.
Fourth-ranked Michigan was Saturday’s victim, as BU scored a whopping five power-play goals en route to a 7-2 win that felt like a real statement for the home team in front of 6,400 at Agganis Arena.
Colin Wilson led the way with three assists, while linemate Jason Lawrence scored twice. Nick Bonino and Chris Connolly chipped in a goal and a helper apiece for the Terriers, while Robbie Czarnik and Louie Caporusso scored for the Wolverines.
“The first thing that jumps into my mind is we were happy with our special teams tonight, and we were very happy with our goaltender [Kieran Millan] tonight.,” Terrier coach Jack Parker said.
“I thought especially in the first period he had to make some tough saves and played very cool, calm, and collected. A bunch of guys played well. I thought Colin Wilson looked like an NHLer out there today, boy … But the best part of our game was how we killed penalties.”
“I thought we came out and competed hard at the start of the game,” Michigan coach Red Berenson said. “But the first goal obviously was a big goal. That wasn’t a great scoring chance, but it was a bad rebound. The next goal was at the end of a power play; we turned the puck over.
“After that, their power play took over the game. I can’t fault the refereeing; I can fault our penalty killing. And the game wasn’t just special teams: They were the better team, and they proved that as the game wore on.”
It didn’t look like it would be a rout in the early game, as the teams went toe to toe for much of the first period. BU had a good-looking power play minutes in, but then Greg Pateryn had an excellent chance to give Michigan the lead at 7:00, only to have Millan come up with the big save. Joe Pereira had an exciting chance for BU as a Wolverine power play expired at 11:00 , but then Michigan ‘s Brian Lebler almost scored again when the Terriers botched the puckhandling behind their own net a few minutes later.
Finally BU took the lead at 15:01 when Kevin Gilroy, younger brother of Terrier co-captain Matt Gilroy, backhanded home a fat rebound of a Nick Bonino shot from the left-wing side. It was the freshmen’s first collegiate goal in just his second career game; a knee sprain to Corey Trivino factored into Gilroy playing on the second line tonight.
Michigan very nearly evened it up within 35 seconds, but Millan made a great kick save on Carl Hagelin. Michigan survived a five-on-three later in the period, but BU made it 2-0 before the second penalty expired. UM defenseman Eric Elmblad appeared to have the puck in front of him behind the goal line, but Terrier frosh Chris Connolly swooped around the net, stole the puck, and tucked it in past senior netminder Billy Sauer. It was Connolly’s first collegiate goal as well.
If the 2-0 score in the first period was somewhat deceptive, the identical score for period two was more indicative of BU’s dominance. The Terriers had the best of the chances by far and made it 3-0 at 6:52 . Colin Wilson made a great rush up the left-wing side before a quick succession of passes to Chris Higgins, back to Wilson, and over to Lawrence for the finisher.
“I can’t fault our goalies,” Berenson said. “A lot of their goals were tic-tac-toe plays. Our goalie would’ve absolutely had to stand on his head to make a difference on some of those shots.”
BU made it 4-0 at 17:20 on a textbook four-on-three goal. D-men Colby Cohen and Kevin Shattenkirk worked it at the points before the latter slipped it down to Wilson on the goal line. Wilson fed it to Cohen sneaking high into the slot, and the sophomore buried a high wrister glove side.
A Michigan goal early in the third gave the Wolverines a glimmer of hope. Robbie Czarnik fired a perfect wrister just inside the post on the glove side to make it 4-1. Less than five minutes later, though, Kevin Shattenkirk walked in from the left point on yet another power play and hit Lawrence at the far post for another easy one.
“I thought that we were moving the puck well tonight,” Lawrence said. “I think the guys are really starting to mesh a little bit, and I got two great passes. Anybody could’ve put those in; those were tap-in goals.”
“Before I think we were three for 30, so we’ve been doing a lot of power play in practice,” Wilson said. “Coach has been bringing us out beforehand. The problem before was that we were holding on to it. This time we were doing a lot of releases and tic-tac-toe plays like Red said, so it just ended up clicking tonight.”
BU missed another power-play goal when they scored two seconds after another penalty expired. This one was quite similar to the previous goal, with David Warsofsky selling the shot before firing a pass from the left point to Nick Bonino at the far post for the goal.
After Shattenkirk broke his stick while attempting to kill a four-on-three, Michigan patiently exploited the situation, working the puck around the perimeter before Caporusso scored. Brian Strait rounded out the scoring with the Terrier’s fifth power-play goal.
Almost inevitably given the score and some jawing that had taken place earlier, tempers flared in the game’s last minute, and an out-and-out brawl ensued. The upshot is that Wolverine Brian Lebler and Terrier Vinny Saponari will be sitting out the next game for their teams.
“It’s a disappointing game for our team, but it’s a wake-up call,” Berenson said. “We realize how much better BU is right now than we are.”
Michigan ( 4-2-0 ) will set their sights on hosting Ohio State twice next weekend, while BU ( 4-1-0 ) travels to Vermont for one game on Saturday night.