Boston University bounced back from a Vermont sweep with a win on Tuesday, but it wasnâ€™t exactly a stirring victory.
Playing Holy Cross for the first time since Terrier coach Jack Parker was a few months shy of his third birthday, No. 8 BU eked out a cliffhanger over the tenacious Crusaders. Colin Wilson scored what proved to be the game-winning goal and an added an assist to lead the Terriers to a 3-2 victory over their first Atlantic Hockey opponent since the league was formed in 2003. Jordan Cyr had a goal and a helper while Adam Roy made 25 saves in a losing effort for Holy Cross before a crowd of 4,710.
â€œI liked my team for a while until we got up 2-0, and then we started playing like it was going to be 7-0 while Holy Cross just kept competing,â€ Parker said. â€œThen we tried to give the game away at the end of the game.
â€œIn general, with the exception of a few guys, it was a pathetic performance by my team. Youâ€™ve got to give Holy Cross credit for coming in and playing hard and saying â€˜Holy Jesus! This is BU? We can more than play with these guys.â€™ And they did.â€
Meanwhile, Holy Cross coach Paul Pearl had to be pleased with his young teamâ€™s showing despite the loss.
â€œYou come on the road to Boston University, and you say, â€˜Okay, youâ€™re going to get a power play with 40 seconds left, and youâ€™re going to be down a goal,â€™ youâ€™ll take that because youâ€™re going to get your six best out there,â€ Pearl said. â€œWe got a shot and a rebound. Thatâ€™s about all you can hope for.â€
Before the game, Parker made Nick Bonino, the teamâ€™s second leading scorer, a healthy scratch. â€œHe hasnâ€™t been playing well for a while, not just the last game.â€ Before the night was over, David Warsofsky had spent a chunk of time on the sidelines. â€œHe was too all over the place.â€ Kevin Shattenkirk and Colby Cohen also were forced to sit for long stretches as well.
In the early going, BU was clearly the better team, but it wasnâ€™t as if they were running Holy Cross out of the building. The Terriers had all of the early shots but none of the grade â€˜Aâ€™ variety.
When Holy Cross finally got a shot at 6:10, it very nearly went in the net. Terrier freshman goalie Grant Rollheiser went behind his net to fetch the puck, but it went right over his stick and ended up rolling over to Crusader left wing Jay Sylvia in the corner. Sylvia threw a quick pass toward the crease to Ryan Driscoll, who almost converted it as Rollheiser struggled to get back between the pipes. The goalie got a piece of the puck, but it rolled perilously close to the goal line before BU centerman Chris Connolly carried it out of harmâ€™s way.
Crusader goalie Adam Roy also came close to paying for a case of wanderlustâ€”twice, in fact. At the ten-minute mark, he fell down behind the net when a dumped-in puck unexpectedly caromed out into the slot. Then, while on a power play at 14:10, Holy Cross came close to an own goal when another puck kicked out from behind the goal line and right off the post with Roy far afield along the boards.
The disparity between the two teams was most obvious when the top Terrier line of Wilson, Chris Higgins, and Jason Lawrence was on the ice. At times the trio peppered Roy with shots, but they couldnâ€™t light the lamp.
BU finally got the lead on a power play early in the second period. From the right-wing side, Connolly pushed the puck out to Matt Gilroy at the right point before the Terrier co-captain teed up a Brandon Yip slapshot at the left point. The shot went through traffic and in for the overdue lead.
The Terriers made it 2-0 on a nice give-and-go play by Shattenkirk and Zach Cohen. With both players breaking in on the left-wing side, Shattenkirk slipped it ahead to Cohen, who swooped around the net for the wraparound goal.
Three minutes later, Colby Cohen made about the longest legal pass possible, sending the puck from his own goal line to Vinny Saponari going over the opposing blue line for the breakaway, only to have to Roy stone the freshman with the stick-side save
Still, Rolheiser appeared to be fighting the puck a bit, and it finally led to a Crusader goal. Around the 15-minute mark, Holy Cross had two or three shots in a row, and Rollheiser couldnâ€™t get the handle or clear it. â€œWe did a pretty good job on the forecheck,â€ Cyr said of the play. â€œThey coughed the puck up that bounced right onto my stick on the slot. I threw one on net through a screen. The goalie made a pretty good save, but it trickled through his legs. I just followed the puck to the net and put a whack on it to put it by him.
After a series of penalties in the third period, BU ended up with a four-on-three advantage. After a few chances, the Terriers worked it quickly around the Holy Cross defense for a shot and a goal. Higgins passed the puck from Royâ€™s stick side out to Gilroy at the point, and Gilroy fed it around to Wilson in the right-wing faceoff circle for the quick shot and goal at 9:25 .
Just 23 seconds later, the Crusaders stunned the Terriers by getting the goal right backâ€”shorthanded, no less. Cyr got the puck behind the BU goal line and set up Everett Sheen in the slot for the one-timer to make it 3-2.
Holy Cross had one last rush and got off a solid shot, but BU fans couldnâ€™t exhale until the final buzzer. â€œI donâ€™t want to say weâ€™re youngâ€”thatâ€™s an excuseâ€”but we do have a lot of freshmen and sophomores,â€ Pearl said. â€œTheyâ€™re all kind of feeling their way through college hockey. Weâ€™ve been getting better every week. Our record right now isnâ€™t showing it, but if we keep working the way we have, we can play with teams and hopefully win some of these.â€
Parker is concerned about his teamâ€™s psyche. â€œI think we fell into a trap of thinking we were better than we were and now weâ€™re in the trap of worrying about if weâ€™re as good as we ever were or as good as we can be,â€ he said. â€œWeâ€™re so far away from where we were the first five or six game in terms of decision making and effort and skating. I thought Holy Cross looked quicker than we did. Weâ€™re at the point where weâ€™re not sure if weâ€™re any good at all.â€
The Terriers (8-4-0) host St. Lawrence on Saturday, while the Crusaders (3-8-1) play a home-and-home with Sacred Heart this weekend.