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Neither snow nor wind nor cold nor gloom of night stays these Terriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.
In the first-ever Battle of Brookline Ave., archrivals Boston College and Boston University met at Fenway Park for the first time in their storied history. In a venue that offered the largest snow globe imaginable, BU beat No. 7 BC 3-2 in front of a crowd of 38,472, the highest attendance ever for a college hockey game east of Michigan.
Kieran Millan led the way with a 29-save effort between the pipes for the Terriers, who also received a goal from David Warsofsky — just three days after he helped Team USA to a gold medal in the World Junior Championships. Brian Gibbons had a goal and an assist in a losing effort for the Eagles.
More than anything, though, it was a magical night in New England’s most sacred sports setting.
“It’s something we’ll all remember as long as we live,” Terriers’ coach Jack Parker said. “I thought we were kind of quiet in the dressing room between periods; I don’t know what that was all about. But I thought we played a very solid game from start to finish when we got out there. It was one of our better games in terms of being smart with the puck — not too many turnovers.”
BC coach Jerry York was less pleased with his club’s effort.
“Clearly we were two different teams; I thought the first half of the game, we were back on our heels and playing like we were scared to death to lose the game. We were just letting BU dictate the game.
“Then it gets to be 3-0 and all of a sudden it seemed to me our team said, ‘Hey, we’ve got nothing to lose now. Let’s start playing hockey. As poorly as we played through the first stages of the game, I thought we were as strong as we’ve been all year in the latter stages of the game.”
There was plenty to interest the capacity crowd even before the game began. Both teams unveiled special jerseys to the event. At Wednesday’s press conference, BC had unveiled their pale yellow jerseys with the letters ‘BC’ intertwined with an Eagle. In contrast, BU had been hush-hush about their jersey, so it was quite a sight when the team took the ice for their warm-ups. The BU jersey merged the typical scarlet Terriers’ jersey with the classic home jersey of the Red Sox. The word ‘Boston’ on the front featured the font of the Red Sox jerseys, and the shoulders featured the ubiquitous pair of Red Sox.
As the game began, swirling flurries danced under the bright stadium lights. The Terriers had the early territorial edge, with winger Joe Pereira getting the best early chance on a partial breakaway at 5:09. BC goalie John Muse stopped him, but Pereira drew a penalty on Tommy Cross — cross-checking, appropriately enough — that led to a Terriers’ power play and the first goal of the night.
At 6:08, BU defenseman Warsofsky — just back from the World Junior Championships in Sasketchwan on Wednesday — took a slap shot from the left point. The puck appeared to carom off the inside of Muse’s right leg before trickling into the goal. Celebrating, Warsofsky swung his stick baseball-style, as if he were David “Big Papi” Ortiz swatting a dinger around Pesky’s Pole.
“I have to give some credit to [third-string goalie] Adam Kraus,” Warsofksy said of his reaction. “He came up with it before the game, and I figured if I scored I’d go with it. I don’t know if the coaches liked it.”
“I didn’t see it,” retorted Parker.
“Hopefully he doesn’t see it on film either,” Warsofsky said, giving the media a good laugh.
In turn, BC went on the power play twice in the period, but struggled to muster sustained pressure. On the whole, BU had the better of the first 20 minutes. This seemed to coincide with the teams’ different perceptions about the playing conditions. â€œI think in these conditions — the outdoor ice, the wind, the snow — if we had to do it over again, weâ€™d just think about shooting pucks and try not to make many passes [on the power play]” York said. “If you were a football team, this would be more of a running game late in the season.â€
“I was really concerned about the ice before the game started,” Parker said. “The NHL people told me don’t worry about it, and I thought that the ice was terrific. I thought that the ice was so much better tonight than it was at any other time we skated here. The only thing that was troublesome was that there was a little more snow than we were used to, but I don’t think it was rough.”
That trend continued for much of the second stanza. At 2:26, BU made it 2-0 when Colby Cohen’s left-point slap shot caromed off the boards to Pereira, who banked a sharp-angle shot off of Muse’s pad and in.
Within 15 seconds of the goal, though, two Terriers were in the penalty box, and the Eagles had a five-on-three power play for almost two full minutes. However, if opportunity knocked for BC, BU slammed the door on it. BC possessed the puck, but only managed one shot on goal during the man advantage.
BC survived one great Terriers’ bid at 9:54 when Muse stopped a Corey Trivino one-timer after Ross Gaudet set him up in front of the net, but within a minute BU took a 3-0 lead. On a delayed penalty, freshman Wade Megan took a shot from the right-wing circle, then hustled after his rebound at the edge of the crease, popping it up and over Muse.
The forecast appeared to see the Eagles’ chances dropping along with the temperature, but they finally scored on a power play at 18:19 of the period. Paul Carey drove in on the right wing for a shot that Millan stopped, only to have BC centerman Gibbons knock in the rebound to make it 3-1 going into the second intermission.
In the third, BC did little on two power plays, then scored just 14 seconds into their first short-handed situation of the period. From the right wing, Gibbons crossed the puck on his second attempt, and Cam Atkinson knocked it past Millan on the doorstep.
At 12:40, Pat Mullane had an amazing chance for BC with Millan down after an initial shot, but it appeared that a BU defender blocked his rebound bid from 18 feet. Clearly, though, all of the momentum was with the Eagles.
“This was more of a grinder game, and it took us a while to figure that out,” Eagles’ captain Matt Price said. “We showed toward the later stages of the game that when we played simple and worked hard, we were able to have some success.”
BU settled things down for several minutes but then had to withstand a wild scramble with three minutes left, culminating in a Millan save on Brian Dumoulin’s slap shot.
A Brian Gibbons hooking penalty with just 2:14 remaining let BU breathe somewhat easier, but not for long. Although short-handed, BC continued to press until the final buzzer.
BC (10-6-2, 7-4-2 Hockey East) next plays at Harvard on Wednesday, while BU (6-9-3, 4-7-2) visits Providence on Friday before hosting Merrimack the next night.