BOSTON — Coming into this weekend’s series against New Hampshire, Boston University senior Danny O’Regan was riding a three-game pointless streak — matching the longest of his career.
He broke out of it with a hat trick at UNH on Friday night and followed it up with another goal tonight to lead BU to a 3-2 win over the Wildcats in front of 5,882 at Agganis Arena.
“I was having trouble finding the net the last couple of weeks, so it was nice to get some chances on net and have a few go in for me,” O’Regan said. “It was a good weekend for me, but I wish we got four points instead of three [due to BU tying UNH 3-3 on Friday night.”
Matt Grzelcyk and Bobo Carpenter also scored for the Terriers, while Cameron Marks had his first goal of the season as well as an assist for UNH.
Playing his second straight game after watching teammate Sean Maguire start 13 straight games between the pipes going back to December, sophomore Connor LaCouvee made 18 saves for his first win since Dec, 3 against Vermont. LaCouvee got back into the lineup after Maguire suffered a finger injury during practice this week.
“It kind of sucked for a good portion of three weeks or so,” LaCouvee said of having to sit for so long after holding the No. 1 goalie role for the vast majority of the fall semester. “But then I was just, ‘Well, there’s no sense being a moody little kid; I might as well just work hard and support the team.’ ‘Mags’ is playing unreal, so I keep supporting him.
“You never want to come in and play when someone’s injured, but it was really nice to come in and get a couple of games there. I was shaky for the first bit, but it was awesome that we got three points — would’ve liked to get the fourth.”
It was really a tale of two games.
BU dominated the first 40 minutes, outshooting UNH 30-10 and outscoring the visitors 3-0 with the help of several penalties and a couple power-play goals. Then UNH stormed back with two goals and threatened to tie it with an extra attacker plus a man advantage for the final 72 seconds.
BU coach David Quinn took the blame for the game being much closer than it needed to be.
“The momentum changed dramatically when they made it 3-1, which is a little disappointing,” Quinn said. “You’d like to be able to continue to play to win. I told our guys I take a big responsibility for it because what went on between the second and third period in our approach and my approach put us in a mindset not to lose.
“You can’t do that; you’ve got to play win hockey games no matter what the score is. I wasn’t happy with myself because I put us in that mindset to let that happen.”
Meanwhile, one night after spotted BU a 2-0 lead before rallying for a 3-3 tie, UNH coach Dick Umile was frustrated to see his team go down 3-0 tonight before making a game of it.
“Falling behind 3-0 is not a good formula,” Umile said. “We didn’t get going until the third period. I give them credit for battling back in the third period, but we were 40 minutes too late getting going.”
After nearly going down a goal in the first six minutes when a bad turnover led to a shorthanded breakaway for Tyler Kelleher and a LaCouvee save, BU bounced right back with a power-play goal seconds later. Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson set up Grzelcyk on the left wing and then raced to the net. Grzelcyk seemed to be trying to hit Forsbacka Karlsson with a return pass toward the goal, but the puck appeared to just miss the centerman’s stick. Perhaps goalie Danny Tirone was expecting the redirect, as the puck bounced right past him.
At 13:03, BU made it 2-0. Playing his first game in months, freshman defenseman Shane Switzer got the puck at the right point and made a nice pass to O’Regan at the back door for a shot from the left-wing circle that caromed off of Tirone and in. It was Switzer’s first collegiate point.
LaCouvee needed to make a big save at 4:45 of the second period. UNH had muddled through an ineffectual power play before Matias Cleland caught the BU defense napping with a 60-foot pass that sprung Dan Correale for the breakaway, only to have LaCouvee come up with the stop.
BU seemed to seal it with a goal during the waning seconds of a power play at 13:43 of the second period. Carpenter nicely roofed a backhander off a rebound of Brandon Fortunato’s shot.
But then UNH stormed back in the third.
At 3:16, Ara Nazarian knocked in a rebound while falling down face first. Then, just over three minutes later, Shane Eiserman raced in on the left wing before dropping the puck to Marks trailing the play. The defenseman buried a high wrister and suddenly, UNH had all of the momentum. Both teams had some chances the rest of the way, but BU hung on for the win. Going into the final weekend of the season, the Terriers are tied with Massachusetts-Lowell for fourth place and the final first-round bye in the Hockey East playoffs.
“Happy to get three points on the weekend,” Quinn said. “At this time of the season, every point is valuable. I felt like we missed out on an opportunity to get two last night but took advantage of the opportunity tonight and got a valuable win — a little more gut-wrenching than we wanted it to be, but it doesn’t matter. I thought we played well overall from start to finish over the weekend.”