It’s been a strange and trying last week or two for the best two teams in Hockey East.
Not that long ago, it looked like Boston College and Boston University had all about wrapped up the top two seeds in Hockey East. Since then, the Eagles and Terriers have hit some bumps in the road.
For the first time since 1993, both teams were losers on the night of the Beanpot Championship, as BU lost to Harvard in the title game while BC lost to Northeastern in the consolation matchup. An Eagles or Terriers team had won the Beanpot for 24 years straight, and BC coach Jerry York had never finished last in a Beanpot. The Monday loss also extended BC’s losing skid to three games and BU’s to two games.
So what happened tonight? Well, things got a little better on both ends of Commonwealth Avenue, but both teams continued their winless streaks. BC had a three-goal lead against Vermont but had to settle for a 3-3 tie, while BU dug two different two-goal holes before rallying for a 4-4 tie. BU sophomore Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson got the game-tying goal with 4:24 left and added two assists for the Terriers.
BC is now 4-5-1 in its last 10 games, while BU is 3-4-1 in its last eight games.
“This is a funny game,” BU coach David Quinn said. “These guys are kids and teenagers, and their psyche is fragile right now. The first goal goes in and poof! All of a sudden we look someone shot our dog — the body language, the lack of enthusiasm, the lack of passion was evident. We looked like a team trying to find its way.”
It was an improbable night in many ways for the Terriers, as Quinn shook up the lineup on the heels of Monday’s dispiriting loss to Harvard. Senior captain Doyle Somerby played his first collegiate game at forward, playing left wing on the fourth line. Defensemen Shane Switzer and Brien Diffley manned the blue line for the first time in a while. Perennial center Clayton Keller was moved to the left wing on the top line, and many other forward found themselves in usual spots.
Another oddity tonight was the first collegiate goal by UNH junior defenseman Dylan Chanter, who was playing in his 41st game. That was a goal that made it 3-2 UNH, and a goal by Tyler Kelleher in the final minute of the second period threatened to crush BU’s morale for good. So the tie may give the team some needed momentum.
“Just really proud of our team,” Quinn said. “We’re obviously not feeling great about ourselves and we’re in a little bit of a rut, but to recover after the first period we had and play the way we did says an awful lot about our mental toughness and our resiliency and our togetherness because things were bleak after the first period.
“It seemed that what happened Monday night was carrying over, and there wasn’t a lot of passion and enthusiasm, but in the second period we really started playing well. Then we gave up two goals that just looked too easy, but to come out with the grit and the fight and the determination we had in the third period …. really, really proud of our team. We’ve got a lot of fight left in us.”
Hockey East roundup
No. 11 Boston College 3, No. 16 Vermont 3
Less than 11 minutes into play, it looked like the rout was on for Boston College. The Eagles got off to a 3-0 lead thanks to even-strength goals by Ryan Fitzgerald, Austin Cangelosi, and David Cotton. However, the Catamounts responded to the third goal with a tally by Rob Hamilton just 56 seconds later. Vermont weathered a 12-4 BC shot advantage in the second period and was rewarded with two third-period goals to tie it up. Brian Bowen made it 3-2 before Hamilton got his second of the night with just 3:23 remaining at Chestnut Hill.
Merrimack 4, Maine 3 (OT)
It was a night of comebacks in Hockey East, as Merrimack spotted Maine a 3-0 lead before going on a tear with three goals in the second period and third period. The game stayed that way until there was just 1:21 remaining in overtime, when Jace Hennig thrilled the home crowd with the game-winner. Hennig added an assist for the Warriors, who also received a pair of assists from Chris LeBlanc. Chase Pearson was the star of the night for the Black Bears with a goal and two assists.
Northeastern 3, at Connecticut 0
In a matchup of Huskies versus Huskies, Northeastern proved to be top dog tonight, outscoring UConn by a 3-0 margin while outshooting them 33-20. Former BU Terrier Sam Kurker had only scored one goal in 20 games coming into tonight, but he had two goals tonight to lead the way for the visitors. Northeastern goalie Ryan Ruck had his first shutout of the season and the third of his collegiate career.
No. 15 Notre Dame 4, No. Providence 1
The Fighting Irish won their third game in a row with a 4-1 win over Providence and are now tied with BU for second place in Hockey East, as both teams have an 11-5-3 record in league play. Fighting Irish forward Anders Bjork scored twice, once short-handed and once on a power play, and is tied for ninth in the nation in goals scored. Cal Peterson made 31 saves in his 18th win of the season. The junior now has 50 wins as a collegian and is closing in on Jordan Pearce’s program record of 59.