By: David Souza
HAMDEN, CONN. — With less than a minute remaining in overtime in No. 2 Boston University’s first road test of the year, they found themselves on the verge of drawing with the No. 14 Quinnipiac Bobcats. Playing from behind all day, the Terriers had tied the score twice and came inches away from going ahead several different times. Finally, just as the game seemed destined to end deadlocked, BU broke through with 41.1 seconds to go.
Sophomore Patrick Harper curled around the near face-off circle, before firing the puck to the doorstep of Quinnipiac’s Keith Petruzzelli. Freshman Shane Bowers directed the puck towards Petruzelli’s pad before poking the rebound through to give the Terriers a 3-2 victory.
“I threw a little fake, got their two players to bite, and had a little room,” said Harper of his setup. “Then, luckily Shane got open and I made a good read to him and we were able to capitalize.”
Harper’s homecoming was the story of the day as the New Canaan, Conn. native potted both of BU’s regulation goals, in addition to his helper on the game-winner.
The sophomore opened the scoring for the Terriers (2-0) just over three minutes into the second period, drawing BU even with the Bobcats (0-1-1) and cashing in on one of five power-play opportunities.
After an errant puck landed on the stick of Chad Krys, the sophomore defensemen snapped a shot on net that rebounded directly to Harper. With Quinnipiac net minder Keith Petruzzelli sprawled out in front of him, Harper stick handled patiently for a few seconds before slotting the puck into the back of the cage.
“[Freshman to sophomore year] is usually the biggest jump I think a player makes in college,” said Coach Dave Quinn of Harper’s growth. “Harp’s worked so hard away from the rink; he’s a little bit bigger and thicker. I think he’s playing at a better pace.”
Then, after the Bobcats had regained the lead, Harper struck again in the third. Less than one minute into the period, Harper took the puck from deep in his own defensive zone and skated up ice, weaving his way through a trio of Quinnipiac players. Skating in with two of his teammates driving on net, Harper tried to slide a pass across the mouth of the Quinnipiac goal, but his attempt redirected off of a Bobcat defenseman into the net.
“Honestly I think right now the puck is just finding its way into the net,” Harper said. “When you focus on playing the right way, usually offense takes care of itself, but overall there’s a lot to improve on.”
To make his impressive day even more important was the fact that Harper was playing less than an hour away from where he grew up in southern Connecticut. After the game, Harper was flocked by countless members of his friends and family, all of whom had made the trip to see him.
Before Harper’s pair of goals, the Bobcats found the back of the net midway through the first. Alex Whelan – who was taken off the ice by a trainer earlier in the period – returned with just under eight minutes remaining in the opening frame before finding twine.
The sophomore collected a misplayed puck in front of the Terrier bench and streaked down the right side of the BU zone to the top of the face-off circle. Whelan then pulled back and unleashed a wicked wrister that beat Jake Oettinger high blocker-side to put QU up, 1-0.
And while Oettinger stood tall in net for BU, Quinnipiac was able to best him twice, striking again midway through the second period.
Fresh off of a successful penalty kill, the Bobcats regained their one-goal lead with a low wrist shot from senior Bo Pieper. Classmate Landon Smith broke down the center of the BU zone before leaving the puck for Pieper, who fired a shot through traffic past a screened Oettinger.
The two goals were the only blemishes on Oettinger’s day, as the sophomore recorded 22 saves – including five in overtime. Petruzzelli, the freshman net minder for the Bobcats, opposed Oettinger, and was up to the task against one of the most touted goalies in the NCAA. Playing in his first collegiate game, Petruzzelli recorded 31 saves, and repeatedly denied the Terriers in their search for the go-ahead goal.
“They looked like two basketball players in net, that’s for sure. Two guys six-[foot]-five,” said Coach Quinn. “Two great goalies, two guys that have a great future ahead of them. Oett’s made some big saves when he had to, and their guy made some big saves when he had to.”
Playing against a hard-hitting ECAC team, the Terriers engaged in a physical battle all afternoon, racking up five penalties and seeing Quinnipiac go off seven times as well. In the third, BU opened the game up with their speed and began dictating the pace of play. Without any penalties called in the final frame, the Terriers were able to put pressure on the Quinnipiac zone for the majority of the third period; however, Petruzzelli’s play kept the teams tied heading into overtime.
The Bobcats started two former Terriers on Sunday, Brandon Fortunato and Kevin Duane. Coach Quinn and company were definitely made aware of both. Duane took three separate penalties in the first two periods, while Fortunato saw significant time on the ice in just his second game with Quinnipiac.
The Terriers will see another familiar face when they return home on Friday night to begin a two-game series with Minnesota State, the new home of goalie Connor Lacouvee.