By Jarett Leonard
Following No. 2 Boston University’s loss to Minnesota State in the first game of a weekend series on Friday, Coach David Quinn was understandably disappointed.
Still, after a 3-0 shutout loss that completed the Maverick’s sweep of the Terriers’ on their home ice, Quinn was surprisingly optimistic about his team going forward.
“I thought we did a lot of the things tonight that we didn’t do last night,” Quinn said. “I’m encouraged by our work ethic and by how hard we played against a team that is incredibly well coached. We just played against a team that plays a man’s game.”
After allowing two power play goals in the first eight minutes of game one, Mavericks’ Coach Mike Hastings said the ability to weather another early storm was the key for his team on Saturday. That started with junior goaltender Jason Pawloski, who turned away 12 shots in the opening frame, including five over the course of three Terrier power plays.
“Tonight, I thought our goaltender was exceptional in the first period,” Hastings said. “To not be down at the end of the first period being in the box the way we were and then the possession time that they had in zone, I think he was difference maker tonight. He gave us a chance to collect our breath a little bit and we came back in the second period with zeros.”
Like Friday night, the second period was the downfall for the Terriers again in the series finale. With BU on the penalty kill after being caught with too many men on the ice, Minnesota State continued its success on the man advantage. Jake Jaremko’s rink-wide pass connected with Ian Scheid who put a wrist shot onto BU goaltender Jake Oettinger (25 saves). The sophomore made the initial save, but Nick Rivera was there on the backdoor for the Mavericks’ third power play goal of the series.
A Clint Lewis goal was later overturned due to goaltender interference by Rivera, but Minnesota State would eventually extend its lead to two. Oettinger denied two doorstep chances for Zeb Knutson, but C.J. Suess beat Ty Amonte to a loose puck in the crease for his first goal of the season. Marc Michaelis would seal the win with an empty net goal in the third period.
Quinn highlighted the need for BU to simplify its game heading into the rematch, but he said there was not enough improvement in that area Saturday. The Terriers’ slow breakouts combined with Minnesota State’s aggressive fore check and 14 blocked shots made for a lackluster night on the offensive end.
“We just have to do the things that we did when we did get chances and we did have zone time and do them more often,” Quinn said. “That’s the problem, we’re not doing them consistently enough, but we will.”
BU garnered 26 shots on net but could not beat Pawloski, who recorded his fourth career shutout. The Mavericks were efficient in shutting down shooting lanes and preventing second chance opportunities, and senior captain Brandon Hickey said the Terriers needed to generate more traffic in front of the opponents’ net.
“We have to shoot the puck when we have chances,” Hickey said. “You don’t need to shoot to score every time. You can shoot for a rebound or create some chaos down low and get the team turned around.”
For Minnesota State, the sweep of the nation’s second-ranked team and a non-conference opponent could be an important factor later in the year, even if it is only October. If the Mavericks do not earn an automatic bid in the NCAA Tournament by winning the WCHA, this weekend will certainly increase their chances come selection time in March.
“Our non-conference record last year as a league and ourselves personally, it can handcuff you at the end of the year,” Hastings said. “When you play another conference and you don’t succeed, it just makes that hill a little steeper to climb.”
On the other hand, Quinn and the Terriers will need to shake off the early-season sweep and look ahead to a home-and-home series with the University of Connecticut to open Hockey East play next weekend. BU will play host to UConn on Friday night at Agganis Arena before the teams travel to the XL Center in Hartford on Saturday.
“I’m very encouraged by our team,” Quinn said. “This team works hard, they come to the rink everyday with passion and enthusiasm. I know a lot of those guys are frustrated right now, but we’ll come back here on Monday, start getting better and we’ll get ready for our league opener on Friday night.”