By: David Souza
HARTFORD, CONN. — Entering Saturday evening’s contest with the UConn Huskies, the No. 7 Boston University Terriers were in search of their first win in almost two weeks, after falling twice to Minnesota State and drawing the same Huskies a night earlier. Despite three games without a win, the Terriers roared out of the gate, scoring two quick goals en route to a 6-3 win over Connecticut.
“One of the things I thought we did a much better job of tonight was playing real man’s hockey,” said Head Coach Dave Quinn. “There was too much B.S. in our game leading into this weekend, too much cuteness. I thought tonight, we were much more methodical, [we] took what was given to us [and] we weren’t forcing as many plays.”
It took the Terriers (3-2-1, 1-0-1 HE) almost a period and a half to solve Adam Huska in Friday night’s contest. On Saturday, it took BU just over a minute.
Bobo Carpenter opened the scoring on the power play at 1:09 of the first period, backhanding a shot past the right side of Huska. With the Terriers on the man-advantage after a high stick, Carpenter put his team ahead early after receiving a pass from Patrick Harper in the low slot, and quickly snapping a backhander into the cage.
Riding the momentum of their early strike, BU beat Huska again moments later, with Patrick Curry tallying his first of the year 21 seconds after Carpenter.
Almost immediately after going up 1-0, the Terriers broke into the UConn zone. Freshman defenseman Kasper Kotkansalo released a twisted wrist shot from the left point that Curry was able to tip past an unsuspecting Huska for the two-goal advantage.
“Definitely a dark cloud was lifted from our bench,” Quinn said of his team’s early pair. “We were making more plays, and not gripping the stick as much as we have been in the last three games. You could definitely feel it.”
The tandem of Carpenter and Curry were not only relaxed by their early strikes, but were also ignited by them. Curry would find twine again before the end of the first period, while Carpenter slotted two more past Huska for his first hat trick of the season.
With a trio of goals in Hartford, Carpenter brought his season total to five – good enough for the team high. The junior center also had a pair of shorthanded goals in Friday night’s draw with the Huskies (2-3-1, 1-2-1 HE).
“Just kind of keeping at it, you can’t really get discouraged,” Carpenter said of his offensive explosion this weekend. “[The team] helped me a lot this week in getting those [goals], I was just on the lucky end of them, and I owe a lot of the hard work to them.”
A part of that help came from Carpenter’s line-mates, which – as of the third period on Friday – now includes Curry. The sophomore forward has been shuffled around the lineup often during the season, finally finding his way to the top-trio in the final period of Friday’s tie. Without even practicing with his new line, Curry settled in seamlessly, netting his first two tallies of the year.
Scoring three goals all of last season, Curry pushed BU’s lead to three with about five minutes remaining in the opening period.
With the Terriers keeping up offensive zone pressure against UConn, freshman Brady Tkachuk collected the puck at the top of the left face-off circle and rifled it low on Huska. While the initial shot went inches wide of Huska’s left pad, Curry was there to pick up the loose puck on the weak side of the net, and slammed it home.
“We’ve had a lot of trouble scoring five-on-five recently, so that’s something we’ve been trying to do in practice all week,” Curry said.
“I was just trying to get on the pucks hard, make quick plays and stay around the net-front,” added the sophomore.
The win, however, did not come without some adversity for the Terriers. Ahead 3-0 in the second period, BU saw their lead nearly evaporate when the Huskies pumped a pair past Jake Oettinger.
With ten minutes gone in the second, Alexander Payusov grabbed his third point in two games, jamming in a wrap-around on the power play. Two minutes later Spencer Naas snatched up a loose puck that deflected oddly off the boards behind Oettinger and snapped it into the net to cut the Terrier lead to one.
And while the Terriers had seen other opponents stage comebacks in the second period, they remained calm on Saturday, eventually earning a power play thanks to Brandon Hickey. The senior captain broke down the right side of the offensive zone, drawing a holding call on UConn’s Corey Ronan.
On the man-advantage, Carpenter regained the two-goal lead for BU, athletically using one hand to curl the puck around a sprawling Huska.
“It’s really exciting to see that we can bounce back from [giving up two goals], that just shows what type of team we can be,” Carpenter said. “That’s what it’s going to take to win championships.”
In the third, the Terriers put the game away just 27 seconds into the frame with a slap shot from Brandon Hickey. And while Kasperi Ojantakanen pulled the Huskies back within a pair a few minutes later, Carpenter’s third goal late in the game – which came off of a deflected Dante Fabbro shot – iced the win for good.
Taking three of four points from the Huskies this weekend, the Terriers will have the next five days to gear up for their next contest: a tilt with No. 1 Denver.
“We might be growing up quicker than I thought we might,” Quinn surmised at the end of his post-game press conference.