By: David Souza
BOSTON — With less than a minute remaining in the third period, the No. 6 Boston University Terriers were poised to take No. 1 Denver to overtime after twice tying the score. Pioneer junior Troy Terry, however, had no intentions of an extra frame, as the forward buried the game-winner over the shoulder of BU’s Jake Oettinger with just 16.1 seconds remaining. The goal stood as the difference-maker as Denver defeated host BU, 4-3, on Friday night at Agganis Arena.
“That’s a hell of a hockey team; there’s a reason they’re number one in the country,” said Head Coach Dave Quinn of the Pioneers. “It was an entertaining game, but I didn’t come here to get entertained. I came here to win a hockey game and unfortunately we weren’t able to do it.”
Collecting the puck in the corner, Terry curled back towards the net before skating in on Oettinger unopposed. The junior then released a quick shot from down low in the face-off circle, slotting the puck just over the right shoulder of Oettinger.
Terry, who also registered an assist on the Pioneers’ first goal, was the offensive catalyst for Denver (3-0-2). Seemingly creating scoring chances every time he touched the puck, Terry was finally rewarded with the game-winner, after his early goal in the second period was disallowed because of goalie interference.
“When [Terry] competes and he’s relentless like he was tonight – and he has been a lot – he just has the puck on his stick, and when the puck is on his stick, it’s positive results for Denver hockey,” said Denver coach Jim Montgomery, who praised the Terriers play in his post-game press conference.
“I thought for the majority of the game they were the better team. I thought their forecheck was incredible, and I thought they played with great emotion and energy […] in the last four minutes our best players took over the game.”
The Terriers (3-3-1) entered the final period of Friday night’s contest down a goal, after the Pioneers struck three times in the first. Ratcheting up the intensity, BU continued to buzz around the net, putting quality chances on the Denver cage that goalie Tanner Jaillet repeatedly turned aside. Finally, just after the Pioneers killed off their fifth penalty of the night, the Terriers netted the equalizer on a Dante Fabbro wrister from the point.
Brady Tkachuk began the sequence by sending a slap shot into the pad of Jaillet, who had to move to his far right to make the save. Then, Ryan Cloonan picked up the loose puck behind the sprawling Denver goalie and sped around the back of the cage before feeding Fabbro up high. The sophomore defenseman then unleashed a wrist shot through traffic that beat Jaillet glove side.
“In the second we weren’t moving the puck quick enough, moving our feet, [and] our entries into the zone weren’t great,” Fabbro said of how the Terriers adapted in the third. “The biggest focus for us going into that third period, on the power play, was getting into the zone and making sure we have possession of the puck and shooting.”
Fabbro’s tally stood as the second BU equalizer of the night, as the Terriers had rallied out of a 2-0-hole midway through the first period. After Denver took a two-goal lead four minutes into the contest, the Terriers went to work on solving Jaillet; they did so twice before the end of the frame.
Ty Amonte got the Terriers on the board by netting his first collegiate goal midway through the first. Skating to the far post after being crunched by Denver’s Adam Plant, Amonte watched as his line mate, Drew Melanson, collected the puck in the corner before feeding it over with a cross-ice pass. The freshman buried the opportunity to halve the deficit, literally jumping for joy at his first goal in a BU uniform.
Less than two minutes later, junior Bobo Carpenter continued his red-hot streak. Already with five goals in BU’s last two games, Carpenter struck for his team-best sixth of the year off of a great feed from Jordan Greenway.
An initial drive from Chad Krys was deflected by a Denver penalty-killer, but the errant puck skittered to the backhand of Greenway, who quickly flicked it back to Carpenter in the low slot. A swift snapshot was all it took to pull the Terriers even.
“In order to win championships you need a lot of characteristics, not just talent. And being mentally tough and resilient are certainly two of the characteristics you’re going to need,” Quinn said.
“Against a team like that you need everybody pulling in the right direction and I thought everybody did.”
Anchoring his team, Oettinger made 22 saves on the night, including a flurry in the second period when BU had to kill off a pair of penalties. The sophomore’s best save came on a shot that caromed off the post, hit Oettinger in the back and trickled towards the goal line. The net minder spun around and scooped the puck out of the crease with his paddle, keeping the Terrier deficit to one.
Later in that same sequence, Oettinger was called on to make a number of fantastic saves, twice losing his stick while using his pads, blocker, chest, shoulders and seemingly everything else at his disposal to steer Denver shots away.
Of the four shots Oettinger did allow to get past him, two came in the game’s first four minutes. Jake Durflinger converted on a Denver two-on-one just minutes before his teammate Colin Staub pitchforked a backhander past Oettinger on the man-advantage.
The Pioneers regained the lead after BU’s two-goal comeback, as Staub struck for his second goal of the night on a rebound in front of the net.
The win sets Denver up for a weekend sweep, as they visit the Eagles of Boston College on Saturday night. The Terriers will also be in action on Saturday, traveling down to Schneider Arena to square off with the Providence College Friars in a conference tilt.