By: Jarett Leonard
Over the past few weekends, No. 18 Boston University men’s hockey coach David Quinn has been confident in his team’s performance despite some lopsided losses on the scoreboard. On Saturday in Portland, however, it was the Terriers who turned in a crooked victory of their own over Maine.
Last weekend, Quinn believed the score did not tell the story of BU’s 6-1 loss, and he echoed that sentiment on Friday after the Terriers (6-7-1, 4-4-1 Hockey East) fell to Maine 5-2 in Orono.
“Anybody that was at the game last night saw, we hemmed them in for two or three minutes and they come down the other end and score,” Quinn said. “It’s kind of been a microcosm of our season.”
But on Saturday in Portland, Quinn’s optimism was finally rewarded with a 7-0 shutout of the Black Bears (4-6-0, 3-3-0 Hockey East) that earned BU a series split.
“Not only a much-needed win but we needed to feel good about ourselves and score some goals,” Quinn said. “I thought we made better decisions with it, I thought we attacked with speed, I thought we got pucks to the net, and I thought we did a much better job staying around the net. When you do that you get rewarded.”
It was a weekend of firsts for BU, as four different Terrier freshmen netted their first career goals. After Kasper Kotkansalo and Logan Cockerill scored on Friday, Hank Crone and Brady Tkachuk followed suit on Saturday.
“It’s going to be important for our freshmen to score since we’re dressing eight of them every night,” Quinn said. “It means an awful lot to them and it means a lot to me”
For Tkachuk, the goal was a long time coming. The freshman entered the game with 43 shots on goal, third most on the team, and after having a potential goal negated two weeks ago, finally got one to count against Maine.
“It was definitely nice to get the monkey off the back,” Tkachuk said. “It just wouldn’t go in for the past couple games, but it definitely felt good.”
The Terriers opened the scoring just 1:26 into the game when Patrick Harper slipped the puck in front from below the goal line onto the waiting stick of Shane Bowers, who beat McGovern from the low slot.
BU extended that lead in the second period as Jordan Greenway took a cross-ice feed from Chad Krys and quickly shoveled it into the top right corner of the goal.
Later in the period, Krys was instrumental once again in a Terrier goal, this time slipping a feed across the crease to Crone, who had snuck in the back door and easily tapped the puck over the line for his first career goal.
BU would add a fourth at the end of the frame when Tkachuk buried the rebound after Kasper Kotkansalo’s wrist shot rang off the right post.
The Terriers added three more goals in the final period to run away with the victory. After a shot block, Greenway and Bobo Carpenter raced in 2-on-0, and Carpenter made no mistake with the feed from his classmate.
Just 22 seconds later, BU again created an odd-man rush, and this time it was Bowers who took care of business himself with a wrist shot from the right circle for his second of the night.
Cockerill topped off the win in the final seconds, roofing a shot from the left side on the power play. Though the Terriers put up seven on Maine, Cockerill’s goal was the only tally on the man advantage, and Quinn knows BU will need to improve on a one-for-nine weekend in that category.
“We’re a work in progress on the power play,” Quinn said. “The power play without question has to get better. We’re just going to keep working at it and chipping away at it. We get a little bit too stagnant and too predictable, but that’s going to change.”
After two-straight starts for sophomore goaltender Max Prawdzik, Jake Oettinger returned the net and pitched his second shutout of the year, turning away all 30 shots he saw to blank Maine.
“You can’t underestimate Jake Oettinger tonight,” Quinn said. “I know we scored seven but he made some key saves, some timely saves, and boy did he look good tonight.”
BU will now set its sights on Red Hot Hockey next Saturday, as the Terriers will take on Cornell at Madison Square Garden, with puck drop set for 8 p.m.