By: Dave Souza
BOSTON — Propelled by a pair of Bobo Carpenter tallies and a 26-save performance by sophomore goaltender Jake Oettinger, the Boston University Terriers moved past Merrimack College, 3-1, to complete their first weekend sweep of the season.
The win vaults BU (11-11-2, 9-7-2 HE) into a tie for third place in Hockey East; the Terriers are currently even with the Providence College Friars at 20 points apiece.
“I was just really happy for our guys,” said BU Coach Dave Quinn. “It’s crunch time now, and two things we’ve talked about: we need to have urgency because we don’t have time. We’ve created a situation for ourselves where every second counts…four points feels good.”
Since the Terriers’ return from semester break, BU has started to turn the proverbial corner, scratching out points in all but one of their five games in January. After a gritty road win over New Hampshire and a tie with the 11th ranked Friars at home, BU set their sights on a four-point weekend, something they hadn’t accomplished all season.
Both contests presented tough challenges for the scarlet and white – in game one the Terriers won at Lawler Rink, doing so for the first time in five seasons. In the second half of their home-and-home, BU had to follow up a grinding Friday night win with a solid performance on Saturday. Leading the way for BU the their home tilt was Carpenter, the team’s leading scorer.
Carpenter struck twice, with the first doubling the BU lead four minutes into the second period. Fresh off of a penalty kill, the Terriers broke in the Merrimack zone with Carpenter and Shane Bowers on a two-on-one. Bowers waited patiently, keeping the lone defenseman in the center of the ice, before feeding Carpenter on the far post. The junior assistant captain tapped home the pass to make it 2-0 BU.
In the third, Carpenter added a power play strike to put the Terriers ahead by two once again. After Merrimack’s Ludvig Larsson made it a one-goal game in the last two minutes of the second, Carpenter found himself alone in the slot on a BU man-advantage. With defensemen gravitating towards puck carrier Jordan Greenway, Carpenter stood open, ready to receive his linemate’s pass. When he did, Carpenter whirled around before slotting a shot past Merrimack’s Drew Vogler (23 saves).
“My teammates made those quick plays, and I’m lucky enough to be in the slot there,” Carpenter said. “I’m always kind of in the lucky end it seems.”
“Bobo leaves no stone unturned when it comes to preparation,” Quinn said. “He gets pretty hard on himself when he doesn’t score or doesn’t have a productive night in his mind…once he starts scoring the puck finds its way into the back of the net.”
While the Terriers had been unable to rattle off a pair of wins in a weekend, they were able to seize the early lead against the Warriors in the first.
Parked at the right of the Merrimack cage, Brady Tkachuk started the scoring off for BU at the 12:28 mark of the first period, sliding what looked to be a drop-pass through his legs intended for the slot. However, the attempt slipped into the net after it caromed off Vogler’s outstretched stick.
The Terriers penalty kill had a tremendous outing on the evening, killing off seven penalties in the contest – three of which occurred in the third period. And while Coach Quinn harped on his team’s need to stay out of sin bin, he did commend his shorthanded unit for their stellar work.
“I thought that we were more aggressive than we were last night, we made a couple of adjustments that helped, we blocked shots, and it starts with your goalie,” Quinn said. “When your goalie looks like Jake did tonight your penalty kill is going to look good, and you kill with a little more confidence, and you’re a little bit more aggressive.”