By: David Souza
BOSTON — Holding a 3-1 lead going into the third period, the Boston University men’s ice hockey team had a perfect opportunity to gain two crucial conference points before their Beanpot Championship tilt against Northeastern. However, instead of closing out the University of Massachusetts, the Terriers watched as the Minutemen rallied with two-goals in the final frame to draw 3-3 at Agganis Arena on Friday night.
“A disappointing tie from our end,” said BU coach Dave Quinn. “Obviously you’re up 3-1 going into the third period, and you just got to play a good, solid period.
“I thought the game lulled us to sleep a little bit because we had the puck, we had some chances, it’s 3-1, we were playing well, and we just didn’t have that killer instinct.”
Just over two minutes into the third period, the Minutemen (12-16-2, 6-12-2 Hockey East) halved their two-goal deficit with a deflection from Jack Suter. Freshman forward Austin Albrecht began the sequence deep in the BU zone, curled up towards the near point just past the Terrier bench before wristing a chance into the slot. Albrecht’s initial drive was tipped low by Suter, who deflected the puck past BU’s Jake Oettinger (20 saves) high, blocker side.
Ten minutes later, the Minutemen were at it again. Freshman forward Mitchell Chaffee streaked down the left side of the BU zone before hitting senior Nick Rufo with a drop pass as he drove to the net. Rufo put a shot on goal that Oettinger steered aside with a pad save, but the rebound popped right out to Chaffee, who buried the disk into the open net for the equalizer.
“We felt like if we held onto the puck and made plays, the game would trend in our favor, and that was the case in the third,” said UMass coach Greg Carvel, who told how he challenged his team going into the third period.
“I said ‘Let’s see if we can go out there for 20 minutes, finish every check, possess the puck, execute plays, make plays, do what we’re capable of, drive the net, just basic things.”
Despite turning up the pressure in the latter half of the third and throwing a trio of shots on goal in overtime, the Terriers (15-11-3, 10-7-3 Hockey East) were unable to net the game winner.
They did however strike three times in the first two periods, with freshman Shane Bowers netting a pair of goals to push his season total to 15.
Bowers first tally came 34 seconds after UMass took a 1-0 lead in the first. Logan Cockerill began the sequence down the far side of the Minutemen zone, snapping a shot on goal that UMass net minder Matt Murray (38 saves) steered aside with ease. Much like the Minutemen’s equalizer, Murray’s pad save produced a rebound that popped right out in front of the UMass goal. Standing right on the doorstep, Bowers one-timed home the second chance to draw BU even.
The freshman was not done, adding another goal early in the second period. With the Terriers on the power play, Bowers struck ten seconds into the man-advantage, poking home a loose puck that snuck past Murray off of a Dante Fabbro slap shot. The tally gave BU their 3-1 lead with 17:58 to go in the middle frame.
“Obviously the help of my line mates has really helped,” Bowers said of his recent tear. “Being able to get the puck, and feed off them, and work with each other; but, I think just getting the bounces, things are falling right now, and hopefully they continue to.”
“I know they’re freshman, but they’ve played a lot of hockey for us,” Quinn said of his second line. “This time of year, I think there’s a little bit more of a comfort level on their end of it, I don’t think their as nervous, I think they understand what we’re expecting from them. I think they understand what college hockey demands from them, and how to have success.”
The contest was the first for BU without junior forward Jordan Greenway, who is in Pyeongchang, South Korea with Team USA for the Winter Olympics. Despite losing their first-line center, the Terrier offense looked like it did not miss a beat, peppering Murray with 41 shots throughout the contest.
“If we didn’t have chances I’d be worried, but we feel confident in our lineup, we think we’ve got depth,” Quinn said.
Bobo Carpenter added to his team lead in goals – which now stands at 17 – with a breakaway strike in the closing seconds of the first period. The junior caught a pass from Hank Crone in the neutral zone and skated in on Murray as the final seconds ticked away. With two Minutemen flanking him on either side, Carpenter somehow was able to wrist a shot from the right hash mark that beat Murray high glove side to give BU the lead.
UMass opened the scoring at 7:45 of the first period, with sophomore Griff Jeszka slotting a shot past Oettinger off a feed from defenseman Mario Ferraro.
The Terriers will now set their sights on Northeastern and the Beanpot Championship, which gets underway Monday night at 7:30. A win would deliver BU their 31st Beanpot, while a loss would assure that the Huskies end their 30-year drought in the February tournament.