By: Jarett Leonard
BOSTON — It was shaping up to be yet another frustrating loss for No. 18 Boston University on Friday night in the Hockey East semifinals against No. 14 Boston College at TD Garden.
A questionable reversal of a potential BU (20-13-4) go-ahead goal allowed the Eagles (20-14-3) to take a lead of their own, but the Terriers fought back to force overtime and eventually complete the comeback with a winner from Patrick Curry.
The Terriers had outshot the Eagles 27-12 through two periods and controlled play throughout, and with the game knotted at one, Jordan Greenway appeared to give BU its first lead of the night early in the third. But after review, it was ruled that Brady Tkachuk interfered with BC goaltender Joseph Woll (41 saves) to negate the goal, and the Eagles scored just moments later to take a 3-2 lead of their own.
“[The official] said he thought [Tkachuk] got in there before, he wasn’t forced in,” BU Head Coach David Quinn said. “I wasn’t really interested in listening to what he said. It’s waved off, I’m not going to talk him out of it, you’ve got to move on.”
Despite the call and ensuing go-ahead tally from the Eagles, the Terriers went right back to work in the BC zone and eventually got another past Woll. From below the goal line, Greenway slipped the puck out front to Drew Melanson, who jammed it through Woll’s five-hole to tie the score at 3-3.
“Obviously we were frustrated at first, anyone would be,” Greenway said. “You’ve got to keep playing, you’ve got to keep doing what we were doing the whole game. We felt like if we stuck to our system, continued to play hard that we’d get another one to go in. We just wanted to continue to build on what we did in the first two periods.”
Unlike the first 60 minutes, it was the Eagles who took control of the game in extra time. But BU goaltender Jake Oettinger (36 saves) was up to the task, denying all 14 of BC’s shots in overtime as the Terriers gained their footing.
A power play chance in the extra frame was unsuccessful, but a few moments later, BU converted. Freshman Shane Bowers attempted a hard wraparound that came off the pads of Woll, but Curry was there to clean up the rebound and send the Terriers to the Hockey East championship game for the first time since 2015 with a 4-3 win.
“I was coming off the bench, it was a good change in the O-zone,” Curry described his goal. “I went to support Bowers for a cycle. I saw he tried to beat the man so decided to jump back to the backdoor of the net. He tried to stuff it and luckily it went right on my stick and went in the back of the net.”
Greenway collected two assists on the night and now has seven points in five games since returning from the Olympics to lead the team over that span. Along with Melanson and Tkachuk, his line was dominant on Friday, and Quinn said Greenway’s return has made all the difference.
“The group that played tonight hasn’t lost a game since Jan. 6,” Quinn said. “The two games we lost [Greenway] was gone for the Olympics. He’s playing his best hockey of his career, as you could see tonight. He’s playing with such confidence, he’s doing everything for us.”
Like when the two teams met at Conte Forum in December, BC got on the board early, as Connor Moore’s drive from the left point deflected off the post on Oettinger’s glove side and in.
The Terriers dictated the play for the rest of the first and into the middle period, but it was the Eagles who struck again to extend the lead. On a 4-on-4, Julius Mattila was left uncovered at the top of the crease, taking a feed from David Cotton from below the goal line and beating Oettinger to give BC a 2-0 lead.
“We gave them a goal to go down 2-0 and all of a sudden you’re thinking, Woll’s in net, it’s semifinals, BU-BC,” Quinn said. “But boy did we show some grit, some toughness, some resiliency to be sitting here right now and being able to play tomorrow night.”
But similar to that matchup in December, the Terriers quickly turned the momentum back in their favor. It started with BU’s Beanpot semifinal hero Ty Amonte, as he took a feed from classmate Hank Crone and patiently waited for Woll to lose his positioning before burying it to get the Terriers on the board in the second period.
Then 1:37 later, it was another freshman who found the back of the net, this time defenseman-turned-forward David Farrance, who one-timed a cross-ice feed from Chad Krys past Woll to even the score.
“I think it’s the ebbs and flows,” BC Head Coach Jerry York said. “There’s good teams both ways, so we’re going to have a run like we did in OT, they’re going to have a run like they did in the second. They have a pretty good club here. These are the four best teams in Hockey East and there’s not going to be a heck of a difference between these two teams.”
After Greenway’s goal was reversed, the junior was whistled for goaltender interference after he went barreling across the crease and made contact with Woll. The Terriers killed the penalty, but BC struck just moments later. On a scramble in front of Oettinger, Christopher Brown found the puck in the pile and finished, a goal that was confirmed upon review.
“I thought we played our best hockey late,” York said. “I thought our OT was outstanding as far as creating offensive chances…as far as our psyche and our mental attitude the rest of the game, I thought we got better.”
But that was all for BC, as Curry’s goal eliminated the Eagles from the Hockey East Tournament and may have ended their season. There’s a small chance BC can still claim an at-large bid for the NCAA Tournament, and though it appears unlikely at this point, York is not giving up hope his season can continue.
“I wasn’t willing to shake everybody’s hand tonight,” York said. “Usually when you lose a game that finishes your season that’s a tradition I have, but I think we can still shake this thing out.”
After a year defined but inconsistency, one win has put the Terriers in a position to turn a relatively disappointing year into a successful one. BU will most likely need a win to get into the national tournament, and will face No. 9 Providence on Saturday night in the Hockey East Championship.
“It’s not a situation you want to be in but I think our team has done everything in our power to continue to fight and do what we have to do to continue to play into the postseason,” Greenway said. “I couldn’t be happier with the group of guys. We’ve been battling for a while and to go out there and face the adversity that we did tonight and come out with a win like we did in overtime against a really good team.”
Puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m. at TD Garden. Jarett Leonard and Dave Souza will have the call on WTBU Sports.