By Jacob Lintner
BOSTON-In a season that’s largely been a question mark, Boston University (6-8-2, 5-5-2 HEA) finished the first half of their schedule with an exclamation point, defeating Dartmouth (4-6-2, 4-2-1 ECAC) 4-1 in the Terriers’ final contest of 2018.
The Big Green came into the match as one of four teams in the nation with a winning streak against the Terriers. The teams’ last meeting was a 2-0 Dartmouth victory on Nov. 30, 2014 over a BU squad that was ranked No. 1 in the country at the time.
Friday’s meeting didn’t have the same high-profile billing as 2014’s battle, but it was an important out-of-conference game that pit conflicting play styles against each other. The Terriers’ youthful, quick offense skated against the Big Green’s big, experienced “Timberline”: the starting forward line of Will Graber (6’5”, 190 lbs), Shane Sellar (6’3”, 200 lbs) and Quin Foreman (6’3”, 195 lbs) that is just about the same average height as the starting five of the Big Green basketball team that beat BU on Thursday.
The game began as well as Albie O’Connell’s team could have hoped. With Shane Bowers (5 goals, 3 assists), Chad Krys (3g, 5a) and captain Bobo Carpenter (9g, 3a) all sitting out, BU was missing nearly half of its offensive production. Despite the missing pieces, the Terriers skated circles around the noticeably slower Dartmouth forwards in the first period. Jack DeBoer intercepted a pass at the Terriers’ blue line and sprang Patrick Curry free to lead a two-on-one breakaway. A deft pass to Cam Crotty streaking down the slot gave the Greely, Ontario native a free lane, and Crotty’s backhand beat Dartmouth goalie Adrian Clark to give BU a 1-0 lead just five minutes into the contest.
That goal may have been the product of a chip on Crotty’s shoulder. Just that morning, Hockey Canada announced that the Terrier blue liner had been cut from Canada’s National Junior Team’s selection camp, leaving Crotty to travel more than 3,000 miles from Victoria, British Columbia to Agganis Arena to face the Big Green.
“It’s been a long day,” Crotty said with a laugh after the game. “I only got about three hours of sleep last night. It was a pretty quick turnaround, but I feel great right now, so I can’t really complain.”
To begin the second period, Jake Oettinger had to watch his team play “pond hockey,” as O’Connell said postgame, turning the puck over in the neutral zone on multiple possessions. The BU netminder made four saves in the first two minutes to preserve the Terriers’ 1-0 advantage.
Eventually, the Big Green broke through. In their first push off of a neutral-zone faceoff, Kevan Kilistoff beat Oettinger on an elevated one-timer to the top corner of his stick side to knot the game at 1-1 halfway through the second stanza.
That score did not hold for long. Just one minute later, junior Patrick Harper found the back of the net for the first time in 370 days with a highlight-reel scoop-and-score. Harper knocked a pass out of the air in BU’s offensive zone and tapped in his initial shot’s rebound with his skate to light the lamp for the Terriers and give his team a 2-1 lead headed into the third period.
The Terriers were outshot 21-15 in the first two periods, and the trend remained to begin the third frame. Oettinger (33 saves) fended off eight shots in the final period until Ty Amonte scored what Terrier TV color commentator Mark Linehan called “the prettiest goal of the year” on a breakaway one-timer set up by a perfectly placed pass from Harper. Amone’s fourth goal of the season gave BU a two-score cushion with 3:30 remaining.
Dartmouth responded by pulling their goalie and playing three skaters at the blue line. Oettinger played the part of a brick wall, stopping any shot that found its way into the crease. A technical error caused the red light behind the Dartmouth goal to turn on while the Big Green played without a goaltender. It was a self-fulfilling prophecy, as Joel Farabee knocked in an empty-netter with 1:23 left to finish the Terriers’ statement win in their last game of the semester.
“Overall, it was a really gutsy win,” O’Connell said postgame. “We were down a lot of bodies… I’m really proud of the way they played. It was a great way to end the semester, getting a win back at home. It was good for the mentality and good for the guys to go on break on a happy note.”
On the other end, the Big Green extended their losing streak to three games. They’ll look to get back into the win column in the round-robin Ledyard Classic Dec. 29 and 30.
“You know, it’s a funny game, the game of hockey,” Dartmouth head coach Bob Gaudet said. “You’ll have stretches of the season where the puck just goes in for you, and you’ll have parts of the season where it doesn’t, and we’re in one of those stretches where it’s not going in for us.”
The Terriers will certainly enjoy their time off. They will look to carry the momentum of their two-game winning streak into 2019 with college hockey’s shortest road trip: a getaway game at Harvard on Jan. 8.