Men’s Hockey: Terriers Come Up Short in Series Against Northern Michigan

By: Allie Debe

BOSTON – The Boston University Terriers (1-1-1) finished up a two-game bout with Northern Michigan (2-1-1) Saturday with a difficult 4-3 loss after a 4-4 tie the night before.

Coming off an electric, season-opening 7-3 win against Union two weeks prior, the Boys in Scarlett looked to bring the same energy into the series against the Wildcats at home. Skating fast, scoring early, and playing the same level of aggressive play as they did back in Schenectady would be key to a successful series.

Friday night’s game started out with the similar gusto of BU’s last contest. Despite a goal from Northern Michigan’s Joseph Nardi a minute and two seconds into the game, the Terriers were able to answer shortly after with three goals in the first period: one power play goal from senior assistant captain Patrick Harper, a goal from junior forward David Farrance, and another power play goal from junior assistant captain Logan Cockerill. The team lit up quickly and with persistence in the offensive arena.

Patrick Curry’s third goal of the season would prove to be the final goal of the night for the Terriers. Photo by Ryan Gregory.

The momentum partly carried into the second period where senior captain Patrick Curry deflected in BU’s fourth unanswered goal off a beautiful tic-tac-toe play from freshmen defenseman Alex Vlasic and forward Trevor Zegras.

However, Curry’s tally would be the only goal scored in the second period, and it would be the last shot of the night a Terrier would bury between the pipes. In the third period, BU couldn’t seem to catch a break with penalties called on freshman d-man Case McCarthy, junior forward Jake Witkowski, and Curry. With only one penalty to their name in the third period, the Northern Michigan Wildcats would go on to score three goals, one a power play goal, to tie the game at 4-4, sending the Terriers to their first overtime of the season.

In overtime, BU got off to a rocky start when freshman defenseman Domenick Fensore was called for boarding after just 26 seconds. However, they kept their composure, killed the penalty, and 28 seconds later drew a penalty themselves with 2:06 left to play. This didn’t prove to be enough time for either team to score, however, leaving the game at a  draw.

Graduate transfer goaltender Sam Tucker came up with 16 saves on 20 shots for the Terriers in the tie. At the other end, freshman John Hawthorne stopped 35 of 39 shots for the Wildcats.

Saturday night, BU hoped for redemption after giving up their three-goal lead the previous night, with sophomore goaltender Vinnie Purpura starting over Tucker. The game noticeably started out at a much more controlled pace than the last two games had. Five minutes in, and though BU lead the Wildcats in shots with a 5-1 advantage, the Terriers had little luck capitalizing on their chances until Harper sank a feed from Fensore top shelf at 6:04 of the first.

Awake and alive after Harper’s adrenaline-boosting goal, the Terriers began to bring their level of play to a boil, hitting a little harder and skating a little faster. Yet maybe a bit too aggressive as freshman forward Ethan Phillips was called for a hooking minor less than two minutes after Harper’s offensive spark. Despite being able to successfully kill the penalty, the Terriers struggled to gain back the offensive momentum.

The top line of Harper (21), Zegras (13), and Curry (11), would go on to combine for eight total points on the weekend. Photo by Ryan Gregory.

Their struggle only deepened with a goal from NMU’s Darien Craighead, another penalty, this time called on Farrance, and another goal from NMU’s Vincent de Mey to bring the score to 2-1 in favor of Northern Michigan. Though BU was able to maintain a 9-8 shot advantage and draw a penalty heading out of the first, the ground they’d lost was evident in the score.

The second period presented the Terriers with a number of power play chances, including one five-minute major call on Hank Sorenson from Northern Michigan for checking from behind and game misconduct, all of which failed to yield any production. Ironically enough, with seven out of 20 minutes played with a man advantage, the only goal to come from the second period was an even-strength deflection from Curry.

The third period yielded a two-goal run for Northern Michigan, one of which came on the back of a five-minute major assessed to graduate forward Alex Brink for contact to the head and game misconduct, to bring the score to 4-2.

With the clock dwindling down and a two-goal deficit to make up for, the Terriers kicked it into high gear. With just under two and a half to go in the game, head coach Albie O’Connell called a timeout and pulled Purpura to put an extra skater on the ice.

Less than 30 seconds later, freshman forward Trevor Zegras was able to wrist a shot top shelf from a tough angle at the bottom of the left circle, notching his first collegiate goal and bringing the Terriers a bit closer to their redemption with the now 4-3 score.

Matt Quercia (20) battles Joseph Nardi (18) at the faceoff dot. Photo by Ryan Gregory.

The Terriers saw a couple of decent looks in the end, and Farrance, acting as Purpura, blocked a shot at point blank to keep the score at 4-3, but neither the offensive or defensive effort was enough to send it to overtime, leaving the Terriers with their first loss of the season. For the Terriers, Purpura was able to stop 29 of the 33 shots that came his way, while Wildcat sophomore Nolan Kent came up with 27 saves on 30 shots.

This weekend’s games weren’t all disappointment and frustration, though. BU saw a massive effort from seven of the 13 newbies to the team with notable contributions from both Fensore, who had two assists Saturday, and Zegras, who had two assists Friday and a major goal on Saturday. Despite the lack of success in the win column, the team holds promise for games to come with the production instigated from the new guys and the chemistry this group contains.

The Terriers will be looking to cut down on their penalty minutes and build on their team chemistry next Friday against UMass Lowell in Lowell at 7:00 pm.

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