By Dakota Randall
BU News Service
After a sluggish first night that was low on offense, Boston University prevailed in a high-scoring affair over UMass to advance to the second round of the Hockey East tournament. BU won the best-of-three series, 2-0.
The Terriers were sloppy in their own zone for much of the game, but in the end overcame a spirited effort from the Minutemen.
“Just proud of our guys to find a way to win tonight,” said BU head coach David Quinn. “It wasn’t easy by any stretch of the imagination, a lot of that had to do with UMass and how hard they played.”
BU got on the board first when Bruins prospect Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson tipped home his eighth goal of the season. The freshman Swede, camped in front of UMass freshman goalie Nic Renyard, swatted the air-born rebound off the stick of Danny O’Regan into the back of the net.
The Minutemen didn’t take long to respond, as Sophomore Dennis Kravchenko scored the tying goal at 8:33 of the first period. UMass’ ability to tie the game was a recurring theme throughout the night.
The first four periods of the series were snoozers. Saturday’s second period, though, was a barn-burner.
Two seniors connected to help the Terriers open the floodgates. Part of a strong power play for BU, Matt Grzelcyk took a feed from Charlie McAvoy up the half-wall, and dished it across the zone to O’Regan for a one-timer to give the Terriers a 2-1 lead.
Once again, UMass answered.
Riding the momentum from a dominant power play, one that was only held scoreless thanks to the play of BU goalie Sean Maguire, the Minutemen tied the game with a goal from senior Shane Walsh.
Barely a minute later, BU regained the lead on Grzelcyk’s tenth goal of the season. Another Bruins product, Grzelcyk took a pass just inside the blue line from McAvoy, and buried a slap-shot to put the Terriers up 3-2.
The two teams again quickly traded goals in the closing minutes of the period. UMass’s Kurt Keat’s connected on a one-timer on a power play to tie the score at 17:50, but O’Regan scored again at 18:45 to regain the lead for BU. Jordan Greenway carried the puck along the wall and behind the net, and was able to hold off the UMass defenseman before assisting O’Regan’s second goal of the night.
Playing their final games at Agganis Arena, O’Regan and Grzelcyk are one step closer to closing out their Hockey East careers in storybook fashion.
“Danny and Matt, as people know, both had chances to leave,” said Quinn. “I think if you talk to both of them, they’re really happy they came back.”
The Minutemen came out of the locker room and into the third period with a burst of energy. At 3:51, Callum Fryer put a shot on Maguire, who was unable to locate the rebound. Freshman Austin Plevy netted the second-chance opportunity for UMass to again tie the contest.
For Quinn, the Minutemen’s ability to tie the game four times was as much a testament to UMass’s hard play as it was to the Terriers’ defensive struggles.
“It’s a game of want,” said Quinn, “and at times they wanted it more than we did. That’s why the games were as tight as they were.”
With 11:51 remaining in the game, BU’s first line again took center stage. After receiving a pass from behind the net, Forsbacka Karlsson fanned on his first try, but netted the do-over for his second goal of the game. The play was assisted by O’Regan and McAvoy. The helper on the game-winner was McAvoy’s fourth assist of the game.
In his final appearance on Commonwealth Avenue, O’Regan became the first Terrier since Chris Drury to record 150 career points.
“It was definitely weird thinking about the fact that it was my last game here,” said O’Regan. “Definitely going to miss playing here with all the great fans. To go out on a good note was a special thing.”
BU will now take on the fourth-seeded UMass-Lowell Riverhawks in the Hockey East Quarterfinals. The first game will take place Friday Night in Lowell at the Tsongas Center.