By Matt Doherty
BU News Service
Facing a two-goal deficit twice in the final two periods, the Boston University men’s hockey team capped off a hard-fought comeback at Agganis Arena Friday with a 4-4 tie against the University of New Hampshire Wildcats.
Just four days after losing in the Beanpot final, the Terriers (19-9-3, 11-5-3 HEA) came out slow, playing without a lack of urgency in the first 20 minutes.
“It seemed like what happened Monday night was carrying over in the first period,” Terrier head coach David Quinn said. “There wasn’t a lot of passion and enthusiasm. Things were bleak.”
The Wildcats (12-14-5, 7-8-4 HEA) wasted no time getting things started as they took advantage of the Terrier sloppiness. Barely three minutes in, UNH junior center Michael McNicholas scored on a power play off of a beautiful feed from Tyler Kelleher to make it 1-0.
Ten minutes later, Boxford, Massachusetts native Ara Nazarian collected a loose puck in front of the BU net and sent a shot past Terrier goalkeeper Jake Oettinger to give the Wildcats a two-goal lead.
BU was outshot in the opening period for the third game in a row. Quinn noted his team’s struggle to come out with energy.
“The first goal goes in and all of a sudden we look like someone shot our dog,” Quinn said. “This is a funny game, they’re kids and teenagers, and their psyche is fragile right now.”
During the first intermission, Quinn urged his team to play with more passion and to have positive body language.
After BU killed off its third penalty of the night in the early moments of the second period, the young Terriers responded to their coach’s message and started clicking.
Sophomore Charlie McAvoy won the puck along the boards and sent a pass to Jordan Greenway, who fired a wrister from the left circle to beat Danny Tirone and cut the Wildcat lead in half.
Shortly after, the Terriers took advantage of a power play. Patrick Harper skated behind the net and found sophomore Bobo Carpenter, who sent home a one-timer to tie the game at two.
It was Carpenter’s 12th goal of the season, matching his total from his freshman season.
“To recover after the first period says a lot about our mental toughness and our resiliency,” Quinn said.
However, UNH stormed right back. This time, Kelleher passed it to the point and Dylan Chanter found the back of the net for his first career goal. The goal gave UNH a 3-2 lead.
After picking up assists on two of the first three goals, Kelleher, a Hobey Baker contender, connected on a goal with 30 seconds left in the second period to give the Wildcats their two-goal lead back.
Kelleher’s three points Friday night moved him into first place in Division I in points.
“Those goals were too easy,” Quinn said. “The goal at the end of the period was really frustrating.”
In search of a third period comeback, McAvoy scored on a one-timer from the blue line to cut the deficit to one just 20 seconds into the third period.
The Terriers had a flurry of golden opportunities to tie the game in the final frame. Carpenter nearly scored on a short-handed, 2-on-1 breakaway, and Kieffer Bellows nailed the crossbar on a shot from just in front of the blue line.
BU finally got the breakthrough it was looking for with under five minutes to go. Right out of a timeout, a Greenway shot deflected off of Tirone’s pad, where Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson put the rebound home to tie the game at four goals apiece.
“I’ll give credit to [Jordan],” Forsbacka Karlsson said. “We had a couple of those in front of the net that could have gone in, so at least one of them did.”
Following a no-call by the referees on an apparent trip that left the Agganis Arena crowd in disbelief, the game headed to an overtime period.
BU controlled the final five minutes, outshooting UNH 6-1, but the Terriers were unable to put the puck in the back of net, resulting in a 4-4 tie.
They are now 1-7-2 on the season when trailing after two periods and 3-9-2 when giving up three or more goals.
However, Quinn said he was pleased with his team’s effort to not only bounce back from the Beanpot defeat, but to come back and earn a point Friday.
Following the 6-3 loss to Harvard at TD Garden Monday, Quinn reshuffled the lines for Friday’s game, moving Clayton Keller to left wing, activating Brien Diffley and Shane Switzer to the defensive pairings, and most surprisingly, moving senior captain and defenseman Doyle Somerby to left wing.
“Each individual came ready to play and had a good mindset,” Quinn said. “We have a lot of fight left.”
The Terriers came into the night in second place and three points behind Boston College for first place in the Hockey East standings. With BC tying Vermont and Notre Dame beating Providence, BU remains three points behind the Eagles, but is now tied with ND for second place.
With just three regular season games remaining, including two against the Fighting Irish next weekend, Friday’s hard-earned point was key to helping the Terriers stay near the top of the league standings.
BU and UNH will complete the home-and-home series tonight in Durham. Puck drop from the Whittemore Center is scheduled for 7 p.m.