By Pat O’Rourke
BU News Service
With the BU mens hockey team’s Hockey East opener against UConn tied at one apiece entering the third period on Saturday, the game came down to the final 20 minutes at Agganis Arena.
As they did so many times in the 2014-15 season that ended in the national title game, the Terriers took the game over in the third, sending the Huskies back to Connecticut with a 4-2 defeat.
“For two periods, I thought we were incredibly cute [with the puck], which isn’t going to get us anywhere in this game,” said BU
head coach David Quinn. “I thought in the third period we really simplified things.”
UConn came flying right off the opening faceoff, with a BU turnover off the opening draw leading to a breakaway for Huskies right wing Evan Richardson. The crossbar saved the Terriers from the early deficit.
“We weren’t ready early on for [UConn’s] pace,” said Quinn. “I thought as the first period went on we started matching their pace and playing at the pace we needed to play at.”
The Terriers broke through late in the first period, with freshman Ryan Cloonan potting his second goal of the season. Matt Lane took the puck from the corner and cycled around the top right circle, landing the shot on net. A net-front scrum ensued, and Cloonan buried the chance.
BU ended the first with a 12-8 shot advantage.
The Huskies tied the game at 4:48 of the second when Max Letunov was lost deep in the BU zone, scoring his fourth of the year to tie the game.
“I thought our puck management was incredibly sloppy tonight,” said Quinn. “I thought we held onto it way too long.”
BU took the game over in the third period.
A Patrick Kirkland penalty at 4:52 of the third put the Terriers on the powerplay. Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson put the Terriers ahead for good 58 seconds later, with his first career goal on a feed from Danny O’Regan, making it 2-1.
“I think we all just kind of woke up a little bit [in the third period],” said O’Regan. “We realized we were just getting outskated to a lot of pucks, and outworked, all the things we had in our control.
“We just kid of flipped the switch, and played a little harder, play a little more simple.”
The Terriers were 3-0-2 in 2014-15 when tied after the second period. They lost the season-opener to Union, 5-3, after being tied with 20 minutes remaining. BU got back on track Saturday.
Brandon Fortunato added his second goal in as many games with 11:50 to go in the game to put the Terriers ahead, 4-2. BU outshot the Huskies, 15-3, in the third period.
“They owned the first four shifts of the third period,” said UConn coach Mike Cavanaugh. “That’s what set the tone for the third period.”
UConn pulled within one with Letunov’s second goal of the night with 24 seconds remaining and Huskies goaltender Rob Nichols (29 saves) pulled. But that was as close as UConn would get, as Brandon Hickey scored the empty-netter to ice the game with 16 seconds remaining.
Pat O’Rourke is the sports editor for BU News Service. You can follow him on Twitter @patorourke_29.