By Taylor Raglin
BU News Service
The fifth-ranked Boston University men’s hockey team survived a third-period surge by rival Boston College inside a sold-out Agganis Arena Friday night, holding on for a 2-1 victory in the first half of the teams’ home-and-home Hockey East series.
The win extended the Terriers’ (13-5-2, 6-2-2 HEA) winning streak to five games as they continue to chase the league-leading Eagles (14-8-2, 9-2-1 HEA).
Goaltender Jake Oettinger buoyed the Terriers in the final frame, making 12 of his 32 saves in the period to preserve a 2-1 lead. The freshman’s first-star effort was punctuated by several highlight-reel stops, arguably the biggest of which came when he lashed out with his left pad to stone the Eagles on a rebound chance in the game’s closing act.
Oettinger’s play was the highlight of what BU head coach David Quinn called a “tentative” third period.
“I thought we kind of sat back, which certainly wasn’t our plan, and gave them too much time and space,” he said. “When you do that against a really good team, you’re going to spend a lot of time in your end … Our goalie stood tall in the third, and overall it’s a big win. Anytime you beat a team like that, you’ve got to be happy.”
From the jump, the 271st meeting between the rivals lived up to expectations. A physical first period set up a duel between Oettinger and Eagle netminder Joe Woll, teammates and gold medal winners for the United States at the recent IIHF World Junior Championship. Oettinger stopped 11 shots to Woll’s 15 in the period, and the teams headed off the ice after 20 minutes without either being perforated.
Woll finished the night with 31 stops of his own, an effort that would likely be a winning one on many nights.
“I think both goaltenders played well,” Eagle head coach Jerry York said. “Those are two very good goaltenders, and they make the defense better on both sides. I thought we had some good opportunities that [Oettinger] stopped, but that’s part of facing good goaltenders. You’re not going to get many freebies.”
The game opened up in the middle frame, with sophomore Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson finding the net for the sixth time in the last three games to give the Terriers a 1-0 lead. BC’s Colin White found air behind Oettinger shortly after for a game-tying power play goal, but Terrier freshman Clayton Keller steered home a pass from World Junior Championship teammate Jordan Greenway to put BU on top for good.
“It’s definitely pretty cool to score against BC,” Keller said. “Greenway made a great play down low and found me in front, so I have to give a lot of credit to him.”
Quinn echoed the praise of Greenway, who he says doesn’t receive enough credit for his skill.
“People talk about [Greenway’s] size and his strength, and that’s certainly evident, but I think what doesn’t get enough attention is what a great playmaker he is and what great vision he has,” Quinn said.
Senior captain Doyle Somerby said that the narrow victory will serve as another learning experience for a youthful Terrier team.
“We can definitely take some things away [from playing with a 2-1 lead in a big game]—we can’t let our emotion get the best of us,” he said. “I thought we let off the gas a little bit and just tried to preserve the lead instead of playing the way we were.”
Prior to the tilt, all 12 players who participated in the 2017 WJC were honored. It made for an interesting dynamic in the decades-old rivalry, as many of the Eagles and Terriers were teammates during the tournament.
“It’s definitely a little weird,” Keller said. “A week ago, we were champions for Team USA, so it’s definitely a little hard. But once you get out there and see the crowd, it gets you going a little bit. It’s pretty easy after that. You’re playing for your team, and you’re against those guys.”
That intensity and atmosphere will certainly carry over to Monday’s matchup, when the Terriers will travel to Chestnut Hill and BC’s Conte Forum for the final game of the home-and-home series. Puck drop is set for 7 p.m.