By Torrance Latham
BU News Service
Trick-or-treat. For Terriers fans, they were able to experience all that Halloween had to offer this weekend.
The trick: Turning a downward spiral of consecutive losses — their first losing streak since February 2014 — into a ghost of this week’s past by defeating No. 5 Denver at Agganis Arena.
The treat: With BU desperately in need of a sorcerer after blowing a two-goal lead in the third period, the Wizard of Ahti Oksanen provided the mojo by scoring his second goal of the day as the Terriers handed the Pioneers a 5-4 defeat in overtime.
By casting away their two-game losing skid, BU apparently handed it off to the Pioneers on Saturday.
BU (3-3) was in control most of the game, never trailing as they took a commanding 4-2 lead behind Oksansen’s power play goal with 6:28 left in the second period. But Denver (3-3-0) wouldn’t go away quietly, forcing overtime after two third period goals. The momentum was short lived, as Oksanen shot a laser from the left circle 21 seconds into overtime to seal the deal.
“It’s certainly nice to bounce back and get a win after last night,” said BU head coach David Quinn. “I really liked our first two periods. I think our third period was a microcosm of where we are mentally right now. I don’t know if we’re really ready to win and put teams away.”
BU came out aggressive, scoring 1:58 into the match, when freshmen forward Ryan Cloonan scored from the slot on assists from senior Matt Lane and freshman Jordan Greenway.
Denver responded halfway midway through the first period when defensemen Will Butch’s high shot escaped BU goaltender Connor LaCouvee’s grasp. In addition to the goal, Butcher also finished with two assists for the Pioneers.
The Terriers capped off a back-and-forth first period when sophomore forward A.J. Greer found junior center Robbie Baillargeon, with a front shot that flew past Denver sophomore goalie Tanner Jaillet.
In the second period, BU sophomore defensemen Brandon Hickey ended Jaillet’s night when he took advantage of a Denver turnover and glided through several defensemen, capped off by a phenomenal backhand shot from the right wing. That was Hickey’s second goal in as many nights, after scoring the night before in BU’s road loss to Merrimack.
“I’m starting to feel better and better as the season progresses,” said Hickey. “The last few games I’ve felt really good out there. So I’m just trying to help lead the team.”
The Pioneers would respond minutes later, making it 3-2 when forward Gabe Levin scored off of a rebound opportunity.
Oksanen’s relentless pursuit finally paid off when he scored his first goal of the year on a power play opportunity with 6:18 left to play in the second. He took a pass from senior assistant captain Danny O’Regan and wristed a high shot past Denver junior goalie Evan Crowley (12 saves).
The third period was all Pioneers, as they outshot BU by an astonishing 36-10 margin. Denver quickly cut into their deficit within the first five minutes when freshmen Troy Terry scored. Minutes later, senior center Quentin Shore managed to score on a shorthanded opportunity to shock the 3,000 plus crowd at Agganis Arena, evening the score at 4.
Though LaCouvee gave up 4 goals, Coach Quinn was pleased with his consistency. He finishing with 34 saves, managing a phenomenal 16 of those in the third period alone.
Playing on the night of Halloween, it was fitting that BU buried their two-game losing streak. The Terriers removed any masks of doubt and showed their resiliency when their backs were against the wall. They rose above those hovering clouds of uncertainty against one of the premiere teams in college hockey.
“It was a great win. That’s a talented, talented team. You’re not going to see many better teams in the country than them,” said Quinn. “They’ve got some great players. You hold your breath ever time that top line gets out there. But I thought we did a pretty good job overall tonight.”