By Matthew Doherty
BU News Service
After a roller-coaster week that included back-to-back disappointing losses to Merrimack College, the Boston University men’s hockey team ended its tumultuous five-day stretch on a high note.
Saturday night, the No. 1 Terriers used a blue-collar mentality and two third-period goals from sophomore forward Bobo Carpenter to best No. 7 UMass Lowell 4-2 at Agganis Arena.
After heading into the third period tied at one, the Terriers dominated the final frame with good puck movement and hard work from their top line, which scored the go-ahead goal and helped snap their two-game losing skid.
“It’s certainly nice to get back on the winning side of things after some disappointing losses,” Terrier head coach David Quinn said. “I thought we played our best hockey the last couple of minutes … it was grunt, blue-collar, roll your sleeves up and get to work.”
As pleased as he was with how his team ended the game, Quinn also noted his club’s slow-start and the costly turnovers that doomed the Terriers in the opening period.
“I thought, early on, we really complicated things. We spent a lot of time on our end because of turnovers and not understanding dangerous areas,” Quinn said.
The Riverhawks took advantage of the Terriers’ slow start, as freshman Ryan Lohin scored a power play goal off of a Charlie McAvoy penalty. However, BU responded minutes later, when fourth-liner Gabriel Chabot beat UML goaltender Tyler Wall on a two-on-one breakaway to tie the game at one.
Despite the score being tied at the end of the first, Lowell controlled the majority of the period and outshot the Terriers 14-6.
The Riverhawks continued their stellar play in the second frame. Working on the power play twice, Lowell had multiple chances to gain the lead, but freshman goaltender Jake Oettinger put together an outstanding second period performance between the pipes to keep the match tied.
“Our goalie gave us a chance. He made some great saves in the second period to keep it 1-1,” Quinn said. “I’m glad we have him. There’s not another guy I would want.”
No save was bigger than Oettinger’s highlight-reel glove grab on a shorthanded breakaway from John Edwardh. The stop sprung the Agganis Arena crowd to life and preserved the tie.
“I know my job is to step up when my name is called. Fortunately, I did that tonight,” Oettinger said. “It was a really good win for our team.”
Oettinger’s saves gave the Terriers a bolt of energy that propelled them to a high-paced third period. After strong rushes from the third-liners Tommy Kelley and Nick Roberto, the top line finally delivered the breakthrough goal halfway through the frame.
Clayton Keller won a puck along the boards and sent a pass to Carpenter, who fired a one-timer from the right circle to beat Wall on his glove side.
“I was just trying to get in the open area. Keller sees the ice so well, and he slid it out,” Carpenter said. “My linemates worked really hard and were moving the puck.”
Moments later, the same line came through once again. This time, it was Keller who slipped his way past Riverhawk defenders and sent a backhand over Wall to extend the lead to 3-1.
“He’s a difference-maker,” Oettinger said. “It goes to show why he was such a high pick and why he’s going to have such a long career in the NHL.”
The game marked the 13th consecutive contest in which Keller has scored a point.
Trailing 3-1 with just over three minutes remaining, the Riverhawks would not go away. C.J. Smith dangled through the BU defense and sent a backhand past Oettinger to make it 3-2. Then, a penalty on Jordan Greenway gave Lowell a man advantage in the final minutes.
However, the Terrier penalty kill came up strong and held off the Lowell attack to preserve the win. Carpenter added the exclamation point with an empty-net goal in the final minute to make the final score 4-2.
Quinn credited the penalty kill for holding the Lowell power play unit, which ranks second in the nation, to just one goal on six attempts. Overall, he said was pleased with how his team responded to a whirlwind week.
“I felt like Dr. Phil these last couple of days,” Quinn said. “I put the white coat on, dug deep, and we figured out as a group what we needed to get accomplished.”
While the Terriers will likely lose their No. 1 ranking when the new USCHO.com poll is released Monday, the win Saturday night kept them entrenched in the number two spot in the Hockey East standings.
“It’s the ebbs and flows of a hockey season. It’s long, and they’re 18 to 22 years old, but I just liked how we bounced back,” Quinn said. “We weren’t in a great place mentally before this game started, and I give our guys a lot of credit for being mentally tough enough to hang in there and play their best.”
The Terriers will next be in action when they hit the ice for a matchup with UMass on Feb. 3. Puck drop is set for 7:30 p.m. inside Agganis Arena.