By Taylor Raglin
BU News Service
Having already clinched an opening-round bye in the 2017 Hockey East playoffs, Friday night’s matchup with No. 13 Notre Dame wasn’t a must-win for the No. 6 BU men’s hockey team on paper.
For the morale of the men on the Terrier bench, however, it may have been a different story. After a strong weekend against New Hampshire following an up-and-down stretch, a 3-1 loss to the Fighting Irish halted the Terriers’ momentum once again.
“I thought we gave them two gifts for goals,” BU head coach David Quinn said. “You just can’t do that in a game of this magnitude.”
The Terriers will now need UMass Lowell to take down Boston College Friday night to stay in the hunt for the Hockey East regular-season title.
Despite the setback, Quinn said he’s confident as his team prepares for the postseason.
“The game doesn’t lie to you. Our guys know how hard they played and how physical they were,” he said. “If we play like that and clean up a few things, good things are going to happen.”
Fighting Irish center Jake Evans opened the scoring nearly halfway through the first, going against the grain on BU goaltender Jake Oettinger. The Terriers punched back late in the frame, getting a redirect goal from Patrick Harper to knot it up heading into the first intermission.
In a back-and-forth middle period, Notre Dame’s Ben Ostlie sent home a rebound at 18:33 to put the Fighting Irish back on top heading into the third. After initially being waved off for goaltender interference, the call on the ice was overturned after it was determined a Notre Dame skater was pushed into Oettinger.
Despite drawing two penalties in the third and leaning hard on netminder Cal Petersen, BU couldn’t find the tying goal. Petersen made 23 of his 37 saves in the frame, none bigger than a glove stop on the Terriers’ Clayton Keller in the waning minutes.
“[Teams get traffic in the crease] when you’ve got a good goaltender,” Notre Dame head coach Jeff Jackson said. “He’s gotten accustomed to it. It’s been a little bit of a process for him to play in that kind of a situation, but he’s gotten stronger over the last couple of years physically, so he can control his crease a lot more effectively.”
With under three minutes to play, a microcosm of the Terriers’ recent struggles played out inside Agganis Arena. Flying down the slot, BU’s Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson shot high over what appeared to be an open net. Shortly after, Notre Dame’s Anders Bjork found Evans at the other end for his second goal of the game.
BU appeared to have life late in the third when the puck trickled past Petersen while he attempted to cover it for a stoppage. However, the referees deemed the whistle to have blown, and the call on the ice of no goal stood. From there, the game devolved into a series of skirmishes in the Fighting Irish captain’s crease, and Notre Dame held on to take the series opener.
The two teams will meet again Saturday night at Agganis Arena. The game, before which BU will honor its three seniors, is set to get underway at 7 p.m.