Flash Before Your Eyes: BU's Outburst Assures Title Bid
by Scott McLaughlin/CHN Reporter
BOSTON For the first two periods of Friday’s Hockey East semifinal game against Boston College, the Boston University Terriers looked like the same team that sleep-walked its way to a 3-1 defeat at the hands of Vermont a year ago to end the 2007-08 season.
But time and again this season, BU has shown that it's not the same team as it's been in recent years. And unlike last year, when BU never woke up to get back in the game, this year’s version of the Terriers came roaring back to life with three goals in 44 seconds (the quickest three goals ever scored in the Hockey East Tournament) midway through the third period, and held on for the 3-2 victory to advance to Saturday night’s title game.
“I don’t know what was going on the first two periods to tell you the truth,” BU coach Jack Parker said. “I didn’t think it was a usual BU-BC game. It was a little too close-checking. It was really conservative. There didn’t seem to be a lot of emotion. There didn’t seem to be a lot of hits. And then they scored late in the second . . . and they looked like they were in pretty good shape because we weren’t doing a lot. We were generating some offense, but we weren’t doing a lot with it.
“I thought we started right off the bat in the third period and went after it a little bit, had some opportunities. And then three goals in a New York minute, as they say, was something I had never seen before.”
The momentum started to build in BU’s favor when it killed off three Eagle power plays in a span of 8:09 at the end of the second and beginning of the third. It finally reached its climax at 11:01 of the third period when a great individual effort by Zach Cohen tied the score at one.
The junior forward gathered a loose puck in the left corner, muscled his way to the front of the net against two BC defenders and used his long reach to beat sophomore netminder John Muse with a backhander into the far side of the net.
Twenty-one seconds later, senior forward and co-captain John McCarthy battled along the left boards and worked the puck back to junior defenseman Brian Strait, who was playing in his first game back after missing five games with a knee injury. Strait fired a wrist shot that found its way through a screen and into the top corner to give BU a 2-1 lead.
While everyone in the building was still in awe at how quickly the game had changed, sophomore forward and Hobey Baker finalist Colin Wilson made it 3-1 when he came out of the right corner and slid a shot past Muse’s right skate. The goal was Wilson’s 50th point of the season, making him the first Terrier to record 50 points in a season since Chris Drury in 1997-98.
“Before the third, [senior co-captain] Johnny [McCarthy] and Straity and myself and the seniors kind of got in each other’s faces and everyone started to chat in the locker room,” senior co-captain Matt Gilroy said. “We just came out, we killed a penalty and started rolling. I mean, Zach had an unbelievable effort out of the corner. He’s been doing it all year for us and it’s great to see him score. And then to see Straity get a goal. He’s hurt, he comes back and gets a goal like that. And then Willy comes right out the next shift.
“That’s what we can do if we’re playing the right way and we’re playing hard. We have the offensive power to do that. It was a lot of fun in the third period.”
It should come as no surprise, though, that a Jerry York-coached team refused to roll over and play dead in a postseason game. His Eagles responded two-and-a-half minutes after BU’s trifecta of goals when sophomore forward Joe Whitney tipped home a slapper from the point off the stick of senior defenseman Anthony Aiello.
BC kept the pressure on and had its best chance to tie the game with 2:30 to go. Junior forward Ben Smith, who netted the Eagles’ first goal, stormed down the right wing and fired a snap shot that appeared to have goalie Kieran Millan beat five-hole. But the Hockey East Rookie of the Year, who made outstanding save after outstanding save all game, closed his pads at the last second and held on as BC jammed his pads, trying to knock the puck loose.
“I think the kid made a fabulous save on Ben Smith,” York said. “It looked from the bench that the five-hole was open. It was a 3-on-2 rush where our center drives. Smitty got off the shot, and from our bench it looked like it was going right in the net, so he must’ve just covered it as he dropped down to the butterfly. That was a big, big save. Otherwise, it’s a 3-3 game there.”