Not Good Enough
Strong Effort for Naught for BU
by Scott McLaughlin/CHN Writer
BOSTON It was in overtime, it was in a championship game and it was against archrival Boston College. Any loss that involved any one of those components would have been tough to swallow for Boston University. The fact that Monday's 3-2 loss in the Beanpot title game involved all three made it extra devastating.
"It's a trifecta there," said BU coach Jack Parker. "That makes it a really, really tough loss."
Still, the Terriers had plenty of reasons to leave TD Garden with their heads held high. They went toe-to-toe with one of the best teams in the country for nearly 80 minutes before Bill Arnold scored with 6.4 seconds left in overtime.
Kieran Millan had a great game in net, stopping 44 of the 47 shots he faced en route to winning the Eberly Award as the tournament leader in save percentage. The power play went 2-for-6 and overcame a sluggish start to generate some great chances as the game went on. In the end, though, the Terriers just happened to end up on the losing end of a great game.
"Obviously it was a hell of a college hockey game," Parker said. "It was a fabulous game to watch, the speed of the game and the effort by both teams. I was really pleased with my team. I loved how hard we competed tonight. ... In general, it was a really well-executed, hard-fought game."
In a league that's wide open and a national field that appears to be wide open, there's no reason to think BU can't compete for more championships down the line. Senior captain Chris Connolly, who is one of six Terriers left over from the 2009 national title team, said games like Monday night, despite the loss, can help prepare BU for tournament games down the line.
"I think you absolutely can," Connolly said when asked if the team can take away any positives. "We definitely took a stride forward in our effort. Those are the types of games you play in March and April."
That said, the Terriers do have plenty to work on. For starters, they're still taking too many penalties. The Terriers have led the country in penalty minutes for most of the season, and they spent 26 minutes in the box Monday night. They held BC to 1-for-7 on the power play, but you have to wonder if they might have been able to win the game had they not been shorthanded seven times.
BU was also without Connolly for 10 minutes from late in the second until midway through the third after he took an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty in a rare moment of hot-headedness. In a game like Monday's when four of the game's five goals came on special teams, BU's inability to stay out of the box was even more pronounced.
"Special teams wins and loses hockey games," Connolly said. "That was a point of emphasis, to try to stay out of the box. Tonight, I think we struggled a little bit in that area and played undisciplined at times. That goes for myself as well. It's an emotional game. You just have to try to not let it get the best of you."
Monday marked the second straight game that penalties have been a contributing factor in a BU loss. On Friday, the Terriers gave Massachusetts six power plays, and the Minutemen were able to capitalize on two of them. Two of the penalties came in the third period while the Terriers trailed by one. Although UMass didn't score on either of those power plays, the penalties certainly hindered the Terriers' comeback efforts.
Another problem BU needs to find a fix for is its inability to win close games as of late. The Terriers have now lost four of their last six games, and all four were either one- or two-goal games that included an empty-netter. Connolly is right that games like Monday night are good preparation for the Hockey East and NCAA tournaments, but the Terriers need to find a way to win those sorts of games.
"Obviously those are the types of games you need to win in March and April," Connolly said. "We have to find a way to bear down and finish our chances."
BU will play two more of those playoff-type games this weekend when it takes on first-place Massachusetts-Lowell in a home-and-home series. Finding a way to win those games could go a long way toward helping the Terriers get back on track in their quest to win the next championship on the horizon — the Hockey East regular-season title.