Ahhh, rivalry games. They are a thing of sheer intensity, trash-talking and an always captivating read in the morning herald. However, the best part of a rivalry is that they they are games where it seems as though statistics and rankings become a second thought and, no matter what the circumstances are, the underdog always seems to have a fighting chance. This, folks, is exactly what we saw Friday night at Conte Forum.
Before the drop of the puck, BC paid homage to Finland’s 100th year of independence by playing the country’s national anthem. While most of the BC crowd stood in respect, and maybe with slight confusion, chills and adrenaline were being sent down three BC’s players backs; Aaepli Rasanen and the Matilla brothers who are all natives of Finland. Thus, it only seemed appropriate that BC’s Aapeli Rasanen was able to start the game off with a spark by netting the first goal of the match two minutes into the game. That was quickly followed up with a second goal from Sophomore Ron Greco. It was a beautiful start, and quickly my early premonitions of this rivalry seemed to not hold true. BC was playing like the #15 team that they were and BU was performing like a team that didn’t belong in the USCHO top 20. Then, the tides gradually began to turn.
BC had its time in the sun, but BU increasingly began to make their way back into the game. Throughout the remainder of the first, it was pure domination by the terriers. Brandon Hickey found the back of the net first for BU, and from that point on the Terrier train kept on rolling. Logan Cockerill rattled one around the inside of the post and was confirmed by the refs as crossing the red line, thus tying the game up. The Eagles wrapped up the period with a sloppy power play performance and basically giving the puck to Brady Tkachuk for a breakaway goal. At the conclusion of the first, BU outshot BC 16-8 and led by one at the first intermission.
The start of the second seemed to have a little bit of deja vu. Three minutes into the period, Ron Greco found his second goal of the game (and season) to tie things back up at three. However, the tie did not hold on for long as BU’s Chad Krys got a wide open look at net and sniped the puck past Joseph Woll to give the lead back to BU. And then, possibly the craziest sequence I have ever seen in my years of watching college hockey occured. BU’s Brandon Hickey was able to get one by Woll while also being penalized. To borrow a colloquial term in the world of basketball, Hickey received an ‘and-1’ opportunity. And boy did BU take advantage. Bob Carpenter was able to score on the power play and give BU their third goal in a span of 2 minutes. The rest of the period consisted of lackadaisical puck movement by BC and a gassed defense. Fortunately, Julius Mattila was able to strike one past Jake Oettinger in the closing minutes to stop the bleeding, but BC headed into the third with a ton of work to do.
BC came out in the final period with tenacity and ferocity as they were able to get their offense moving and eventually take a lead in the shot count margin. However, Jake Oettinger was excellent in net and stopped a multitude of BC breakaway opportunities with sheer athleticism. With Oettinger’s stellar performance in the third, BC is unable to trim BU’s lead any further. With an empty netter caping off the night, the underdog was able to come as away as the victor.
All-in-all this was an extremely poor performance from the Eagles. On the defensive end, BC looked lost and extremely gassed for a majority of the game. Not to mention their PK units were sub-par as BU was able to capitalize on 2-5 power plays. For the first two periods, the offense looked non-existent aside from the two quick goals to start the game. Passes were sloppy, possessions were easily lost and shot selection was extremely poor. Additionally, the power play did not prove beneficial at all for the Eagles. BU came into this game ranked 55th in the nation on the PK with a 74.6% success rate. BC was only able to capitalize once on five opportunities.
While the results did not end in BC’s favor, the rivalry certainly lived up to it’s hype and gave us a game many were not expecting to see. I guess that’s just the power of rivalries.
The Eagles look to redeem themselves tomorrow night for Game #2 at Agganis Arena with puck drop set for 7 PM.