By Scott McLaughlin/DFP Staff
Really, this is a tale of two halves. In the first half of the game, BU couldn't do anything on offense. A lot of that had to with the fact that taking penalties didn't allow the Terriers to get into any sort of flow, but they also looked disjointed and jumpy with the puck on rushes. When they did get into the zone, they struggled to cycle the puck or set anything up. But after they stopped taking so many penalties -- BU took seven in the first 30 minutes and just two in the last 30 -- the offense settled down and started creating chances, including Chris Connolly's power-play goal late in the period. That momentum carried over to the third, as the Terriers outshot Maine 14-9 in the frame and registered 12 grade-A chances -- three more than they had in the first two periods combined. That pressure culminated with Charlie Coyle's tying tally with 1:21 left in the game.
On paper, giving up 36 shots does not look good. But when you take into account the fact that Maine had six power plays, including two extended 5-on-3s, and that most of the shots were from the perimeter, the BU defense actually did a pretty good job. Only 15 of Maine's 73 attempted shots came from grade-A areas. Additionally, the Terrier D was able to block an astounding 26 shots, including five in overtime alone. It kind of feels like beating a dead horse, but it's worth repeating that this is what the new zone defense does. It lets the opponent get time in the offensive zone and it lets them shoot, but those shots are going to be from the outside and there are going to be bodies in the way. Holding the fifth-ranked offense in the country to two goals is no small feat.
BU coach Jack Parker said that Kieran Millan was his team's No. 1 star, and that may be so, but it was far from the junior netminder's best game. He was great in the first half of the game while the offense was struggling and the team was taking penalties, but in the third, he looked a little unsure of himself. Both of Maine's goals were results of either poor rebound control or him mishandling the puck, and there were several other shots that either tied him up or produced juicy rebounds. No question BU loses this game if Millan doesn't make some big stops in the early going, but he came back to earth a bit later in the game.
Special Teams: A-
The Terriers held the best power play in the conference to 0-for-6. Included in that were two 5-on-3s that were 50 seconds or longer. Parker said that was the "most striking" part of the game. He said Maine's power play was something they discussed ad nauseum this week, and all that preparation paid big dividends. In a microcosm of the defense as a whole, BU forced the Black Bears to settle for long shots and did a great job getting in passing and shooting lanes. On the flip side of special teams, the Terriers went 1-for-6 on their own power plays -- snapping an 0-for-15 power-play slump in the process -- and also scored an extra attacker goal. The power play wasn't great, but winning a special teams battle against Maine was.
X-Factor: Chris Connolly
The junior co-captain and team's leading scorer, who now has three goals and two assists in his last three games, was everywhere. To start with the obvious, he scored the game's first goal when he took a nice pass from sophomore Alex Chiasson and roofed it from the left circle. Then he earned an assist by helping to set up the tying goal. Connolly set up a number of other good chances throughout the game, too. But beyond the offense, Connolly also played a great game in his own zone. He consistently hustled on the back check and was a big part of BU's 26 shot blocks. Twice on the 5-on-3s, he picked off a pass and cleared it down the river.