Friday, October 28, 2011

UPDATED: BU mounts comeback, ties UMass 2-2

By Tim Healey/DFP Staff

AMHERST -- Possibly in celebration of the all-important “Halloweekend,” the Boston University men’s hockey team wore both of its costumes tonight in a 2-2 with University of Massachusetts.

The Terriers (2-2-1, 1-1-1 Hockey Easy) ditched their careless outfits in favor of their effortful ones after falling falling behind 2-0 in the first half against the Minutemen (1-2-2, 0-1-2 Hockey East), coming back to salvage the conference road matchup, thanks in large part to senior goaltender Kieran Millan (33 saves) and sophomore forward Matt Nieto (one goal, one assist).

“I thought our goaltender played great,” said BU coach Jack Parker. “I thought he stole the point for us.”

But the first step to a comeback is, of course, falling behind, and the Terriers checked off that prerequisite early on.

Just 37 seconds after having their first goal called back – UMass forward Michael Pereira took advantage of a rebound, but he was ruled in the crease – the Minutemen netted another to take a 1-0 lead. Forward T.J. Syner netted no-doubter into the net vacated senior goaltender Kieran Millan, who has just stopped the initial shot.

It was the result of a relatively uneventful and unimpressive period for the Terriers, who failed to capitalize on both of their power plays and consistently dumped pucks without chasing. BU also had a problem with faceoffs, winning six of 16, which foreshadowed their 26-for-56 performance on the night.

BU came out without much energy again in the second stanza, performing at a level that yielded more turnovers, faceoff losses and slow transitions.

The poor Terrier play opened the door for UMass to extend its lead to 2-0 on a goal from UMass forward Conor Sheary. Defenseman Max Nicastro did the Minutemen a favor when he attempted to block the shot but missed, taking himself out of the play. Sheary capitalized after a pass from forward Rocco Carzo, promptly putting the puck in the top right corner at 6:08.

The Terriers picked up their game a bit in the last five minutes of the period, with Nieto cashing in on an assist from sophomore forward Charlie Coyle during one of BU’s only odd-man-rushes of the night. The goal was Nieto’s fifth in as many games, and was the first half of a comeback to be completed in the third.

“They turned the puck over in our own end and Coyle made a good heads up play and got me the puck,” Nieto said. “Me and Noonan had a 2-on-1 and he drove the net which gave me a little more time and space, and I found five-hole so it was a good goal.”

Nieto’s night wasn’t over yet, as he helped tie the game at 5:16 in the third by assisting sophomore forward Sahir Gill’s goal. Gill knocked it past UMass goaltender Kevin Boyle, who ended up on his stomach in the crease. Coyle was also credited with an assist, his second of the night and seventh of the season.

The teams remained tied through the end of regulation despite several chances on both sides, a trend that continued in overtime.

Less than a minute in, Gill centered a pass right in front of the UMass goal, but no Terrier was there to put it in. BU controlled play for the first three minutes of the extra time, with UMass getting most of their chances later on.

Parker took a timeout at 4:42 in OT, but not to draw up a play. He just wanted to give his best line – a two-line combination of Gill, Coyle and Nieto – a breather and a chance to regroup before the final stretch.

It didn’t work.

“I wanted one little play to see if we couldn’t chip a puck free to get going,” Parker said, “and then in the end of it, with six seconds left, we got the puck inside our blue line. We’re not going to be able to get a goal with six seconds left from their end. Then we turned the puck over trying to make a play to get [UMass] an unbelievable opportunity.

“[UMass] just flopped on the opportunity.”

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