By Conor Ryan/DFP Staff
It certainly wasn’t the weekend that the Boston University men’s hockey team wanted, as the Terriers only earned one out of a possible four points during a home-and-home series with Merrimack College.
The weekend series was capped by a 1-1 tie Saturday night at Agganis Arena, as the Terriers (7-7-2, 2-4-1 Hockey East), in what has been a recurring theme this season, struggled with getting shots on the Warriors’ (4-9-2, 1-5-2 Hockey East) net.
Here’s a look at what went right and what went wrong Saturday night.
O’Connor comes up big once again
Making his sixth straight start in net Saturday, sophomore goaltender Matt O’Connor was great between the pipes for the Terriers. The Toronto native finished the game with 38 saves while only surrendering one goal off of a deflection from Merrimack freshman Chris LeBlanc 5:53 into the second period.
Over his last five games, O’Connor has averaged 38.8 saves per game, including a career-high 55 saves against then-No. 14/15 University of North Dakota on Nov. 23.
“I know I sound like a broken record, but he is obviously poised, he is confident, he doesn’t get rattled, he doesn’t waste movement, he is square to the puck, he is aggressive,” said BU coach David Quinn. “Thank god he is our goalie, because he makes life difficult for the other team.”
Rodrigues finds the back of the net
The Terriers got off to a fast start in Saturday’s contest, as junior forward Evan Rodrigues got BU on the board just 1:47 into the game.
After receiving the puck from freshman forward Robbie Baillargeon, Rodrigues skated into the left circle before firing the puck past Merrimack netminder Rasmus Tirronen’s blocker side for the score.
It was Rodrigues’ first goal since the team’s season opener against the University of Massachusetts-Amherst on Oct. 11.
“He is becoming a more well-rounded player,” Quinn said. “It was good to see him get rewarded for all of the hard work he has put in over the last month. And again, we are going to need him to be effective.”
Grzelcyk spurs Terrier offense
While he did not record any points in the game, sophomore defenseman Matt Grzelcyk was a constant presence offensively for the Terriers, leading all players with eight shots on net.
Grzelcyk had a great opportunity to end the game in overtime, as the Charlestown native nearly beat Tirronen with a wraparound attempt just a little over a minute into the extra stanza.
“He just skated,” Quinn said. “He is a world-class skater and he is tough to contain. He is strong and he competes and he just took charge.”
BU finishes strong
While the Terrier offense looked downright anemic over the first two periods, the team showed some signs of life in both the third period and overtime, recording 16 shots during the final 25 minutes of play.
“I like the way we kind of rebounded and found our way after the first two periods,” Quinn said. “For us, we had a little bit of life after we killed the penalty. I don’t know if I’ve seen us that flat and that emotionless as we were in the first 35, 36 minutes of the hockey game, then after we killed the penalty I thought we gained a little bit of life, our power play had a little bit of life.”
Terriers struggle with shot totals
Despite capitalizing less than two minutes into the game with a goal from Rodrigues, the Terriers once again struggled with getting the puck on net, as BU only managed eight shots through the first two periods. Going into the third period, the Warriors were outshooting the Terriers by a 27-8 margin.
This is not the first time that the Terriers have struggled with getting good looks at the net. In their previous two games against Merrimack (Dec. 6) and Cornell University (Nov. 30), the Terriers posted just 30 combined shots.
“Sometimes … you have to make the most of how you can play and how you can have success, and we’re still trying to find a way to do it,” Quinn said. “We’re not a big, strong team, and that’s a big, strong, older team, and we’re going to have problems with those teams.
“We’ve got to manage the puck a little bit better, we’ve got to play at a pace, we’ve got to make them uncomfortable — and we certainly didn’t do that for two periods. I thought we did a much better job in the third period and did a much better job in the overtime.”