Boston, Mass. -- Faced with the difficult task of playing a weekend series on the road at Agganis Arena, North Dakota entered Friday night's game playing a physical brand of hockey, and trying to set the tone for the first of two games.
But the visitors couldn't toe the line between physicality and discipline, and an oft-penalized North Dakota team fell to Boston University 3-0.
"Killing a lot of penalties, obviously when you're starting to build momentum, getting offensive zone time, you take a penalty, and it puts you back on your heels," said North Dakota forward Rocco Grimaldi. "You have to play defense for a couple of minutes, it kind of kills the momentum and the energy we started to get."
While the 5-on-5 play was pretty even, the Terriers were able to capitalize on their special teams opportunities, cashing in twice on the power play, and simply keeping the puck out of their own zone when North Dakota was shorthanded.
"It goes right back to the first period, I thought we had a real good first seven, eight minutes, and then we spent the last half of the period killing penalties," said North Dakota head coach Dave Hakstol. "We had to attempt to kill the first five or six minor penalties in a row, and you're spending energy killing and trying to play defense, rather putting that energy into getting on our toes and playing on the offensive side of the puck."
The games first goal was the only one to come at even strength for the Terriers. After winning a faceoff in its own zone, BU broke out on a nice two-line pass from Matt Lane to Cason Hohmann played off the boards. Skating in on a 2-on-1, Hohmann held the puck, before depositing it on the short-side past the stick of Clark Saunders.
"It was a great play by Matt," said BU head coach David Quinn. "He read the situation, he protects the puck a little bit, finds a whole, gets it by him, and it led to a 2-on-1.
"Matt needs to continue to improve. The way he can skate, he's a guy people should be hauling down, drawing penalties, because he's fast."
Hohmann, who recorded his first goal in his last eight games, was injured a few minutes later when he was run into by Wade Murphy, after which he did not return. After the game, Quinn said Hohmann will be out "a while" with a shoulder injury that Quinn said has been a recurring problem for the junior forward all season, but that he liked his team's response.
"For us to lose him like that, and for us to kind of patchwork our lines together, and respond the way we did, I was pleased," he said.
The Terriers second goal of the game came with a man advantage. After some nice puck movement, the play shifted to the front of the net, where it looked like Saunders had it covered. But still loose, Danny O'Regan was able to stuff it home, and double BU's advantage.
"A lot of good things," Quinn said of this power play. "Two for seven; I'll take that all day long."
BU added an insurance marker in the third, again on the power play. A Matt Grzelcyk point shot was deflected by Nick Roberto, and with the rebound sitting below the dots, Kevin Duane was able to flip it past Saunders.
"For the most part, I'm just trying to take away the goalies eyes, and just make sure that Grzelcyk and [Robbie Baillargeon] get good shots from the point that get through," Duane said. "The last few games, I've been able to find the rebound and get a goal out of it."
Quinn said Duane is beginning to find a home in front of the net on the power play.
"He's got great reach, obviously," Quinn said. "He does a great job screening the goalie, quick in small areas, understands what his role is, and he's been great for us."
The visitors still did manage 37 shots on goal, forcing Matt O'Connor to make a number of difficult stops.
North Dakota finally broke through with 2:37 remaining, when a Grimaldi shot found its way under the glove of O'Connor. The visitors would pull their goalie and apply pressure to BU late, but couldn't muster anything else, and fell in the opening game of the series.
"Every weekend, you're looking for a sweep; you're looking for two wins," said Grimaldi. "We haven'd had one of those yet, we've gotten swept, we've split a lot of games, we tied, and that's frustrating."
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