Their coach's career hanging in the balance, the Boston University Terriers rallied from a 2-0 deficit to bring down arch-rival Boston College, 6-3, in Friday night's second Hockey East semifinal at the TD Garden.
The first period was fairly quiet until BC‘s Bill Arnold scored the first goal of the game to give the Eagles a 1-0 lead with 1:27 to play in the opening stanza. The power play goal was assisted by Steven Whitney and Johnny Gaudreau
BC extended its lead to 2-0 at the 8:46 mark of the second period. Quinn Smith tipped in a shot with an assist from the left side by Pat Mullane.
Down 2-0 in the second period, Evan Rodrigues and Matt Lane scored in a span of 2:04 minutes to tie the game. Rodrigues fired a wrist shot past Boston College senior goaltender Parker Milner at the 12:17 mark of the second period. Shortly after Rodriquez' goal, Lane took advantage of a fortuitous bounce that led to him coming in all alone on Milner. Lane raced down the left side, then cut into the middle where he backhanded the puck past the BC goaltender.
The momentum had clearly swung in Boston University's favor. Boston College Associate Head Coaches Mike Cavanaugh and Greg Brown could feel the momentum shifting. The two associate head coaches were leading their team in Jerry York's absence due to a medical issue. "When they scored that first goal, they got energized," said Cavanaugh. "Their bench got a huge lift after that Rodrigues goal," added Brown.
Boston University took the lead with 2:01 to play in the period when Garrett Noonan blasted a one-timer past Milner. The power play goal was set up with a nice feed from the point by freshman Matt Grzelcyk, a Bruins draft pick.
The last eight minutes of the second period were certainly a disappointing stretch for BC. "I thought the first 30-35 minutes we played as good as we played all year long. Then they scored and got some energy," said Cavanaugh."
The third period got off to an ominous start for the Eagles when their star player, Hobey Baker Award finalist Johnny Gaudreau, was whistled with a five-minute major for cross-checking. BU freshman Danny O'Regan would fire a turn-around wrister past Milner to give the Terriers a two-goal cushion just 34 seconds into the man-advantage.
Almost as soon as the Eagles finished killing off Gaudreau's major, another of their star players, Steven Whitney, was sent to the box for high-sticking. O'Regan would strike again with Ryan Santana and Matt Nieto being credited for the helpers. This goal capped off a run of three straight power play tallies for BU. It was also the fifth of five unanswered goals.
"We didn't kill penalties well. Some of our guys got tired," said Cavanaugh. BU Coach Jack Parker credited his special teams to being a key to the victory.
BC's Steven Whitney cut the lead to two goals at the 13:43 mark, but that was as close as the Eagles would come. Rodrigues added his second goal of the night with the BC empty net to seal the deal.
Lost in the offensive explosion was the importance of freshman goaltender Sean Maguire to the Terriers win. The Pittsburgh Penguins draft pick stopped 44 of 47 shots he faced, including 29 of 31 in the first two periods.
It was not the best night for BC senior goaltender Parker Milner. The Pittsburgh, Pa. native let in five goals on just 26 shots faced.
Boston University prolonged the career of its legendary head coach for at least one more day. BU will face UMass-Lowell in the Hockey East Finals Saturday night at 7p.m. The Terriers being on the wrong side of the Pairwise Rankings bubble, the only way Jack Parker's team will make the NCAA Tournament is by earning the conference's automatic bid through a win in the championship game Saturday.
The loss ended a 14-game unbeaten streak at the TD Garden for the Eagles. Boston College will still earn a high seed in the NCAA Tournament that begins next weekend. With the talent BC posses, no one should count the Eagles out. "If we can play like we did those first 30 minutes, I like the way we're going into the regionals," said a positive Cavanaugh.
Jeff Cox covers college hockey for SBNation. Follow him on twitter @JeffCoxSBNation.