New York -- Defensemen Garrett Noonan and Patrick MacGregor were the only players in the Boston University lineup on Saturday night that had played in the previous Red Hot Hockey game on November 26, 2011.
That is what made first year head coach David Quinn even more pleased about his team's 3-2 victory over Cornell on Saturday night at a sold-out Madison Square Garden.
"I've been coaching 20 years now and I don't know if I've ever been prouder of a group of guys. They just refused to lose tonight. We found a way to get it done," said Quinn. "It feels good to win a game of this magnitude in this environment."
"We had only [two] guys who had ever played in this game before which is really unbelievably if you think about it. The game happens every two years and we got 17 new guys who had never played in a game like this," said Quinn.
The Terriers didn't necessarily play well the entire game, but they were able to do just enough to win to stay undefeated in Red Hot Hockey history. BU is now 3-0-1 in the series that dates back to 2007.
"The way our guys competed tonight, blocking shots and great sticks [in lanes]. We just found a way to get it done against a well-coached team," said Quinn. "I think a month ago we lose this game," he added.
Cornell outshot Boston University 39-11 due to being able to maintain possession for long stretches of time. "I don't know if we'll play a team with as contrasting a style compared to ours like Cornell. They're big and strong. We're not a very big team. If we were going to have a chance we needed to play at a pace and hope they wouldn't be able to match it," said Quinn.
Another factor for the discrepancy in shots on goal was the penalties. Boston University was whistled for seven penalties compared to just two for Cornell.
"The penalties really put us in a hole. We all watched what happened. I'm not going to comment on how I felt the game was officiated because I'll get in trouble. That comment itself should probably give you an idea. [The players] know I never say anything about the referees. It's always their fault," said Quinn.
For the second straight contest BU sophomore goaltender Matt O'Connor had to make a lot of saves and keep the team in the game. "Our best [penalty] killer was our goaltender obviously. Everybody knows in hockey if you kill penalties you better have a good goalie and we do," said Quinn.
Mike Moran gave the Terriers the first lead of the game when he tipped in a feed from Danny O'Regan with 2:10 to play in the first period. On a broken play and with a Cornell defender down O'Regan turned around from the top of the circle to the left goalmouth where Moran was there to just easily tip it in.
Robbie Baillargeon and Evan Rodrigues connected on a give-and-go on a transition play at the 14:38 mark of the second period to extend the BU lead to 2-0. Baillargeon passed the puck to his right to Rodrigues as the pair was crossing the blue line. Rodrigues skated down to the right of the net before centering the puck back to Baillargeon who just put his stick on it at the top of the crease.
Nick Roberto gave the Terriers a three-goal cushion just 2:44 into the third period when he banged in a pass from Kevin Duane on the man advantage. Matt Grzelcyk also assisted on the power play tally.
Christian Hilbrich finally put Cornell on the board when a centering feed from Brian Ferlin struck his skate inadvertently and deflected into the back of the net at the 4:05 mark of the third period. Ferlin, a Boston Bruins prospect, had raced down the left side before whipping the puck towards the net.
Cole Bardreau finished off a nice pass from John McCarron right at the doorstep to cut the Boston University lead to just one goal with 3:40 to play in the game.
With their goaltender pulled for an extra attacker and up a man due to a penalty to Matt Grzelcyk the Big Red had some chances, but could not bury the puck past O'Connor for the equalizer.
"The atmosphere was unbelievable tonight. Right away in warm-ups it was loud. The national anthem was amazing. It was a dream come true playing here, especially as a freshman," said Roberto.
"What a game," reflected Quinn after the final buzzer. The Terriers (7-6-1) have a four game unbeaten streak heading into next weekend's home-and-home series with Merrimack.
Cornell (7-4-1) will face ECAC rival Colgate for a solo contest at Lynah Rink next Saturday at 7 p.m.
Jeff Cox covers college and junior hockey, NCAA recruiting, NHL Draft prospects and the AHL for SBNation. Follow him on twitter @JeffCoxSBNation.