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Oksanen’s overtime tally lifts Terriers past Denver

BU senior forward Ahti Oksanen lit the lamp just 21 seconds into overtime to help the Terriers skate away with a 5-4 win over Denver.

Oksanen scored his first two goals of the season Saturday against Denver.
Oksanen scored his first two goals of the season Saturday against Denver.

BOSTON — It’s been a frustrating start to the 2015-16 season for No. 7/8 Boston University winger Ahti Oksanen.

Despite pacing the Terriers with 23 shots on goal — as well firing 10 shots, to his recollection, that have clanged off posts— the senior had failed to light the lamp over his team’s first five games this year.

Facing off against No. 5 Denver, Oksanen sure picked a good time to finally find the back of the net.

The Finnish forward scored twice — including just 21 seconds into overtime — to help the Terriers defeat the Pioneers, 5-4, Saturday night at Agganis Arena.

"It’s been really frustrating," Oksanen said of his early-season scoring drought. "To be honest, I haven’t thought about hitting posts the last couple of games. I’ve been worrying about playing well. … Today, a couple goals and an otherwise good overall game — It felt really good."

Oksanen was one of 10 Terriers (3-3, 1-2 Hockey East) to record a point against the Pioneers (3-3), with senior Danny O’Regan and freshman Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson each chipping in with two assists.

Sophomore Connor LaCouvee earned the win in net after stopping 34 shots, while Denver netminders Tanner Jaillet and Evan Crowley combined for 30 saves.

Oksanen’s late-game heroics salvaged what was shaping up to be a disheartening showing for the Terriers — who scuttled a 4-2 lead in the third period after the Pioneers outshot them by a 18-5 margin over the final 20 minutes.

"I think the third period was a microcosm of where we’re at mentally right now," said BU head coach David Quinn. "I don’t know if, right know, we’re really ready to win and put teams away. A big part of that was the way they responded. They were a desperate team going into that third period. …

"I’m proud of our guys that we hung in there, we got out of the period, 4-4, and then Ahti Oksanen finally gets rewarded for the two million pucks he shoots a week. It’s a great win."

It didn’t take long for the Terriers to get on the board, as freshman Ryan Cloonan buried a feed from senior Matt Lane just 1:58 into the first for his third goal of the year.

The Pioneers answered with a wrister goal from junior Will Butcher at 10:50, but the Terriers clawed back into the lead off of junior Robbie Baillargeon’s first tally this season.

Sophomore Brandon Hickey padded BU’s lead in the second, as his backhand shot caromed off of Jaillet and into the cage at 7:09, but Denver cut its deficit back to one off of senior Gabe Levin’s score less than two minutes later.

Oksanen’s first goal of the night — a power-play strike off of a pass through the slot from O’Regan — pushed BU’s lead back to two at 13:42 in the middle stanza.

Denver would not fold in the third, however, as freshman Troy Terry bested LaCouvee at 4:46 before senior Quentin Shore cashed in on a shorthanded bid at 12:07 to knot the game at four goals apiece.

The tilt would move on to overtime, where BU’s only shot of the extra period found its mark. Skating towards the left circle, Oksanen collected the puck from Forsbacka Karlsson before quickly wristing the puck past Cowley to seal the victory.

While multiple players made their mark on the score sheet Saturday, Quinn saved a large amount of praise for LaCouvee, who held his own against a flurry of Denver shots throughout the third period.

The Terriers might not boast an impressive team save percentage (.865) between LaCouvee and senior Sean Maguire, but Quinn acknowledged that he has full confidence in his goalies going forward.

"He certainly did a great job tonight," Quinn said of LaCouvee. "That was a Division-I goaltending performance. … We know that we’re going to get great goaltending.

"I know statistically, it doesn’t look that way right now, but to be 3-3 with the save percentage we have, with two guys I know are really good — that are going to be able to win big games like we did tonight — it’s the least of our concerns."