BOSTON -- It is safe to say Boston University is happy to have Matt Grzelcyk back.
The Terriers' senior captain scored his first collegiate hat trick in just his second game back from a leg injury, leading a balanced offensive attack in a 7-2 win over UMass on Saturday night at Agganis Arena.
Grzelcyk's three-goal outburst came naturally with a pair of goals in the later stages of the second period and one just 18 seconds into the third. He is the first BU defenseman to net a hat trick since Ryan Whitney and Kevin Schaeffer recorded three goals apiece in the same game, a 7-2 win over Yale on Nov. 30, 2003.
"I think anyone sitting out with injuries is frustrated just watching, so just being out there is good enough for me," said Grzelcyk, who has now scored six goals in just eight games this season. "I think maybe I'm just getting my bounces. ... I have to give a lot of credit to my teammates, not only for finding me but also distracting the goalie out front."
Freshmen Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson and Bobo Carpenter were two of four BU players to register two-point nights. Charlie McAvoy, Grzelcyk's defense partner, finished the night with a plus-4 rating.
BU head coach David Quinn saw his team benefit from a lot of puck luck, and most importantly, got better as the game went on.
"You don't get many nights in this league when the puck jumps in for us the way it did tonight," Quinn said. "We got some puck luck, but I also thought we made some plays and I thought we got better as the game went on. ... I thought we really started buckling down and doing a much better job of managing the puck, playing and doing a better job in our end."
BU is now 11-6-3 on the season and 5-3-2 in Hockey East games. The Terriers are on a three-game win streak for the second time this season and has recorded points in five of their last six league outings.
The Minutemen actually got the scoring going just 2:50 into the contest as former Catholic Memorial standout Shane Walsh made his many family members and friends in attendance happy with a rebound goal from the low slot.
The West Roxbury, Mass., native followed up junior linemate Steven Iacobellis' shot and beat BU senior Sean Maguire back down to the ice for his team-leading 14th goal of the season.
BU remained in the game for the duration of the first period, holding a 10-9 shots on goal advantage and tying the game at 17:54. Freshman Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson scored his fifth of the season, banking a loose puck off UMass goaltender Alex Wakaluk's skate and just over the goal line.
"It was a little bit of a lucky bounce, I think," said Forsbacka Karlsson, a Boston Bruins prospect like Grzelcyk. "I think (Ryan Cloonan) got the puck on the side there and he fired it off. It bounced off the board, and I just tried to hit the goalie in the back."
Offense dominated the second period as the teams combined for 31 shots on goal, but the Terriers emerged in the lead by a pair of goals to take command of the game for good.
Carpenter lifted the Terriers for the first time in the game to open the period's scoring, collecting a loose puck for a backhanded rebound at the 12:09 marker.
Sophomore Nikolas Olsson provided the primary help on Carpenter's fifth goal of the season, marking his first point since returning from a three-game absence in time for Thursday night's 6-5 win at Harvard.
"It was a pretty good college hockey game there for about 13 minutes," UMass head coach John Micheletto said. "Obviously, we've seen that we can't let this team get away from us because they can score them in bunches, and that's what happened."
UMass junior Steven Iacobellis evened the game at 2-2 just a minute later, slamming home his third goal this year. Linemate Ray Pigozzi put the initial puck on net that led to the goal, capping off an excellent shift from the top Minuteman unit.
The story of the rest of the night was Grzelcyk. Just 20 seconds after Iacobellis tied the game, the Charlestown native put BU back up with a shot from the point that beat Wakaluk through a heavy screen in front.
The stretch of three goals in 80 seconds concluded with Grzelcyk's second of the night ― another hard shot, this time from the left point ― at 13:29.
Grzelcyk completed his trio early on in a third period in which the Terriers surrendered just five shots on goal, but only had two themselves by its midway mark. To register the hat trick, Grzelcyk stopped at the center point and fired a shot on net off senior Danny O'Regan's second consecutive assist.
"Grizzy just gets it away quickly," Quinn said of his senior captain. "He's got pace to it, he shoots it hard, he has a quick release. ... He's got six goals in eight games, and he's worked hard for it too. It isn't something that's happened overnight. I'm just really happy for him."
Junior Robbie Baillargeon picked his spot nicely on Wakaluk's short side at 13:07, rushing down the wing and placing home a wrister for his fourth goal of the season.
Rookie Jordan Greenway finished off the scoring with BU's first shorthanded goal this season at 18:10, taking defenseman John MacLeod's feed ahead for a breakaway goal. The goal also marked the first UMass allowed while a man down.