BOSTON -- With close to a month before returning to action, Boston University would have to live with the results of Tuesday night’s game against Yale for a long time.
The Terriers came up with almost all the offense it would need in the first period, scoring two goals and putting 22 shots on net en route to a 5-2 win over the Bulldogs in the final game of the 2016 calendar year at Agganis Arena.
Sophomore defenseman Shane Switzer, playing in just his ninth collegiate game, scored his first two goals as a Terrier as BU earned its tenth win before the halfway mark for the fourth time in the last six seasons. It’s a strong place to be, but there is plenty of hockey ahead.
“It was not an easy night by any stretch of the imagination, and we knew that,” BU head coach David Quinn said. “It feels really good. … You look at the first half, 10-5-2 and 4-2-2 in the league, and we just moved to No. 4 in the (PairWise Rankings). It was a really good first half, but we feel our best hockey is ahead of us.”
BU took a 2-0 lead into the first intermission and opened the game on a four-goal run before the visitors would solve freshman Jake Oettinger, who made 28 saves in his eighth win of the season.
Thirteen of Oettinger’s saves came in a first period over which the Terriers placed a remarkable 22 of their 26 total shot attempts on goal. It was BU’s best offensive period of the season, but the fourth in which it posted 15 or more shots on net.
“We want that to be our identity, without question,” Quinn said. “We want to hound the puck, we want to make life miserable for our opponent whether it be hounding the puck or when we have it getting to the net and being hard to defend. … I don’t think we did it consistently enough, but if you look at that short chart in the first period, we were around their night quite a bit.”
Sophomore Charlie McAvoy got the scoring going with his second goal of the season at the 10:03 mark. Classmate Jordan Greenway’s shot from atop the right circle sailed through traffic, bounced off McAvoy and dribbled over the goal line past Yale’s Sam Tucker.
Switzer’s first collegiate goal came at 18:51 as sophomore Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson whistled a pass from the corner right into the center of the slot for an easy tap-in finish.
“That was a great feed by Jakob,” Switzer said. “I wasn’t sure he was going to get it to me and I was just able to put it in.”
“I thought about eight minutes into the first, we started to play with a pace and had some offensive zone time,” Quinn said. “We did a good job going to the net in the first period, using the back of the net offensively.”
BU continued the onslaught just 59 seconds into the middle frame as freshman Clayton Keller controlled a puck in the circle and centered it to sophomore Bobo Carpenter for a redirection in the slot, his fourth goal of the season.
Switzer added to his career night and increased BU’s lead to four exactly two minutes later, weaving a wrister through traffic after Oskar Andren sent the puck back to the top of the right circle.
“We always have tough decisions. We think we’ve got guys who can play who maybe haven’t played a lot of hockey,” Quinn said following Switzer’s outburst. “We’ve always liked Shane as a player and think we’ve got depth on the blue line, so I think we proved it tonight. He’s a great kid and works hard.”
The Terriers were well in control after Switzer’s second goal, but “human nature took over” ― as Quinn described ― when Yale’s John Hayden cut into his team’s deficit with a shot that beat Oettinger high at 6:39 of the second, just after a power play expired.
Keller responded with the game’s lone power play goal at 15:30, finishing Forsbacka Karlsson’s second primary feed. This contest was Keller’s first three-point game at BU as he finished with a goal and two assists.
The visitors had chances to bring the game even closer in the second as senior Frankie DiChiara and sophomore Joe Snively both hit pipes. Snively’s try came on a shorthanded breakaway with less than seven minutes to play.
“Jake’s a really good goaltender, and I thought he looked really good tonight,” Yale head coach Keith Allain said. “We hit a couple posts on him in the second period, but two goals doesn’t get it done most nights.
“(BU poses) several different challenges. You’ve got some guys with pure speed and skill, and then you’ve got the big guys who muscle their way to the net. You saw tonight that we had trouble with both aspects of their forwards. They’re a really good group.”
Yale held a 9-7 shooting advantage in the third period, and junior Ryan Hitchcock scored the frame’s lone goal at 3:42 as he took Chandler Lindstrand’s feed to the left side for his first goal of the season on a wrist shot.