BOSTON -- With seven of its players playing for gold at the World Junior Championship in Montreal, Boston University was left shorthanded for Thursday night’s key non-conference contest with Union at Agganis Arena.
Dressing one player short of a regular lineup, the Terriers’ remaining stars played like stars.
Sophomore Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson scored his first collegiate hat trick to lift the Terriers to a 5-4 win, including the game’s final two goals ― the equalizer with 2:54 remaining in regulation and the clincher for BU’s 11th victory of the season at the 2:51 mark of overtime.
“I’m so proud of our effort and mental toughness,” BU head coach David Quinn said after his team improved to 11-5-2 on the season and 5-0-0 against the ECAC. “It was just an incredible feel-good win against a good hockey team.”
The shorthanded Terriers jumped out to an early 2-0 lead, scoring twice in the first nine minutes while registering 11 of the game’s first 13 shots on goal.
Sophomore defenseman Shane Switzer got the scoring going at the 3:10 mark and just 12 seconds into BU’s first power play of the game. Off a feed from Brien Diffley, Switzer fired a shot from a step inside the center blue line that bounced through traffic and past Union senior Alex Sakellaropoulos.
Forsbacka Karlsson doubled the Terriers’ advantage at 8:51, finishing sophomore classmate Bobo Carpenter’s centering feed with a wrister after he drove the center of the ice.
“When we got up 2-0, I thought human nature kicked in a little bit,” Quinn said. “I don’t know how we thought it was going to be easy, but they really came back and stormed us, dominated the second period, but we were still hanging around.”
After falling into a two-goal hole, the Dutchmen came alive. They dominated the second half of the period as second-liners Luc Brown and Cole Maier each beat BU sophomore Connor LaCouvee to tie the game at 2-2.
At 13:57, Brown was camped out just outside the bottom of the right circle and tipped home junior defenseman Nick DeSimone’s shot from the point for the third goal of his freshman season.
Sophomore Cole Maier knotted the score for the visitors from a similar spot on the right side at 17:05, finishing off a bouncing puck with a backhand shot past LaCouvee after following up classmate Brett Supinski’s shot at the bottom of the circle.
“I obviously didn’t have our guys ready to go for the start of the game,” Union head coach Rick Bennett said. “I think the first ten minutes might have cost us … (but) once we corrected our mistakes, we kind of took over. The second part of the first period was good, and I thought our second period was excellent, one of our better periods this year.”
The Dutchmen took their first lead of the game 7:54 into the second period as sophomore Sebastian Vidmar capped off a three-goal run less than ten seconds into their first power-play chance of the contest, banging home linemate Spencer Foo’s shot from the slot.
Carpenter got into the goal scoring column himself to knot the score at 3-3 at the 11:13 mark, forcing Union defenseman Vas Kolias and then lifting the puck over the senior goaltender’s blocker side for his fifth goal of the season.
The visitors took a 4-3 lead into the second intermission as Supinski added their second man-up goal of the frame at 15:52, capping off a brilliant passing sequence with a one-timer from Vidmar and Saugus, Mass., native senior Mike Vecchione.
After Union was dominant in the middle frame to the tune of a 20-6 shots advantage, BU took back the pace of play in the third ― and Forsbacka Karlsson snapped off his second goal of the game from the top of the left circle, off the post and past Sakellaropoulos.
“People talk about (Jakob) being a special player and he certainly showed why tonight,” Quinn added. “You need your best players to be your best players if you want to have a chance to win, and he was our best player tonight.”
Then, BU notched three of the four combined shots on goal in overtime with Forsbacka Karlsson pouncing on a loose puck at the left crease.
Carpenter picked up his second assist and third point of the contest on its final play, winning the draw that led directly to the sophomore Bruins prospect’s sixth goal of the season.
“I had it in the offensive zone coming up towards the blue line, and I think it was (Brandon) Hickey who set a pick on the guy following me,” Forsbacka Karlsson said. “I realized I had a little bit of space and tried to get it to the net.”
Playing a weeknight game means a quick turnaround for BU, as it heads down the road to Fenway Park for a Friday afternoon skate in preparation for the following afternoon’s return to Hockey East action ― a Frozen Fenway contest against UMass.
For the interim though, this win feels good.
“It feels like a playoff win in a lot of ways,” Quinn said. “The guys believed all week in practice, you could kind of feel an excitement to play. I don’t want to say ‘shock the world,’ but it was more of the players being asked ‘how are you going to play a game with all these guys gone?’ I think they may have feel a little bit slighted. It was a great, great win for us.”