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BU Draws Positives from Saturday Loss to Minnesota State

Matt Dewkett/SB Nation

BOSTON -- “It’s October 14.”

Losing two games in a weekend is obviously not an ideal result, but that was part of Boston University head coach David Quinn’s message after Saturday night’s 3-0 loss to Minnesota State at Agganis Arena.

It was a tale of two different nights on the weekend for BU, which dropped a 6-3 decision to open the series Friday. Save for the result, this was a better effort from puck drop to the final horn.

“Last night I was disappointed that we lost and I was very disappointed with the way we played, but tonight it was more just disappointed that we lost because I thought we did a lot of the things that we didn’t do last night,” Quinn said. “I thought we competed, I thought we were physical.”

The shutout loss was BU’s first shutout loss in close to 11 months – since Nov. 19, 2016 against UConn. After Connor LaCouvee made 32 saves against his former team on Friday, the Mavericks turned to junior Jason Pawloski, who turned in a 26-stop effort.

The loss concludes an up-and-down start to the season for BU, who opened the regular season with wins over Union and Quinnipiac. Highs and lows within a game and an entire season are inevitable, especially with a group that features seven freshmen in the everyday lineup.

“We’re a young team so we are learning, but that’s no excuse,” BU defenseman and senior captain Brandon Hickey said. “We just have to go out there every day this week just trying to focus on making better decisions with the puck, being quicker to cover guys and making simple plays.”

No goals were scored, but Pawloski’s performance in the first period saved the game for BU, which had its fair share of chances but could not cash. The Terriers were unsuccessful on three of the period’s power plays and any of their 12 shots on goal, keeping the score blank.

Like a tale of two games, it was a tale of two different periods to start the game. BU did not manage a shot inside the faceoff circles in the second 20 minutes, and the visitors scored in the eighth and 14th minutes to take a two-goal lead.

“I thought our goaltender was exceptional in the first period,” said Minnesota State head coach Mike Hastings, whose team held a 14-4 shot advantage in the frame.

“To not be down being in the box the way we were in and with the possession time they had in-zone, I think he was a difference maker and gave us a chance to collect our breath. We had some veteran guys step up tonight, and we needed them to.”

Sophomore Nick Rivera broke the scoreless game 7:15 into the period, following up defenseman Ian Scheid’s try from the left side for a rebound goal on a power play that came as a result of a too many men on the ice penalty against the Terriers.

The veterans Hastings mentioned teamed up to double the visitors’ lead at 13:56. After Zeb Knutson took two tries on BU sophomore goaltender Jake Oettinger, C.J. Suess crashed the net and poked home another rebound for his first goal of the season.

“We got away from (playing simple hockey) in the second period and they hemmed us in our zone,” Hickey said. “Once we were playing simple, we were in their end and all over them.”

The third period was an even battle, BU was unable to capitalize on an early final power play, despite posting four shots on goal and six of the period’s first seven in total. Sophomore defenseman Chad Krys – one of four BU players with three shots on goal in the game – rifled a shot from the blue line at Pawloski’s cage during the man-up sequence, but the Terriers were unable to create a rebound.

Mark Michaelis added an empty-net goal from the right side at the 18:27 mark to result in the 3-0 final score.

This game marked a low in terms of results, but Quinn and the Terriers left the weekend feeling better than they did 24 hours earlier, and that is what counts. After all, it was only October 14, and it’s about progress at this stage of the game.

“When we face adversity in the middle of a game, we kind of feel sorry for ourselves and that was kind of what was going on tonight with the body language, sagging the shoulders and the dropping the head,” Quinn said. “You don’t want it to happen, but I’m encouraged by our work ethic and how hard we played against a team that plays a man’s game.”

“We’re going to be a good hockey team this year. It was probably a little early for us to play a team like that; it was a tough match-up, but I’m very encouraged by our team. This team works hard, they come to the rink every day with passion and enthusiasm.”