At the end of a closely-contested game, nearly every losing coach can look back on a play his team failed to make that would’ve completely changed the complexion of the tilt.
BU bench boss David Quinn probably had half-a-dozen moments he could’ve reflected on after his team’s 3-1 loss to Boston College in their semifinal showdown at the Beanpot. None stood out more than the precious opportunity the Terriers wasted after what should’ve been a costly turnover by Eagles blueliner Michael Matheson early in the third period.
Matheson lost the puck and went wiping out near the right faceoff dot in his own zone. BU pounced, setting up bids by Kevin Duane (New Canaan, Conn.) and Matt Lane with a loose puck lying in Thatcher Demko’s crease. Somehow, the Terriers couldn’t bury it, and the score remained 2-0 BC.
“Lane and Duane — sounds like a law firm — were whacking and hacking at it,” Quinn said. “I still can’t believe it didn’t go in. It was bouncing all over the place like a super ball, so we weren’t able to settle it down.”
That play loomed large, especially when, just a few minutes later, freshman Robbie Baillargeon (Enfield, Conn.) ripped a shot through traffic past Demko that cut the Eagles’ lead in half. Had Lane or Duane been able to cash in earlier in the frame, it would’ve been a tied game.
With goalie Matt O’Connor (29 saves) pulled, the Terriers again came close to knotting things up. Evan Rodrigues, who hit a pair of posts earlier in the period, redirected a shot on Demko with about 45 seconds left, but the freshman phenom managed to get a piece of it with his left shoulder.
Johnny Gaudreau put the game out of reach with an empty-netter.
“I don’t want to rely on puck luck, but it’s certainly nice to have it,” said Quinn. “Against a team like BC, you need a little luck. You need great goaltending, you need to be thorough and you need a little luck. We got two of the three.”
For a BU team that dominated the No. 2 Eagles for stretches, the loss sends them to a consolation matchup with Harvard for the second year in a row.
“I’ll have nightmares about this one for a while,” said BU co-captain Garrett Noonan (Norfolk, Mass.), who's now a member of the second straight senior class to go their entire four-year stay without a Beanpot. “It always stinks losing to BC. But the young guys, they’re going to win a lot of Beanpots, and this program’s heading in the right direction.”
Noonan’s confident the Terriers are heading in the right direction in the long term. Quinn hopes his BU squad uses their strong showing as a springboard and can turn things around down the stretch.
“We’ve set the bar a little higher than [how] we’ve been playing lately,” Quinn said. “We’ve got to make sure that we take this approach not only during the Beanpot when we’re playing BC, but for the rest of the season. If we do that, we’re going to crawl back into this thing and put ourselves in a good position.”
If the hockey gods are a fair bunch, the tough-luck Terriers will catch a break or two along the way.