Quinn: BU's battle level not where it needs to be
David Quinn's Terriers fell to 7-10-2 on the year with a home loss to Dartmouth Wednesday. (Photo: Steve McLaughlin/BU Athletics)
BOSTON -- Former ECAC combatants Boston University (7-10-2) and Dartmouth College (3-11-2) are longtime foes on the ice, but it had been nearly six seasons since the two teams clashed at Agganis Arena in Boston on Wednesday night.
For the Big Green, a quick response to both of BU’s goals opened the door for three goals over the final two periods for a 4-2 win - their second in as many contests on the Scarlet and White end of Commonwealth Avenue.
“It was a good win for our guys,” Dartmouth head coach Bob Gaudet said. “It’s a tough place to play. I thought our guys battled very hard in a good college hockey game.”
Just 7:49 in, third-year Cason Hohmann found the back of the net to open the Terriers’ scoring for the third consecutive game. Hohmann scored the opening goal in BU’s 3-1 win over North Dakota on Nov. 22 and Saturday’s 7-4 loss across town at Harvard, sandwiched between missing five games due to injury.
Off an initial shot from sophomore top linemate Danny O’Regan (Needham, Mass.), the Texan fought for open ice in the low slot and backhanded a rebound into an open net left by Dartmouth sophomore Charles Grant.
The Green knotted the score at one apiece with 54 seconds remaining in the stanza as junior Charlie Mosey picked the upper corner on BU’s Sean Maguire.
It was the local boy and Bruins draft prospect who gave the home-standing squad a 2-1 lead 7:41 into the second period as sophomore Matt Grzelcyk (Charlestown, Mass.) fired from the high slot through a screen that included classmate and St. Sebastian’s School product Danny O’Regan (Needham, Mass.).
In the end, the Massachusetts connection would not be enough to pull out the victory. Since a 3-2 win over Cornell on Nov. 30 at Madison Square Garden, the Terriers lost three of four points to Merrimack and lost to non-league foes Bentley and Harvard.
“I think it just comes down to hard work,” Grzelcyk said of the team’s effort in the last five games. “It seems like we’re not a determined group right now and we need to fix that for sure.”
Dartmouth re-evened the score 1:13 later when sophomore winger Brad Schierhorn banged in a loose puck from the side of the net for his third goal and eighth point of the campaign.
At 18:41, senior Nick Lovejoy (Orford, N.H.) knocked in his first goal as a collegian on the side of the net to lift the Big Green by a 3-2 margin. Lovejoy’s first cousin Kyle Nickerson (Weston, Mass.) was also in front of the net and provided the primary assistance on the goal, which was the first of the recently-converted defenseman’s career.
“That was fun and it was easy actually,” Lovejoy said with a glowing smile. “It was a pretty easy goal. I’m glad I didn’t miss it with a wide-open net. ... That was special.”
Despite the early goal and a response, the Terriers did not seem to have a complete level that was satisfactory for head coach David Quinn (Cranston, R.I.) and it showed as the Big Green came back in quick succession.
“I thought from start to finish they were thorough,” BU head coach David Quinn (Cranston, R.I.) said. “The better team won tonight.
“They just won battles. The third goal just summarized the game in a nutshell. Everybody’s in the right position and three guys lose one-on-one battles. It was the story of the game, and the story of our season. … When the game means something, you better find a way to compete, win battles, and right now we have way too many people that aren’t doing that.”
The Big Green took advantage of a brutal BU turnover 3:40 into the third period as junior Eric Neiley took the loose puck up ahead by himself for a shorthanded breakaway goal for his team-best tenth and 14th point of the season. After BU’s Cason Hohmann lost the puck, Neiley broke in by his lonesome and deked to the backhand for a five-hole shot.
The win came in the fourth of a five-game stretch against Hockey East teams for the Big Green, on the heels of consecutive ties against No. 16 Northeastern and No. 18 Vermont. In the 107-year history of the program, Dartmouth has never played five consecutive non-conference games against teams from the same league.
“It’s a huge one for us,” Gaudet said of breaking a five-game winless skid, which dates back to Dec. 7 at Brown. “We’ve worked really, really hard. The results haven’t been there on a consistent basis, but we know we’re playing good hockey. … It’s fun to play Hockey East teams. They’re good rivals, good coaches, (have) nice facilities. It’s been fun.”