Tucker, Terriers Stymie Wildcats

Boston, MA – Boston University graduate transfer student Sam Tucker stopped 30 of 31 shots as he backstopped the Terriers to a 3-1 win over the visiting University of New Hampshire Wildcats in front of 3,814 at Agganis ArenaPatrick Curry‘s 16th goal of the season at 15:04 of the second period proved to be the game-winner.

“I felt strong but I thought the team made it easy for me,” said the Wilton, CT native Tucker. “They kept nearly all the shots to the outside and I think we were really strong in controlling the play in our defensive zone. That was very beneficial for me.”

With the win the Terriers jumped into third place in a tumultuous Hockey East race while the Wildcats fell out of playoff contention for the time being. The weekend sweep of UNH means that BU won all three conference games against the Wildcats this season. A 3-0 win in November coupled with Friday night’s 4-1 win gives the Terriers a combined 10-2 total against UNH.

The Wildcats jumped out to a quick 1-0 lead when senior Liam Blackburn beat Tucker with a wrist shot from the slot at 1:24. Blackburn’s fourth goal of the year was assisted by Patrick Grasso and Jackson Pierson.

The Wildcats celebrate Liam Blackburn’s early goal.

Boston U.’s Robert Mastrosimone made a slick play putting the puck through the legs of defenseman Max Gildon just inside the UNH blue line and was in on goalie Mike Robinson (16 saves) but shot high.

At 7:09 UNH’s Angus Crookshank was called for Contact to the Head/Roughing and given a 10 minute Game Misconduct. Matt Dawson would serve the 5:00 Minute Major penalty.

Just under two minutes later Wilmer Skoog tied the game at 1-1. The mid-season addition for the Terriers was all alone in front of Robinson when he caught a Case McCarthy pass and used his length to out stretch Robinson and lifted a backhander into the UNH net. The goal at 9:07 was Skoog’s fourth of the year. McCarthy and Jamie Armstrong assisted.

Wilmer Skoog strikes again.

Despite the loss of Crookshank the Wildcats continued to pressure the Terriers. UNH had two power plays in the last five minutes of the first period. A Holding call on Skoog at 14:52 and a Slashing call on defenseman Cam Crotty at 18:49. UNH put five shots on goal during the man advantages but Tucker was solid.

UNH outshot BU 14-4 and won the face-off battle 9-4 in the first period.

David Farrance looked to set up Matthew Quercia early in the second when he fired a pass out front that Quercia one-timed but Robinson was there to make the stop.

At 15:04 Domenick Fensore carried the puck along the right boards behind the UNH net and dished to Curry on the doorstep for the tap in goal. Curry had two UNH defenders on him when he scored the go-ahead goal.

Patrick Curry nets the game-winner in the second period.

The pace of play was frantic, as each team was up and down the Agganis ice. UNH appeared to score twice but each time the goals were immediately waved off. First for a high stick before the Curry goal and again near the end of the period when the net became dislodged.

Logan Cockerill almost made it 3-1 when his slapshot beat Robinson but hit the post with about a minute and a half remaining in the second.

Logan Cockerill tees up a slapshot that hits the post in the second period.

The score favored the Terriers but the play was being carried by the Wildcats after two. UNH outshot BU 13-6 in the second for a two period total of 27-10. The Wildcats were outdrawing the Terriers 21-8 in the face-off circle during the first two periods.

The Terriers turned it up a notch in the third period and controlled the action for the final 20 minutes of play.

Patrick Harper and Trevor Zegras had a two on zero on Robinson but Zegras put the puck over the UNH net about five minutes into the third.

The Terriers defense and forecheck held the Wildcats to only four shots in the third period. BU pressure late in the period kept Robinson from making his way to the bench for the extra attacker as time wound down.

UNH did manage to get Robinson off the ice when The Wildcats used their timeout with :37.5 remaining. Cockerill added insult to injury when his empty net goal sealed the win at 19:40. Kasper Kotkansalo and Jake Wise were credited with the assists.

“I had a little bit of a tough time coming back from injury not being able to shot or stick-handle for two, three months,” said Cockerill of his empty-netter. “I’ll take what I can get at this point.”

“I thought our guys played hard tonight,” said UNH coach Mike Souza. “One goal is not going to get it done. Two goals on the weekend’s not going to get it done, I don’t care who you’re playing.”

“I thought they played well,” said Souza of his team after losing leading scorer Crookshank in the first period. “I thought the coverage on the second goal was unacceptable at this time of year, but BU is going to make plays, they’re skilled players, we know that. We have to convert on our chances. We had all those chances, I’m sure if you look at the statistics we out chanced them five on five but who cares? One goal’s not going to cut it.”

BU congratulates Sam Tucker after the 3-1 Terrier win.

“It wasn’t a perfect game for us,” said Terrier coach Albie O’Connell. “UNH came out and they played really well. The first two periods they took it to us and we didn’t have an answer a lot of the time. We’re pretty fortunate they took a five minute major and lost their best player early.”

“Overall Tuck (Tucker) held us in there until the third,” said O’Connell. “I thought the third period we played terrific. It was the second third period in a row we played really smart and really disciplined and we got back to the simplicity of the night before that gave us success.”

The Wildcats are idle this coming weekend due to Hockey East’s unbalanced amount of teams. They have a home and home series with UMass-Lowell starting on Friday February 28 at Lowell’s Tsongas Arena at 7:15 pm EST and Saturday at the Whittemore Center in Durham, NH at 7:00 pm EST.

Boston U. meanwhile has a home and home with UConn this coming Friday and Saturday. Friday night is at the XL Center in Hartford, CT and Saturday is at Agganis Arena in Boston, MA. Both games are 7:00 pm EST puck drops.

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