|Linesmen break up a shoving match between BC's Brian Gibbons and BU's Chris Higgins at Agganis Arena. (Essdras M Suarez/Globe Staff)|
Last night's matchup between Hockey East rivals Boston University and Boston College pitted two of the top offenses in the nation, with the Terriers ranked third and the Eagles fourth. But the 243d meeting between the schools was far from a scoring bonanza.
In front of a sellout crowd of 6,221 at Agganis Arena, the teams battled to a 1-1 tie. In the Eagles' case, the culprit was their transition game, which was absent on too many occasions. In the case of the Terriers, the chances were abundant, the ability to capitalize was not.
BU's winless streak against BC is now six games (0-4-2). The Terriers lead the all-time series, 120-106-17. The teams face off again tonight at Conte Forum.
"We had six power plays and we really got a lot of good opportunities," said BU coach Jack Parker. "They only had three and they only had two shots on their power play, so there was a six-shot differential right there.
"I thought both teams played hard. We would've liked to have gotten more than 1 point out of it, that's for sure, and we deserved to get more than 1 point out of it, but I don't think BC deserved to lose, either."
The teams were tied, 1-1, heading into the first intermission. No. 7 BU scored first, at 11:09 during a delayed penalty. Brandon Yip skated the puck up the right side and pulled up along the boards. He spun around and fired the puck toward the net. BC defenseman Carl Sneep attempted to intercept it, but he fanned on it and it bounced to John McCarthy, who was charging the net. McCarthy lifted the puck past sophomore goaltender John Muse (35 saves) for his second goal of the season.
Just 19 seconds later, the No. 2 Eagles (9-4-2, 5-3-2) tied it. Benn Ferriero took the puck from BU defenseman Tommy Cross and sent it to Brian Gibbons. Gibbons made a cross-ice pass to Brock Bradford, who beat freshman Kieran Millan (21 saves) to the glove side from the top of the crease at 11:28. It was Bradford's 14th goal and 23d point of the season, both tops among Division 1 players.
Despite no scoring, the middle period was dominated by the Terriers, who outshot the Eagles, 14-4, and carried play throughout. BC was disorganized on defense and generated next to nothing in the attacking zone.
It was a minor miracle the game was still tied because although BU (9-4-1, 4-4-1) did not produce any goals in the second, it wasn't from a lack of opportunities. The best came during a power play. With BC defenseman Nick Petrecki in the penalty box for cross-checking, BU blue liner Kevin Shattenkirk sent the puck down from the left point. Chris Higgins tried to redirect it into the net from just outside the crease, but he hit the right post instead of the back of the net.
In the third, Higgins had to be talking to himself because during a BU power play midway through the period, he hit the post for the second time. Just before that, Yip had an excellent chance to break the tie when he had a forehand bid from in tight at 4:50, but Muse made a terrific stop with his left pad.
Millan made an excellent stop on one of the Eagles' best opportunities of the night. Freshman Cam Atkinson was bearing down on him, but Millan snared a doorstep bid with his glove.
BU outshot BC for the third straight period, 10-7, and finished regulation with a 33-21 edge. The Eagles outplayed the Terriers during much of the overtime.
"It's the third straight OT game [between BC and BU]," said Eagles coach Jerry York. "I think that reflects the similarities between the two teams. These are two teams that are going to be vying for the league championship and postseason awards. Right now it's at the height of its rivalry because we're both nationally ranked, we're both very good teams."
Tickets for the 25th Hockey East championship Championship, March 20-21 at TD Banknorth Garden, go on sale this morning at 11. They can be purchased through the Garden box office, ticketmaster.com, or by calling 617-931-2000.
Nancy Marrapese-Burrell can be reached at email@example.com.