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BC 3, BU 2

With three in first, BC pulls fast one

Paul Carey (22) couldn’t pad BC’s lead in the third period against BU goaltender Kieran Millan. Paul Carey (22) couldn’t pad BC’s lead in the third period against BU goaltender Kieran Millan. (Matthew J. Lee/Globe Staff)
By Nancy Marrapese-Burrell
Globe Staff / January 22, 2011

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On Wednesday night, Northeastern and Harvard squared off at Matthews Arena in a preview of the first Beanpot semifinal Feb. 7 at TD Garden. That one turned out to be lopsided in favor of the Huskies as the Crimson continue their season-long struggle.

Last night at Agganis Arena, archrivals Boston College and Boston University showcased the other Beanpot semifinal. The third-ranked Eagles started fast, the 15th-ranked Terriers rallied, but in the end BC prevailed, 3-2, in front of 6,150. The win gave the Eagles a three-game sweep in Hockey East meetings.

Both squads were coming off losses and BC (16-6-0, 12-5-0) hadn’t dropped two in a row all season. BU (10-7-6, 7-5-4) lost two in a row just once before last night, when it fell to the Eagles Dec. 3 and 4.

BU coach Jack Parker said his team has been working toward finding an identity, one that would bring some consistency. Although the Terriers are very good at staging comebacks, no doubt the coaching staff would like to see them not dig themselves as deep a hole as they did last night and Tuesday night against Merrimack, which also scored the first three goals.

“We really had an excellent start, our first period was one of our best all year,’’ said BC coach Jerry York. “I thought the goaltenders were strong and we each controlled a period. They controlled the second, and the third was just back and forth.’’

The Eagles took command early. At 4:38 of the first, sophomore Steven Whitney charged down the slot and beat goalie Kieran Millan (24 saves) for his fourth tally of the season.

BC’s next two goals came during power plays. With defenseman Sean Escobedo in the box for high-sticking at 8:14 of the first, the Eagles capitalized in less than a minute. The visitors put on a passing clinic, with junior Cam Atkinson finishing the sequence with a dish to senior Brian Gibbons. The center fired one past Millan from the right edge of the crease at 9:10 for his 11th of the year.

The Eagles struck again at 16:25. With sophomore blue liner Max Nicastro off for interference, BC needed just 23 seconds to cash in. This time it was sophomore defenseman Brian Dumoulin, whose bid from the top of the left circle eluded Millan.

The Terriers started the comeback at 3:36 of the second on freshman defenseman Garrett Noonan’s first goal. Sophomore Alex Chiasson, who was positioned just outside and behind the left post, centered a pass in front and Noonan wristed it past goalie John Muse (30 saves).

The middle of the period lacked flow because of penalties, but BU made the most of a BC infraction to pull within one. With freshman Bill Arnold sitting in the box for holding at 9:54, the Terriers relied on two of their strongest offensive threats to close the gap.

Junior Chris Connolly had the puck at the left point and he swung it to junior defenseman David Warsofsky at the right point. Warsofsky’s one-timer buzzed past Muse at 11:01 for his sixth tally of the season.

The Terriers almost tied it during a power play after Arnold made a return trip to the penalty box at 14:44, but Muse denied defenseman Adam Clendening’s slapper from the left point.

BU had chances in the third but it couldn’t convert on a pair of power plays.

“Too little, too late,’’ said Parker. “We’re not interested in moral victories but it is something that we can build on.’’

Nancy Marrapese-Burrell can be reached at marrapese@globe.com.