Terriers grab piece of top spot
LOWELL - In its last visit to the Tsongas Center, the Boston University hockey team walked away with its tail between its legs following a 7-1 pasting.
Last night, the No. 2 Terriers (18-10-1, 14-7-1) repaid the favor, and in the process regained a share of first place in the Hockey East standings with a 7-4 win over the No. 6 River Hawks (19-9-0, 14-8-0).
“You want to have some separation here,’’ said BU coach Jack Parker, whose team is tied atop the standings with Boston College. “It’s a really unbelievable race for who is going to win the league. Five teams can win [it].’’
The early action was fairly even. A fast up-and-down tempo led to numerous chances at both ends with the River Hawks holding a 14-10 edge in shots in the first period.
The hosts tallied the first goal at the 5:53 mark of the first period. A Stephen Buco pass was redirected by a defender, and with BU goalie Kieran Millan out of position, Michael Budd, trailing the play, picked up the puck and slid it in on the left side for his fifth goal of the season.
It didn’t take long for a response as Wade Megan roofed a rebound past Doug Carr 43 seconds later to pull BU even.
Alex Chiasson’s power-play goal at 13:12 put the Terriers on top for good and Yasin Cisse finished off a textbook tic-tac-toe play from Ryan Santana and Ross Gaudet for a 3-1 lead that carried into intermission.
The Terriers kept up the attack in the second period, scoring their second power-play goal when Chris Connolly collected a loose puck on the doorstep and buried it for a 4-1 lead.
After killing a five-on-three, the Terriers struck again when Chiasson (one goal, three assists) poked the puck from his own blue line. Adam Clendening, fresh out of the box, collected it and skated in all alone to put BU up by four goals.
As the penalties piled up (nine total in the second period), the River Hawks finally broke through on one of their own power-play chances when Matt Ferreira found Malcolm Lyles, whose one-timer with 43 seconds left in the period was his first goal the season.
“We shouldn’t be taking our time coming back and we gave them a break down the ice,’’ said Parker. “Then the guy walks down Broadway and fires it.’’
The River Hawks looked to put momentum on their side when they struck 20 seconds into the third period. Scott Wilson backhanded a pass from behind the net to Riley Wetmore, who potted his 10th goal of the season, making it 5-3.
But Gaudet would single-handedly tilt things back in the Terriers’ favor two minutes later, poking the puck past the River Hawks’ defense, then splitting them at the blue line, pulling Carr far out of the net for a wide-open shot and a 6-3 lead.
“I thought the biggest goal of the game was Gaudet’s,’’ said Parker. “Him making that play and beating the goalie with the puck, to pull it back and put it in, gave us a three-goal lead again and took the steam out of them.’’
Ferreira one-timed a Joseph Pendenza pass to put the River Hawks within two goals with a little over half a period to play, but that would be as close as they got.
Matt Nieto (one goal, two assists) slammed home BU’s third power-play goal of the night with just more than eight minutes remaining, and with Millan (38 saves) putting in a solid effort, the door was closed on the River Hawks.
The teams meet up in the rubber match of their three-game season series tonight at Agganis Arena.