Tuesday, November 24, 2009

USCHO Recap: BU 6 Harvard 5 OT

BU Pulls Out 6-5 OT Thriller
Connolly Nets Winner After Terriers Tie Game Late

By Scott Weighart, Senior Writer
ALLSTON, MA – When’s the last time you saw a hockey player score four goals and lose?

Or a team finish with a collective minus nine rating and win?Or a team take the lead four different times before losing?

Or a Boston University team score with less than 20 seconds left in regulation to tie a game before winning it in overtime?

Okay, you probably remember the last time that happened. Still, the above factoids will give you some idea of how weird and wild the game was between Boston University and Harvard in front of 3,076 at the Bright Hockey Center tonight. When the ice chips settled, the Terriers had pulled out a stirring 6-5 overtime victory, thanks to Zach Cohen’s tying goal with 19.5 seconds left in regulation and Chris Connolly’s game-winner at 2:42 of overtime.

Joe Pereira led the way for BU with two goals and two assists, while Nick Bonino added a goal and two assists for the Terriers. Yet Harvard freshman Conor Morrison—who started the night with just one goal in seven collegiate goals—stole the show individually with a stunning four-goal performance.

“Overall, it was an unbelievably exciting hockey game,” Terrier coach Jack Parker said. “I thought it was a great effort by everybody. I thought they played really hard; we played really hard. No one wanted to give up anything. When you score late like we did, it’s very fortunate to get the W. But when you score late, you’ve got the momentum going into overtime, and we certainly had that.

“I thought everybody played well on my team. We shortened the bench in the third period and went with three lines. Some guys got a little legless, but they worked like hell.”

Meanwhile, Harvard coach Ted Donato saw his team cough up a third-period lead for the fourth time in eight games this season. “Obviously, we’re disappointed,” Donato said. “You’ve got to give a lot of credit to BU. They kept coming, generated a lot of shots. Throughout the game, we kept answering back with a lot of goals and were able to maintain the lead for most of the night, but they kept coming.

“We struggled a little against their power play and were unable to keep them from getting to the net at times. Our guys battled hard, but we’ve got to do a better job of holding onto leads and closing games out.”

BU dominated play early and went ahead on their first power play of the game. Nick Bonino passed to Max Nicastro for a shot from the right point, and Pereira pounced on the rebound. At 9:11, Harvard tied it with a little puck luck, as a pass between two Terrier defensemen kicked off a referee’s skate and landed in grade ‘A’ country out front, where Morrison buried it.

BU goalie Kieran Millan gave up perhaps his softest goal of the season at 13:09, when Alex Killorn floated a backhander toward the far post from the right wing. Millan waved an arm at it but only got a piece of it, and the puck was in the net. BU go that one back during a five-minute power play following a boarding major on Brendan Rempel, as Zach Cohen tipped in a David Warsosky slapshot at 16:32.

Morrison got his second goal at 2:37 of the second period, backhanding in a rebound. But BU made it three-for-three on the power play at 6:39 when Pereira knocked in another rebound after Kevin Shattenkirk took a shot from the point.

Through two periods, all of Harvard’s goals were even strength, while all of BU’s came on the power play. As a result, BU’s combined plus-minus rating through 40 minutes was a minus 15, while Harvard was a plus 15—quite odd given that the game was tied at that point.

Morrison notched the hat trick at 5:06 of the third, driving in on the left wing before cutting across the slot with the puck on his backhand. Kevin Gilroy collided with Millan in the crease, and Morrison had that much more net to shot as a result. BU fought back to tie it yet again at 13:51 when Pereira attempted a wraparound that caromed off of Harvard goalie Kyle Richter and out to Bonino for the shot and score.

It looked as if the Crimson had the game won when Morrison scored his fourth goal of the night with just 1:18 remaining in the third. Daniel Moriarty and Chris Huxley dug the puck out of the right-wing boards to feed Morrison for the one-timer in the slot. It was the first time a Harvard player scored four times in a game since Chris Bala did it back on March 6, 1998. “We’ve been on kind of a rough stretch, so it was tough to lose it,” Morrison said. “It was a special night for me, but I’m not satisfied."

However, BU pulled Millan and scored an extra-attacker goal with just 19.5 seconds to knot the game up again. Warsofsky was cheating in on the left point, and a puck came out to him. His shot was redirected in by Zach Cohen to save the day for the Terriers.

Connolly’s goal came when Bonino attempted a wraparound, only to have the puck end up slipping through the slot to the winger at the far post. “We were fortunate enough to get it down low, cycling the puck,” Connolly said. “Nick got it in his favorite position, and I knew it was going to either go in or pop out to the other side. There was a scrum in front, so I figured I’d just wait off to the side and see what happened. I got lucky: It popped right there, and I had a wide open net.”

Jack Parker said that it was the best effort his team has shown since a 1-0 loss to Northeastern several weeks ago. “I was looking for a W, obviously, but I was more interested in our intensity—how fast we’d play and how smart we’d play,” Parker said. “We had speed and smarts tonight, that’s for sure.”

“I think it showed a lot of character tonight,” Pereira said. “Before we were kind of waiting for something bad to happen, but tonight we dug deep and responded.”BU (4-7-1) will look to keep the momentum going when playing Cornell at Madison Square Garden on Saturday night, while Harvard (1-5-2) next plays ECAC opponent Dartmouth on Sunday.

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