BOSTON — If the Michigan hockey team’s game against No. 10 Boston University was its first real test of the season, the Wolverines passed with flying colors — for two periods.
In that time, No. 12 Michigan played some of its best hockey of the season.
But a hockey game has three periods, not two, and one goal was all it took for the Agganis Arena to come alive as the Terriers scored three unanswered goals in the third period to come away with a 3-2 victory.
After two periods of lackluster hockey, Boston University came out of the second intermission with noticeably more intensity, and it showed with just 16 seconds into a Brendan Warren penalty. Terriers forward Danny O’Regan walked into the Michigan zone and sniped one past Racine into the right upper corner of the net to wake up the once-quiet Agganis Arena.
And 12 seconds later, two periods of solid Wolverine hockey were erased when Terrier forward Robbie Baillargeon’s shot deflected off junior defenseman Nolan De Jong’s skate and past senior goaltender Steve Racine to knot the score at two.
Junior forward Tyler Motte had a glorious chance to put Michigan back up by one 36 seconds later, when he was hooked on a breakaway.
But Terrier netminder Connor LaCouvee came up big on the ensuing penalty shot, stuffing Motte’s shot attempt and keeping the score level at two.
Boston University forward Doyle Somerby ended the scoring barrage with 3:54 left in the game, to destroy Michigan’s chances for a win.
“It’s not an easy thing to do when you don’t play well for two periods, and be able to pull it together and give yourself a chance in the third, but that’s what we did,” said Boston University coach David Quinn. “Those first two periods were tough to watch. I think they had a lot of jump in our step, they were quicker to loose pucks, generally, they were much more alert than we are.”
Added Motte: “I wouldn’t say so much the noise (of the stadium), but that it’s deflating. Playing so well for the first 40, maybe not great early on in the third there, but we’re still holding our own. That goal really flipped the table on us.”
But for the first two periods, it was all Michigan and junior forward Alex Kile got the Wolverine scoring started with 13:47 left in the first period. After LaCouvee got the initial save off a shot from Motte, Kile and junior forward JT Compher swung at the puck, with Kile getting contact and pushing the puck past LaCouvee’s right pad.
Michigan’s second goal came four minutes later on the power play, when once again the Wolverines pounced on a rebound. This time, Kile took the initial shot before freshman forward Cooper Marody pounced on the rebound for his fifth goal of the season.
But the Wolverines’ first-period highlight-reel play came from Racine.
Racine, getting his second straight start, denied Boston University forward Matt Lane with a beautiful split save off his right pad.
The second period didn’t bring any scoring for both teams, but that didn’t mean the Wolverines lacked chances.
De Jong wrung the post, and Warren was stopped on the breakaway by Lacouvee’s right pad, while the Terriers had a 5-on-3 for 21 seconds, but Michigan was able to kill off the first penalty before drawing a penalty to effectively kill off the two-man advantage.
“I think we were hitting, taking the body a lot, really moving the puck (for the first two periods),” Marody said. “We had good communication out there.”
While the Wolverines won’t be happy about the final result, Michigan played some its best hockey for two periods.
With less than 24 hours before the teams meet again, the Wolverines will need to regroup because Friday’s game won’t matter tomorrow.
“Obviously, not the turnout we want, giving up three goals in the third period,” Motte said. “It’s a tough break but have to turn the page. Four o’clock game tomorrow, early game, no time to really think about this one. Just need to use this as fuel to the fire, and turn the page and get ready for tomorrow. That’s all you can do. You can’t dwell on it.”