It’s hard to win a game in the first period, but it’s easy to lose one. And for No. 9 Boston University, play got out of hand quickly.
Ceding seven penalties throughout the contest, the Terriers let up numerous offensive chances — chances which led to swift consequences.
In a contest marred for Boston by two five minute major penalties, the Wolverines’ special teams offense went to work, setting the tone in No. 6 Michigan’s (3-0-0) 9-2 win over Boston (1-1-0) in a dominant victory for the Wolverines.
“I’ll drop the same line: it was a goofy game,” Michigan coach Brandon Naurato said. “Just with all the power plays early, … it kind of reminds you of a tournament game. You can go either way. Just the chaos and the unpredictability. But I thought the guys did well.”
After Terrier forwards Luke Tuch and Jay O’Brien took consecutive five minute major penalties for contact to the head, Boston gifted Michigan with four minutes of uninterrupted five-on-three powerplay time. A nightmare for an opposing defense, the Terriers were caught between a rock and a hard place.
The Wolverines made quick work, scoring three powerplay goals in succession and asserting a commanding 4-0 lead midway through the first period. In just ten minutes, Boston dug itself into a major deficit.
“I certainly hope we learned that we have to be more disciplined,” Terriers coach Jay Pandolfo said. “Nevermind going down five-on-four. To go down five-on-three for almost four minutes is tough. You certainly put yourself in a hole.”
Matchups between two top ten teams rarely find themselves so undisciplined. For all the preparation and practice each team put in prior to the game, neither could have predicted what actually transpired.
Though Boston attempted to rally early in the second period, the puck didn’t roll its way.
Freshman defenseman Seamus Casey ricocheted a slap shot off the boards in the Michigan offensive zone. Unbeknownst to Terriers goaltender Drew Commesso, sophomore forward Dylan Duke smacked the puck out of midair and into the back of the net for a 5-0 lead.
Boston then found itself too far out of reach. With the damage done, there was little it could do but attempt to recover. The Wolverines made that task difficult though. The Terriers were continuously unable to generate scoring chances, struggling to even build momentum in Michigan’s defensive zone.
Meanwhile, the Wolverines refused to let off the gas, as Casey raced into the offensive zone after a faceoff, and sniped home another score to put Michigan up 6-0. A display of immense confidence for the freshman in his third ever competitive contest, Boston’s shoulders sagged as it seemed to have the air taken entirely out of its sails.
“One thing with our team is that we’re never satisfied,” sophomore defenseman Luke Hughes said. “It’s super important to capitalize as many times to make sure they can’t get back. Especially early.”
To their credit the Terriers rebounded though, netting a goal of their own. Yet that celebration was short-lived as sophomore forward Mackie Samoskevich put home a goal off of a rebound shot from freshman forward Adam Fantilli to increase the lead to 7-1.
The Wolverines’ ability to rebound throughout the contest emphasized the outsized level of play. As Boston struggled to string together momentum, Michigan sped past them, never looking back. From there, it put on cruise control, sailing to a 9-2 victory.
Nevertheless, despite the disproportionate score, the Wolverines must prepare for another contest against their top 10 opponent. Though they were able to capitalize on the plentiful opportunities afforded to them Friday, duplicating another performance like this will prove difficult.
“I don’t think the score indicates how it’ll be on Sunday,” Casey said. “I think we have a big day to prepare tomorrow and we’re gonna be ready to come out.”
Nonetheless, it was a contest that Michigan won in the third period, but Boston lost in the first.