BOSTON — For 48 minutes, it appeared the No. 14 Michigan hockey team would shut down Boston University freshman sensation Jack Eichel for the first time this season.
That was until the third period.
At the 2:29 mark, the U.S. National Team Development Program alum and projected top-5 pick for the 2015 NHL Draft batted a puck between sophomore goaltender Zach Nagelvoort’s pads, tying the game at two.
On his birthday, Eichel’s game-tying goal gave No. 11 Boston University the second wind it needed to complete a 3-2 victory.
“Jack Eichel, for all he is, and he is a great player, he didn’t really do much,” said junior forward Andrew Copp. “I think we did a good job against him.
“Building on last night, we had a pretty good weekend.”
After scoring eight goals against No. 7 UMass- Lowell on Friday, Michigan managed just two against goaltender Matt O’Connor. With the loss, the Wolverines fall to 2-3 on the season, narrowly missing out on what was otherwise a resume-building weekend on the road.
After Eichel’s tally, both teams remained, as they had all game, deadlocked for the next 10 minutes. But then freshman defenseman Sam Piazza went top-shelf on what appeared to be the go-ahead goal for Michigan. Two minutes later, though, the call was overturned and the score stayed put at 2-2.
On the fourth goal review of the night, Boston University’s tally was confirmed, and the Terriers went on to secure the victory.
“It’s disappointing when the outcome of the game comes down to a referee sitting in the penalty box looking at a monitor to decide whether the goal will count or not,” said Michigan coach Red Berenson.
In the second period, freshman forward Dylan Larkin’s second assist, this time to sophomore linemate Alex Kile at the 8:33 mark in the second period gave Michigan its second one-goal advantage of the game, a score that held until the second buzzer.
A pileup at the end of the frame left a red helmet in Michigan’s net. Nagelvoort hit it toward the Boston University bench, and the Terriers skated into the second intermission facing a deficit for the first time this season.
After a shaky performance Friday, the Wolverines’ defense was put immediately to the test against Boston University when freshman defenseman Zach Werenski took a hooking penalty just 45 seconds into the game. The Terriers managed three shots but nothing more, as Nagelvoort — who made his first start since tweaking a hamstring last Friday against New Hampshire — gloved all three.
Werenski made up for the first the holding call, though, when he scored a one-timer from the point, putting Michigan on the board first for the second night in a row.
“Our team showed up, our young players got good experience, and we should grow,” Berenson said. “Both teams are going to better at Christmas than they are right now.”
Meanwhile, Nagelvoort stood on his head. The netminder stopped 14 shots in the frame — several of which were golden chances from Boston University’s top line — and finished with 34 in the game. In the third period, he batted pucks out of the air and away toward the glass, but it was’t enough.
Larkin finished the night with two assists, upping his line’s weekend total to an impressive 15 points. Kile, his linemate, scored his second goal in as many games, and now has six point in four contests.
So if nothing else, Michigan proved it can skate with the Eichels of this league, something it was unsure of before this weekend.
“We can beat any team in the country and I think we showed that tonight,” Copp said. “We’re a better team.”