BOSTON -- Boston University used a pair of power-play goals and 37 saves from goaltender Matt O’Connor to upend 15th-ranked North Dakota 3-1 tonight at Agganis Arena.
UND, already skating with a depleted roster that was without four forwards, ran into penalty trouble in the final 10 minutes of the first period and found itself staring at a 2-0 deficit at the first intermission.
After BU’s Casey Hohmann opened the scoring at the 9:14 mark, beating Clarke Saunders to the short side on a 2-on-1 rush, UND put the Terriers on the power-play three times before the end of the period.
Danny O’Regan scored with the man advantage with 2:45 left in the frame, knocking home a loose puck during a goal mouth scramble and providing the host Terriers with a cushion that was too much for UND to overcome.
Kevin Duane also struck on the power play early in the third period to make it 3-0. UND was unable to solve O’Connor until less than three minutes remained when sophomore Rocco Grimaldi scored his fourth goal of the season.
UND head coach Dave Hakstol said the BU power plays, especially the three in the opening period, set his team back.
“We had a good first 7-8 minutes of the game and then we spent the last half of the period killing penalties and we ended up with a two-goal deficit, and that’s hard to overcome on the road,” said Hakstol. “You’re spending energy killing (penalties) and trying to play defense rather than putting that energy into getting on our toes and playing on the offensive side of the puck. I think that took a lot out of our game tonight.”
UND registered a season-high 38 shots on goal but Hakstol said not enough were of the Grade-A variety.
“It goes back to the first period. I don’t think we generated enough quality opportunities,” said Hakstol. “We generated a lot of shots on goal, but the shot ticker doesn’t necessarily tell the tale. I don’t think we generated enough from critical areas. BU did a good job of defending.
“We couldn’t find a way to get the first (goal). We got it too late to give ourselves a chance.”
Grimaldi, who led all players with seven shots on goal, said UND needs to make life more difficult for the Terriers in front of their net.
“(O’Connor) played well and (my) hat’s off to him. Hopefully we can get more pucks at him tomorrow and get some bodies in front so he can’t see those shots,” said Grimaldi.
Saunders stopped 34 shots in the loss for UND. UND dropped to 4-6-1 overall with the loss (3-5-0 in the NCHC), but Hakstol said his locker room is resilient.
“It’s tough. You have to embrace that challenge,” said Hakstol. “If you want to back off of it or you’re afraid of the challenge coming the next day, you’re probably in the wrong place. We’re on the road in a tough series, and we knew it would be. We lost the first half. We’re going to concentrate on getting the second half tomorrow night.”
Grimaldi said UND needs to avoid becoming frustrated.
“Every weekend you’re looking for a sweep…and we haven’t gotten one of those yet. We’ve gotten swept, split a lot of (series). At North Dakota we’re known as a winning program. It’s early and I won’t blame it on being early, but as the season progress as we get closer to Christmas and January, I think we’ll figure it out. We’ll be fine in the end. I’m not worried about that. Everything’s going to be okay,” said Grimaldi.
With just two wins in the last eight games, Hakstol said the only focus will be on Saturday night’s series finale.
“I want our team to bounce back, play well, find a way to win a game tomorrow. No need to be concerned about the big picture. Take care of tomorrow and that’s what we’ll do.”
Saturday’s series finale is set for a 7:07 pm Eastern start.
Notes: UND went 0-for-2 on the power play while BU was 2-for-7 … Hakstol on injuries resulting in defensemen Gage Ausmus and Andrew Panzarella playing forward tonight: “We had 20 guys dressed. That’s not an issue whatsoever. The guys who went in tonight did a good job. That’s not a topic in our locker room.” …. Grimaldi’s goal extended his point streak to five games, UND’s longest of the season.