BOSTON -- Youth was served Saturday night, when two of the nation's youngest college hockey teams went head-to-head at Agganis Arena. But even extra time couldn't separate the two intrastate rivals, as the UMass Minutemen stormed back from a 2-0 deficit against 10th-ranked Boston University to secure a 2-2 tie and a point in this Hockey East matchup, spoiling the Terriers' home opener.
"I thought we played extremely well the first 10 minutes of this game," said BU coach Jack Parker. "I hate to say it, but the worst thing that happened to us is that we got those two goals."
It was the young guns of the Terriers (their average age is 20.3 years) who had the extra gear early, putting the freshmen-laden Minutemen (average age, 20.7) in a 2-0 hole midway through the opening period. UMass was even younger than advertised, as senior goaltender Paul Dainton didn't make the trip to Boston. The captain got hurt in last weekend's game against Minnesota, forcing UMass coach Don "Toot" Cahoon to go with freshman Jeff Teglia in goal.
Making matters worse for UMass, BU brought back forwards Corey Trivino and Alex Chiasson from suspension, and the two quickly figured in the Terriers' first goal. At the 4:32 mark, Chiasson collected the puck from Trivino behind the net and slipped a slick pass out to freshman Matt Nieto in the slot, who rifled a one-timer over Teglia's glove. The strike was Nieto's first collegiate goal.
Six minutes later, the Terriers doubled their lead, with co-captain Chris Connolly capitalizing on a great effort by linemates Charlie Coyle and co-captain Joe Pereira in the right corner. Coyle, the first-round draft choice of the San Jose Sharks, flipped the puck out to Connolly, and the junior winger calmly walked toward the right harsh mark and ripped a low wrister through a screen, beating Teglia under his blocker.
BU continued to buzz the Minutemen's goal to open the second stanza, threatening to run UMass out of the building, but Teglia stood tall, shutting down a Terrier power play and absolutely robbing Sahir Gill with a spectacular glove save.
"He's a battler," said Cahoon of his freshman goaltender. "He's not afraid to compete, to put himself in a position to make a difference."
Not to be outdone, BU goalie Kieran Millan came up with a dandy pad stop on a wide-open Conor Sheary after the Terrier defense coughed up the puck with nine minutes to go. Millan was sharp again to start the third, sliding across the crease to stuff Rocco Carzo at the doorstep. However, the momentum had shifted and the Minutemen finally broke through at the 3:16 mark. Sophomore defenseman Darren Rowe collected the puck at the right point and fired it through several legs, and past a screened Millan to cut the BU lead in half. Teglia kept the Minutemen close with a stellar glove save off a Pereira backhand four minutes later.
At the 11:14 mark, the Minutemen knotted the game on a terrific individual effort by Sheary. Picking the puck up at the blue line, Sheary drove to the net before laying off a soft, backhand pass to linemate Marc Concannon. The senior from Everett, Mass., lunged at the puck, slapping it between Millan's legs.
"The kids just stayed with it," said Cahoon. "I don't want us playing on our heels. If we play on our heels, our youth will show. I want to see us playing on our toes."
BU had one glorious chance to steal the win with 10 seconds left in overtime, when Nieto broke free on a breakaway. But the freshman's shot sailed wide to Teglia's right when he was hit by UMass defenseman Conor Allen, and BU's appeals for a penalty shot fell on deaf ears. Instead, Allen was sent to the box for slashing and UMass ran out the clock, preserving the team's first point of the season to stand at 0-2-1. BU, which swept Wisconsin and Notre Dame in last week's Ice Breaker tournament in St. Louis, fell to 2-0-1.