Boston University defenseman Alexx Privitera found himself facing a blizzard of boos from the sold-out Ralph Engelstad Arena Saturday night.
But regardless of what sparked the “Zdeno Chara treatment,” Privitera used it to fuel what coach Jack Parker called his best game in a BU uniform.
The sophomore defenseman assisted forward Matt Lane on the game-winning goal and finished a plus-2, as the No. 12 Terriers (4-2) ambushed No. 5 North Dakota (3-2-1) with three goals in the last 4:21 to capture a 4-2 victory.
The win earned BU a split and its first-ever victory in Grand Forks in eight tries.
Privitera first denied knowing where the boos came from, but later admitted to a brief altercation with a student fan from the penalty box Friday night in which he reportedly hit a student with a stick in response to comments made by the student during a Privitera penalty.
“It might have something to do with a stick in the penalty box,” Privitera said to reporters. “But just keep that between you and me.”
Asked about the comparison to how Montreal fans greet Boston Bruins’ defenseman Zdeno Chara, Privitera wasn’t sure what that meant, but seemed to enjoy it.
“You know, I actually kind of liked it,” Privitera said. “Hopefully, when we play [Boston College] next weekend, they’ll want to boo us or me.”
On the game-winning goal, Privitera rocketed out of his own zone, then passed ahead to Lane, who found a seam in the UND defense and roofed his first career goal to send the Terriers back to Boston with a victory.
“Pretty much a play of nothing turned into something,” Privitera said.
The Terriers knew they had to capture momentum early, but instead the UND got a puck luck goal when Stephane Pattyn’s shot deflected off the back wall, then caromed into the net off the back of freshman goaltender Matt O’Connor’s skate at 4:43.
BU tied it just 42 seconds into the second on a Wade Megan goal that Zane Gothberg (29 saves) couldn’t quite handle, but Corban Knight saucered a centering pass from behind the net to a wide open Kristo, who beat O’Connor five hole. Knight’s assist on the go-ahead goal was his 100th career point.
O’Donnell nearly had a breakaway goal towards the end of the second to make it a two goal game, but was stifled by O’Connor, who made a big save at a big time for the Terriers. The 6-foot-5 goaltender made 26 saves in his fourth appearance of the season.
“Obviously, it’s a different game if we’re able to make it a two-goal game in the third,” said UND coach Dave Hakstol.
Unlike Friday night, when North Dakota took a lead and clamped down hard on BU, the Terriers kept fighting and kept UND from sustaining anything in the second half of the game. Instead, BU outshot UND 21-17 in the final two periods and finished with a 33-28 shots advantage.
“Our ability to move the puck out of our own zone and then make some plays at center ice without letting them shut us down at center ice was the key to the game,” said Parker. “For the most part, we moved the puck out of our zone pretty well. Against this club, you got to get it over your own blue line. You got to play in their end and we played in their end the second half of the game.”
The Terriers tied it at 14:39 of the third when Matt Nieto took a drop pass from Danny O’Regan from the point and feathered one past Gothberg.
Then two goals just 11 seconds apart took advantage of a capitulating North Dakota defense, who had to that point looked poised to force overtime.
Lane’s goal came at 18:10 and before anyone knew what had happened, O’Regan took advantage of a ill-advised defensive zone pass from Nick Mattson, intercepting the pass and scooting around Gothberg for the 4-2 lead that wouldn’t be relinquished.
“I think it was just kind of us mentally breaking down a little bit,” Knight said. “I think we got pretty sloppy there and kind of took our foot off the gas pedal. They made some nice plays and were able to capitalize.”
Knight added that UND’s inability to get Saturday night wins (the team is 0-2-1 this season) won’t be easy to overcome if they don’t solve it soon.
“We haven’t been able to close out a game on Saturday nights,” Knight said. “In this league, you need to be able to do that. I think it’s something we need to figure out and figure out real fast or else it’s going to be a long haul for this team for the rest of the year.”