BOSTON — Boston University and No. 15 North Dakota came into tonight’s game one game shy of .500, and each team had given up exactly 33 goals this season.
While the Terriers ended up getting the win to even their record, they now have something else in common with their NCHC opponent — an injury to a key player.
In front of 3,882 at Agganis Arena, BU looked very solid in a 3-1 win, but lost junior Cason Hohmann indefinitely due to a shoulder injury that occurred less than a minute after he scored the game’s first goal, as the Terriers took the first of a two-game series.
North Dakota was playing without four forwards due to injury, and played defensemen Gage Ausmus and Andrew Panzarella as the fourth-line left and right wing, respectively.
Sophomore goaltender Matt O’Connor looked sharp with 37 saves, while Danny O’Regan and Kevin Duane scored the other BU goals. North Dakota’s Rocco Grimaldi spoiled O’Connor’s shutout bid with 2:27 remaining.
“Obviously, when you’ve got a two-game weekend, it’s always nice to get the first one under your belt,” BU coach David Quinn said. “I thought we were pretty thorough from start to finish. There were some lapses where I thought they controlled the play a little bit, but we minimized those stretches and did a lot of good things tonight.”
“I thought BU played well tonight,” agreed North Dakota coach Dave Hakstol. “They capitalized on opportunities and did a good job on their power play. We couldn’t find a way to get the first one; we got it a little bit too late to give ourselves a chance.”
Hakstol had no patience with the suggestion that being so injury-riddled was a factor in the loss.
“We had 20 guys dressed,” Hakstol said. “That’s not an issue. It’s not a topic in our locker room.”
The Terriers took the lead halfway through the first period. Off a defensive-end faceoff, Garrett Noonan wrapped the puck around the boards behind the net, and Matt Lane flipped it out of the zone. Hohmann picked it up and raced in on the left wing. The Texan usually favors passing, but this time he beat senior Clarke Saunders with a short-side shot.
Less than a minute later, Hohmann was tripped by one defender just as he got by another, and he went down hard. Quinn said that Hohmann had been struggling all year with shoulder issues, and that the coaches had already been worried about a recurrence.
BU made it 2-0 on a power play after a too-many-men call on the visitors. Garrett Noonan’s stick got checked as he attempted to shoot, and the puck crawled through traffic in the slot before Danny O’Regan knocked it at the far post.
A BU goal by Mike Moran off a Doyle Somerby shot early in the second period got waved off after a video review due to a high stick. There were few serious scoring chances for the rest of the period.
BU made it 3-0 at 4:59 of the third on another power-play goal. This time, 6-foot-5-inch freshman Kevin Duane went to work, backhanding in the rebound of a Matt Grzelcyk shot from the point.
“For the most part, I’m trying to take away the goalie’s eyes and just make sure that when Grzelcyk and [Evan] Rodrigues take shots from the point, they get through, and the goalie doesn’t see it,” Duane said. “The last couple of games, I’ve been able to get the rebound and get a goal out of it.”
“He’s got great reach, obviously,” Quinn said. “Does a good job screening the goalie, quick in small areas. Understands what his role is, and that was a big goal for us.”
North Dakota stepped it up in the last few minutes, and Grimaldi finally scored on a wrist shot from the top of the left-wing faceoff circle. They continued to press with the goalie pulled, but there was no more scoring.
Quinn said that O’Connor will get the nod in goal again on Saturday night, when BU (6-6-0) and North Dakota (4-6-1) will finish the weekend series.