TROY, N.Y. - Sophomore Chris Higgins recorded two goals, including the game-tying tally, and added an assist, as the No. 3/6 Boston University menís ice hockey team earned a 4-4 draw in its season opener against RPI on Saturday evening at Houston Field House. The Terriers erased deficits of 3-1 and 4-3 to earn the tie.
The Terriers made a quick statement, scoring in the opening minute of play. However, the lead did not last long. RPI responded with goals 67 seconds between each other to turn the tables just 2:22 into the contest.
The Engineers scored their first of two power-play goals late in the first period to take a 3-1 lead. The Terriers settled down and chipped away at the deficit, using a power-play goal by Higgins in the second period before classmate Steve Smolinsky knotted the contest at 3-3 under five minutes into the third period.
Oren Eizenman ignited the RPI crowd with a power-play tally with 7:32 left in regulation to help the Engineers regain the lead at 4-3. However, the celebration was short-lived, as Higgins scored what would be the final goal of the game just 1:18 later, sliding a puck underneath the legs of Engineersí netminder Mathias Lange.
BU was whistled for 15 penalties on the night, giving the home squad 13 power-play opportunities. Senior netminder John Curry made 33 saves, including several standout stops, to ensure the first draw in a season opener for the Terriers since a 4-4 result against Northern Michigan in the first round of the 2003 Icebreaker Tournament.
Sophomore Brandon Yip scored BUís first goal of the season, sending home a perfect set-up by Higgins outside the crease just 55 seconds after the opening faceoff. Fellow sophomore Jason Lawrence earned his first of three assists on the play.
RPI had a quick answer, as junior Tyler Eaves sent in a rebound off a shot from classmate Jonathan Ornelas just 20 seconds after Yipís goal. The Engineersí second line followed suit just over a minute later when junior Jake Morissette backhanded a shot over Curry to ignite a huge roar from the crowd of 5,152.
After play settled, the Engineers continued to create pressure in the BU zone with great scoring opportunities. However, Curry made a trio of brilliant saves to keep it a one-goal deficit.
Shortly after matching penalties on Yip and RPIís Garrett Vassel, freshman Brian Strait was whistled for a five-minute major for checking from behind with 1:30 left in the opening period. The Engineers took advantage of the resulting 4-on-3 situation, as senior Jake Luthi corralled a loose puck off a rebound and snuck it past Curry to create the gameís first and only multi-goal lead.
The Terriers ended up scoring the lone goal of the second period Ė quite a feat considering how much they spent in the penalty box. During a span of just over 10 minutes, which included the final 1:30 of the opening period, the Terriers were at least one man down for all but 10 seconds. Included in the penalty binge was a 5-on-3 opportunity for RPI that lasted for 1:09.
After finally getting back to even-strength midway through the second period, BU was able to find its rhythm for the first time all evening. Yip set up a great look for junior Pete MacArthur on the doorstep, but Lange was up to the challenge with a tough glove save.
Shortly after the missed opportunity, the visitors were able to enjoy a man-advantage of their own when RPIís Reed Kipp was sent to the box for interference. Senior captain Sean Sullivan set up a look for Lawrence, who fired a shot from the right circle. The puck was initially saved by Lange, but bounced right outside the crease, leaving a wide open shot for Higgins. The sophomore took full advantage of the opportunity, getting the Terriers back to within a goal at 3-2 with 7:28 left in the period.
BU opened the third period in aggressive fashion, looking to scrounge up an equalizer. The Terriersí fourth line came up big, as Smolinsky snuck a puck past Lange on assists from junior Ryan Weston and freshman Luke Popko at the 4:38 mark of the period.
After the teams traded goals, RPI earned the best scoring chance of the final four minutes of regulation, setting up a 3-on-1 rush. Two quick passes resulted in a great chance, but Curry robbed the attempt. In the aftermath of the save, Yip earned a penalty protecting Curry with 3:20 to play. The Terriers buckled down and fought off the penalty to force overtime.
Gryba drew a penalty with 2:23 left in overtime, giving the visitors a great chance to earn the game winner. However, a penalty by senior Tom Morrow cut the power-play short and gave the home team a man advantage for the final 41 seconds of overtime.
RPI was never able to threaten in the final minute and BU was able to control the puck late. A shot by Higgins with four seconds left in overtime went off Langeís glove, ensuring the draw.
The Terriers will return to action on Friday, Oct. 20, for their home opener against cross-town rival Northeastern. Game time is set for 7 p.m.