Frozen Four Notes: BU Overcomes North Dakota With Matt O’Connor, Offense

BOSTON — If you looked at the score after the second period of the Frozen Four matchup between Boston University and North Dakota, you would have wondered if UND even showed up.

But the Terriers’ 4-1 lead after two frames Thursday didn’t at all show what was actually happening on the TD Garden ice.

North Dakota did get off to a sluggish start in the first period, but something clicked for it midway through the frame, and it looked as though it’d be a much closer contest than it was.

“It was exciting to see the way we started playing at a pace and possessing the puck,” BU coach David Quinn said after the Terriers’ 5-3 win. “And I think I looked up at one point, the shots were 7-0, seven minutes into the game.

“But it’s awful hard to sustain that. … You’re playing in the Frozen Four. North Dakota is a really good hockey team. And once we went up 2-0 (in the first period), I thought they turned it up a notch again, a little bit of desperation on their end. Human nature might have kicked in on our end.”

It was Terriers goaltender Matt O’Connor who really made sure the game wasn’t close.

BU did what it does best. Its power-play unit scored twice in the first period. Its offense moved the puck (when it had it) with lightning speed. But even with the lopsided score, North Dakota was outshooting the Terriers 25-21 after two frames. In fact, UND had outshot BU 39-28 by the game’s end.

O’Connor kept the Terriers in the game. He stopped six of UND’s eight grade-A scoring chances, and one that got by him was a freak misplay in which he handed the puck off to North Dakota’s Troy Strecher with the net wide open. And when BU began to unravel as time ticked down in the final frame, O’Connor made every timely save he needed to.

“Our goalie played great,” senior forward Cason Hohmann said. “He rolled four lines. Everyone played phenomenal today. It was a great team effort. North Dakota is a great team, and they came after us with everything they had in the third period. And we weathered the storm. O’C played awesome today.”

Here are some more notes from BU’s win over North Dakota.

— BU will take on Providence on Saturday in an all-Hockey East national championship, which is just the third time that’s happened. The Terriers defeated Maine in the 1995 title game, and Maine was victorious over New Hampshire in 1999.

— This was a chippy game, but things got particularly bad in the final minute and a half. BU’s Evan Rodrigues bumped Stephane Pattyn in the chest with his stick as he skated by, which caused the UND captain to charge him.

Both parties were sent to the box when their respective teams needed them most, and it was obvious they realized their mistakes after the matchup. In fact, this was Pattyn’s response when he was asked if he could talk about what happened: “No, that’s OK.”

— Doyle Somerby picked a great night to score his first goal of the season.

The sophomore defenseman scored the Terriers’ fourth goal on an assist from Brien Diffley.

“Lucky. I wasn’t expecting it,” Sombery said of his goal. “I skated back to the bench to celebrate, and the guys were all laughing. I woke up thinking I was going to play some defense and get the pucks out, but it’s really nice to score.”

And how did he feel when he knew he’d be headed to his first national title game?

“Kinda blacked out after realizing that we punched our ticket,” Somerby said.

Thumbnail photo via Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports Images

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