Terriers knock off No. 8/12 Northeastern 6-3 in first half finale

Dom Fensore celebrates his second-period goal. Photo by Jenna VanSickle.

The Boston University men’s hockey team overcame Northeastern University 6-3 at Agganis Arena on Saturday night to conclude their slate of competitive fixtures in 2019.

“Through the ups and downs of the first half, ending with a win was really important for us tonight,” said BU junior forward Patrick Harper.

Harper got the Terriers (6-6-5, 4-3-4 Hockey East) on the board 7:13 into the game, streaking through the heart of the Northeastern (10-5-2, 6-4-1 Hockey East) defense and flipping one past graduate goaltender Craig Pantano.

Working with freshman defenseman Case McCarthy to assist the score, freshman forward Trevor Zegras earned his tenth helper as a Terrier.

“He’s a special player,” Harper said about Zegras. “It’s easy to play with him.”

Northeastern broke through early in the second when junior forward Zach Solow and senior forward John Picking both scored from close range within the first 45 seconds of the period.

“We just didn’t have any coverage out front,” said BU head coach Albie O’Connell. “I think they scored a couple easy goals, to be honest with you.”

Sophomore forward Jack DeBoer responded for BU 40 seconds later, connecting from the left circle for his first score of the season. Junior forward David Farrance and senior forward Gabe Chabot had the last touches before DeBoer found the back of the net.

The Huskies were not done just yet, regaining the lead a minute and a half later when freshman forward Aiden McDonough converted a second-chance effort on the power play.

Undeterred, the Terriers leveled again when Zegras picked a Husky pocket and slid a pass to Harper, who buried his second of the game and the fifth goal in 4:17 to start the second.

“He’s gotta be one of the best players in the country,” said O’Connell of his assistant captain. “He’s taken his game to another level.”

On the other bench, Northeastern head coach Jim Madigan was frustrated with his team’s performance all night.

“I thought our manager did a good job, and our equipment manager did a good job … but not much after that.”

Freshman forward Robert Mastrosimone put the Terriers on top with 6:10 left in the frame off of a rebound created by senior forward Patrick Curry, with a secondary assist credited to freshman forward Ethan Phillips.

The lead was doubled less than two minutes later on an individual effort by freshman defenseman Dom Fensore, forcing a turnover in the NU end and sniping one top-right from the slot.

“We were just really sloppy with the puck,” said Madigan. “You can’t play shinny hockey, and that’s what we did.”It was Zegras again who set up the Fensore strike, making for his first three-assist night with BU.

“He was electric tonight,” said O’Connell, who also noted, “he does some interesting things on the ice. I think he put the puck between his legs and shot it three times tonight.”

Holding a two-goal lead into the third period, BU fended off four third-period Northeastern power plays, thanks in part to the play of graduate goaltender Sam Tucker, who made 37 saves in the game.

“We’ve been … really starting to find our identity in the defensive zone,” the netminder said.

In Harper’s mind, the defensive game plan was a bit simpler.

“We just let the brick wall take care of it,” he said, in reference to Tucker.

Defending the third of the four penalties, sophomore forward Matt Quercia made it six with an empty-netter, stealing the puck and sending it in from his own blue line with 2:21 to play.

Victorious against Northeastern for the first time in 13 months, BU’s six goals were the most scored in a meeting with the Huskies since February 28, 2015.

“It was a good team win,” said O’Connell. “I’m happy for the guys, they put in a great effort.”

The win brought BU within a point of Northeastern, who went into the game atop Hockey East but fell to a three-way tie for second with the loss to BU. On 12 points in 11 conference games, the Terriers sit two points shy of the new leaders: the University of Massachusetts at Lowell.

“They were two huge league points,” Coach O’Connell said.

With 17 games in the books, BU will now go three weeks before their next contest.

“We don’t play a game for a long time, so we finished on a good note,” said O’Connell.

BU will be back in action at the end of the month as they host Concordia for an exhibition match at Walter Brown Arena on December 29.

15 thoughts on “Terriers knock off No. 8/12 Northeastern 6-3 in first half finale”

  1. Getting two convincing wins against top-ten teams is an excellent way to end the semester. Seems like the shuffling of the top two lines has made a big difference.

  2. First game attended this year. Was pleasantly surprised. Terriers give up a lot of possession and shots but seem to be able to withstand it and hit on the counter break with great skill, passing and playmaking ability. Harper in particular was terrific as was that line with Zegras. Amazed that they were shut out two games in a row (probably not consistent which is a problem with young teams.) Need to clean up play in own end, lots of giveaways let to 2 NU goals. McCarthy especially seems to be struggling in his own end. Overall team was impressive to me on this night (imagine if we still had Bowers and Farabee? and hopefullt Cockerill will return. That’s why is so important for the program to be able to retain players for a while.

    • Glad you made it Vito. I agree with you – plenty of bright spots, but some re-occuring errors that proved costly. On your point about retaining players, I think those growing pains for young guys, like McCarthy, are indications that they’re still developing into the college game and (at this rate) should be multi-year players.

      • yeah but Brady can we keep the high end players like Zegras? that should be part of the deal that the coaching staff makes with any incoming players. They’re the difference makers and should be told that if they want to represent BU and get a free ride for an education then they must give something of real value to the program , (like staying a few years and helping the team win some hardware?) . They must be willing to put their pro career ambitions on hold for a while, I don’t think that’s too much to ask, do you?

        • Hmm… in an ideal world, that’s probably the way it should be done. The problem is, there are so many programs these days that hunt the top talent regardless of the likely length of their college careers, so if BU tries to make their players commit to staying for four years, they’ll just find somewhere else to play that will allow them more freedom. It’s a tricky balance for sure.

  3. Vito right on with his comment. The team D is off because of the lack of experience and team continuity. It must be shored up to become an upper tier team in hockey. Is Armstrong the difference in the first line ? Maybe. The fact that we are off for so log is really disturbing. The lack of butts in the seats all over college hockey has many reason but one has to be no big games at this time of year Why no tournament during Christmas time. As the price of admission is so much lower for college I had seen many fathers taking their very young sons to games in the past as a sort of “Christmas present” or just to bond. Saw that at Walter Brown many many times and even a few time gave extra tickets away when they need same at the many times sold out Brown. No, the game is not being promoted at all. Yet the Athletic Directors are put on a pedestal as if their were the deity or something. Anyway, looking forward to next year and maybe I will trek down to Brown for the exhibition game. A trip for me but maybe a reunion with all the guys I used to meet.

  4. In today’s college hockey the way things are set up with the NHL rights you have to expect kids are going to leave early if the NHL comes calling. I have said it before I can’t blame a kid for chasing his dream and for the money and the potential for a lot of money sooner rather then later. All this said at this point I think Zegras comes back next year just to fine tune his game. I also believe as I have stated many times this freshman class will have quite a few 3 and 4 year guys which will help with team chemistry and experience. We just beat a good program a program who has had our number for the past few years. I’m excited for the future of bu but I’m most looking forward to the second half we have a great team and I’m not worried about our Defense I like our Defense what other team has a David Farrence I think he is a Hobby Baker candidate. We also have Fensore his game is electric he’s one of the best college skaters I have seen he plays shut down D and when he’s on the ice he’s a one man breakout. Crotty has been dinged up but his game is starting to come back to the level we are used to. A kid who flies under the radar is Kotkansalo he is a excellent Defenseman who plays hard and smart excluding his one bad penalty this year. As to our freshman Defenseman they are being put in a tough spot and I think they are doing just fine and will only continue to get better. I’m so happy for the kids to have beaten a god northeastern team a team with the polar opposite character as us. Our kids have class they care about our program there school community and the folks who support them. Yesterday’s family skate was as usual a great experience it’s easy to like these kids they are all great kids and they give it 💯 percent all the time and play the game the right way. Happy holidays Brady and staff I’m looking forward to second half. Go bu 🐾

    • Happy holidays to you too Colin! I’m glad to hear the team has won you over – I think there is certainly still work to do, but the way they finished the first half was undoubtedly encouraging.

  5. Let’s pump the brakes a little there. A great team? A great team doesn’t get shutout for 2 straight games. A great team would be far above 500. Zegras is gone after the season. Have you seen the way he plays? He doesn’t make the simple play when a flashy play is available. Yes, they finished with 2 good wins at home. Let’s see how the 2nd half goes before we lay the great label on them. It’s always sunny on Comm ave. Tk out!!

    • Here’s a question for you TK – Like you said, Zegras makes the flashy plays when sometimes the simpler play would have been the better option. If you’re Anaheim, wouldn’t you want him to make those mistakes and learn those lessons in college? We’re half a season in and he hasn’t changed much in that regard. I think improved decision-making and increased physicality are the two leading reasons for him to return to BU next season, but obviously, there’s still a long way to go.

      • Brady, try to leave your emotions out of this. Of course, we’d all like Zegras to stay. However, given BU’s recent track record with early departures, I think that a betting man would put money on Zegras enjoying some sun in Southern California next season. Even though it is always sunny on Comm Ave. TK out!!!

  6. Tk it is sunny on comm ave we won two big games and yes I like our team I like the strides we have made and throughout the season we have improved and I do see great things coming. When I say we are young and to have patience I’m criticized, and when we win against two quality opponents I’m told to relax we still are sub par .I’m criticized for being optimistic. I always want our kids to do well but I stick with them through thick and thin. We are trying to build a program here. I have said it before we are dealing with kids here not pros they work very hard at not only hockey but school and community so they will always get my support. You have a point on Zegras he does try to make the highlight reel play to much which is not uncommon for a kid his age with his ability but as coach said they give him a little extra leeway. because they know what he can do . This is exactly why I think he may come back. I think his talent is still raw and it’s just my own opinion that perhaps his best move might be to come back next year. I think it’s important to always remember we are talking about kids many of which will go on to pro hockey carriers but some won’t get that opportunity but rest assured they will enter society as successful professionals I know these kids they are great young men they make the university look good. We do have a great team on and off the ice tk jump on board the train I think we will have a good second half. Go bu 🐾

  7. This idea that the climate of college hockey today is that you can’t retain your best players is a lot of nonsense IMO. Denver , for example was able to retain its ENTIRE team a few years ago after winning a nat’l title and York had tremendous success at BC , winning 4 Nat’l championships because he insisted and urged his players to stay 4 years and graduate. BU just has the reputation of accepting incoming players who have little interest in college , don’t want to study, and they know will walk after a year. The players take advantage of this. This became more pronounced under Quinn who allowed this because he knew he was going to leave and didn’t care about the long term affect this would have on the program. He even went along with the dissolution of the Friends of Hockey. BU is a very desirable place for young players to go because of the programs’ reputation still and few will walk and go elsewhere ( where will they go?) if the coaching staff insists that they be STUDENTS as well as athletes. The incoming player who walks after one year really has little impact on the program ( even an Eichel since the team did so well his year because the team already had many good returning players like Rodrigues, O’Regan, Oksanen, Grezlyck, Lane, ect. who were just as instrumental.) In fact a great player who will walk is only very valuable in this situation to put a team over the top. Four or five together as freshman who will walk just sets the program back.

Comments are closed.