Returning to action for the first time in three weeks, the Boston University men’s hockey team skated to a 3-0 shutout against Concordia University at Walter Brown Arena on Sunday.
It was BU’s first game back on their previous home ice since 2014, and for head coach Albie O’Connell it was an opportunity to coach at the rink he played in as a Terrier himself in the late 1990s.
“It was kind of strange being in the old locker room,” said the former BU captain. “It’s a lot nicer than when I played.”
Nostalgia gave way when the puck was dropped, and the Terriers got off to a strong start with offensive contributions from a quartet of freshmen forwards in the opening 20 minutes.
Ethan Phillips opened the scoring nine minutes in with a shorthanded goal after Robert Mastrosimone won the puck along the boards in the neutral zone.
Three minutes later, Sam Stevens doubled the Terrier advantage on a cross-ice feed from John Copeland, who gained possession after a Stinger stick snapped in the Concordia defensive zone.
A scoreless second period saw only nine attempts on goal between the two teams, and BU freshman goaltender Ashton Abel — a recent addition for the Terriers — preserved his ten-save clean sheet before being relieved after 40 minutes.
“He looked like he was a veteran back there. I thought he managed the game really well,” O’Connell said about the recruit. “He had to make some tough saves.”
Freshman forward Wilmer Skoog also saw his first action in scarlet and white.
“I thought Skoog, for his first game, was poised,” O’Connell said. “[He] made some plays.”
In the third period, senior goaltender Nico Lynch took over for Abel in the Terrier net and didn’t miss a beat, making 16 saves in his second ever collegiate appearance.
Despite limited action, Lynch seized the moment and made a highlight save midway through the third period on a shorthanded Concordia breakaway. The netminder slid across the crease to deny the scoring opportunity, drawing cheers from BU players and fans alike.
“There was definitely excitement,” O’Connell said with a chuckle. “Nico’s one of the more popular guys on the team.”
Freshman defenseman Alex Vlasic added a shorthanded empty-netter to make the score 3-0 in the game’s final minutes.
As time expired, the Terriers swarmed their senior goaltender.
“It felt really good,” Lynch said with a smile after the game.
With a handful of veteran contributors scratched from the lineup on Sunday, the shutout effort was led by just five upperclassmen to go along with 16 underclassmen.
The head coach saw the game as an opportunity for development.
“A lot of guys that haven’t got a ton of ice time got to play,” O’Connell said.
Continuing non-competitive play, the Terriers will travel west to take on the USA Under-18 Team at USA Hockey Arena in Plymouth, Michigan on Friday at 7 p.m.