BOSTON — It was a night of firsts for the Boston University Terriers (0-1-0) as the team played their first game of the 2020-21 with eight players making their first appearance for the Scarlet & White against the Providence College Friars (4-3-2) in Walter Brown Arena.
There was plenty of buzz entering the season-opener, and not from the empty stands. The telecast audio crackled all night long, much to the annoyance of the BU fanbase. Yet somehow, that was not the worst disaster of the night.
After taking a 3-1 lead 25 minutes into the game, the Terriers let up six unanswered goals down the stretch as the Friars attacked the BU defense with relentless pressure, eventually winning the contest 7-3 while putting up an astounding 54 shots on goal compared to BU’s 21.
“All in all, it was alright. It’s a frustrating one,” BU head coach Albie O’Connell said. “Kind of could have predicted it in a lot of different ways… I love our team, I’m not gonna say anything negative about one guy, our team. We’re trying to learn a little bit about what we’re about.”
O’Connell liked how the Terriers fought, but expressed how clear it was that the team is not in shape.
The Terriers got off to a rusty start, as freshman goaltender Drew Commesso let in the first shot he faced as a collegiate netminder. The shot came off the stick of Chase Yoder in front of the net just one minute and 47 seconds into the game.
More adversity struck as Union College transfer Joseph Campolieto was called for tripping less than a minute after Providence took the lead, but the BU penalty kill hunkered down and killed their first penalty of the season.
After things settled down, BU couldn’t capitalize on their first power play attempt, but after Jamie Engelbert was called for hooking three minutes later, Jay O’Brien was able to exact revenge on his former team to open the Terrier scoring and tie the game 1-1 9:17 into the game.
Luke Tuch then scored his first collegiate goal off a beautiful spin-o-rama pass from David Farrance 10:49 into the game to give the Terriers a 2-1 lead, which they carried into the first intermission.
Things looked off in the beginning of the second, as mounting pressure from the Friars caused coach O’Connell to use his timeout just a minute and a half into the period. The Terriers were able to stabilize, and play went on with a flurry of Friar shots before sophomore defenseman Sean Driscoll was able to notch his first collegiate goal on a beautiful shot from the point that beat Providence goaltender Jaxson Stauber on the top shelf, giving BU a 3-1 lead.
Providence continued to pepper Commesso with shots, as the Terriers barely got out of their fourth penalty kill alive, but Providence’s Tyce Thompson scored his fourth goal of the season right when the penalty expired to cut the lead to 3-2.
Just 51 seconds later, Yoder tied the score 3-3 with his second goal of the game, giving the Friars all the momentum with 10 minutes left in the period.
BU had a chance to get some of that momentum back with three consecutive minutes on the power play — the middle minute with a 5-on-3 advantage — but could only muster one shot on goal.
Not even a full minute later, the Friars got their own chance at a 5-on-3 advantage after Jamie Armstrong was called for high-sticking while Jake Wise got called for unsportsmanlike conduct arguing the call. The Friars capitalized as Max Crozier gave the Friars a 4-3 lead with 3:30 left in the second period.
The Terriers opened the third period with a string of hard hits, using physicality to try to set the tone, but things quickly began to unravel.
A roughing penalty from freshman forward Nick Zabaneh allowed the Friars to score their second power play goal of the night, and Brett Berard scored his first collegiate goal two minutes later to extend the Friar lead to 6-3. Drew Commesso was then relieved by sophomore Ashton Abel with 12:10 left in the game, finishing his collegiate debut with 38 saves on 44 shots faced.
From there, the Friars made the game 7-3 as Patrick Moynihan put a back door pass in on a gaping net with just under six minutes remaining, and the game slowly drew to a close.
“I think it’s important for us to not get mad at each other, get mad at our game, but we’re gonna have to take a look at some film and fix the mistakes and kind of find our identity as a team,” BU captain Logan Cockerill said.
Notably absent on the Terrier side were Case McCarthy, Robert Mastrosimone, Wilmer Skoog Sam Stevens and Markus Boguslavsky.
“You have guys getting hurt, they haven’t played a lot. You got guys getting sick, but the reality is those guys will be available to us pretty quick,” O’Connell said. He added most of those five should be back as early as tomorrow’s game.
It’s clear the Terriers are still working to get back into their game legs; the BU team collectively looked slower and slower as the game wore on. With this being their first game since Mar. 7, it makes sense. Still, after giving up a 3-1 lead in such a quick fashion, the Terriers have a lot to figure out as they will continue to face teams with more games under their belt.
The Terriers will aim for their first victory tomorrow in Providence.