BOSTON — One day after notching a 4-2 victory in Amherst, the Boston University Terriers (3-1-0) returned to Walter Brown Arena for the second leg of a home-and-home series with the University of Massachusetts Minutemen (9-4-2). The Terriers sealed a 4-3 comeback victory in overtime after trailing 3-1 entering the third period.
Senior defenseman David Farrance netted the winning goal on a clean breakaway to garner his eighth point of the season (3g-5a-8p). Forwards Domenick Fensore (1g, 1a) and Nick Zabaneh (2a) added two points apiece to lead the team with Farrance. UMass forward Oliver Chau led the Minutemen with two points (2a) in the game.
BU netminder Drew Commesso allowed three goals and made 44 saves in the winning effort, while UMass goalie Matt Murray made 28 saves on 32 shots on goal.
“I wouldn’t say we had unbelievable legs tonight, but we grinded it out,” BU head coach Albie O’Connell said. “You gotta give guys credit. They took care of themselves. They’re doing the right things and they’re just excited to play hockey.”
With BU snapping the Minutemen’s seven-game winning streak the day prior, UMass came out playing with an aggressive forecheck, eager to avenge the loss. UMass dominated early possession, but the Terriers were able to get into a rhythm after a few minutes.
Just over five minutes in, freshman forward Dylan Peterson scored his second goal in as many days with a quick top shelf shot, cutting in from the right side of the zone to give the Terriers the early 1-0 lead. The possession started with a precise lob clearance from freshman defenseman Thomas Jarman, but it was Cade Webber, another freshman blue liner, who set Peterson up with the primary assist for his first collegiate point.
Continuing their ongoing trend from yesterday, the two sides began trading penalties, with UMass defenseman Anthony Del Gaizo getting called for goaltender interference 10:28 into the period, and BU captain Logan Cockerill getting sent to the box for hooking just 31 seconds later.
A poorly executed line change after the end of Cockerill’s penalty allowed UMass to pounce on a loose puck, where UMass forward Cal Kiefiuck was able to tie the game 1-1 with 6:53 left in the period.
The two sides traded shots for the rest of the opening frame — the Terriers killing off another penalty in the process — and the two sides entered the first intermission locked at one goal apiece.
The Terriers opened the second period with a handful of scoring chances, but it was UMass that ended up striking next as UMass forward Carson Gicewicz continued his hot shooting streak. Gicewicz managed to sneak the puck over a sprawling Commesso to take a 2-1 lead 4:31 into the second period. Gicewicz now has 10 goals on just 31 shots, giving him an astounding 32.3 shooting percentage, the highest rate in Hockey East (minimum 10 shots).
UMass took over the momentum, stringing together multiple strong possessions in a row without letting BU get much offensive zone time. UMass continued to apply pressure, and another failed clearance from BU allowed the Minutemen several good chances with about five minutes left in the period. After two missed shots, forward Jake Gaudet caught Commesso scrambling and rifled the puck in to give UMass a 3-1 lead with 4:52 remaining in the second.
A holding call on Aaron Boehlinger gave the Terriers a chance to regain momentum with 3:19 to go, but they couldn’t capitalize. A few late chances in the offensive zone were snuffed by Murray, and the score remained 3-1 entering the third period.
“When we went into locker room between periods, there’s definitely believability. We’ve got a really good, resilient group. They’re really confident in their abilities,” O’Connell said.
The Terriers received a golden opportunity less than a minute into the third period when Gaudet threw a wild hit on BU’s Cockerill and was assessed a five-minute major penalty for roughing. Cockerill appeared shaken up by the hit and didn’t return to the ice.
O’Connell did not have any updates on Cockerill’s status. Despite netting a five-minute power play that resulted in a goal, O’Connell was disappointed that it cost the team its captain for the remainder of the game.
Just 15 seconds into the power play, Fensore swooped in from the blue line and blasted the puck past Murray to cut the deficit to 3-2. The Terriers got a few more looks on net, but a turnover led to a Matt Kessel breakaway, which drew a slashing penalty from Fensore, ending the man advantage with 2:17 left in Gaudet’s major.
“They took a penalty that put them in a spot to change the game, and we took advantage of it. We’re not gonna feel bad about it; we’re gonna feel good about our effort,” O’Connell said.
After a couple minutes of four-on-four play, the penalties expired and Luke Tuch intercepted a UMass clearance attempt, quickly centering the puck to a perfectly positioned Wilmer Skoog. Skoog sent a one-timer to the back of the net, tying the game 3-3 with 14 minutes left in regulation.
With the game tied and time running low, the possessions ebbed and flowed on either side, each team trying to gain the upper hand. Commesso and Murray continued to bail out their teams with impressive saves.
A controversial interference call against Fensore put UMass on the power play with just over 5:30 left in regulation, but UMass forward Garrett Wait was called for hooking 45 seconds later to wash out the man advantage. The two sides continued to exchange chances down the stretch as time expired, sending the game to overtime.
The two sides traded off possession time in BU’s first look at three-on-three overtime, but Zabaneh gained puck control in the defensive zone and connected with a streaking Farrance on the breakaway. The star defenseman caught Murray on a nifty fake and tucked the puck through the five-hole to win the game 4-3 and earn the weekend sweep.
O’Connell said the team has only practiced three-on-three play twice since September due to all the stoppages and the long breaks, but he touted Zabaneh as the best three-on-three player in practice.
“It’s fun,” O’Connell said of the new overtime format, “I’m sure it’s not fun when you don’t win, but when you win it’s fun, especially when we got some high level guys.”
Riding a three-game win streak, the Terriers are slated to take on Maine this weekend on Jan. 22 & 23, while the Minutemen will move on to face Providence.