In a nail biting finish to a hard fought game, the Boston University men’s hockey team (5-2) fell 4-3 to the Boston College Eagles (11-2-1) in the first of two matchups of the Battle of Comm. Ave.
The Terriers were without some of their key players tonight, most notably, senior defenseman David Farrance––the Hobey Baker nominee who averages 2.33 points a game. Freshman goaltender Drew Commesso who has been BU’s starter this season, as well as captain and senior forward Logan Cockerill, also did not skate with the team. Nonetheless, BU posted an impressive night with the guys they had.
“Dave is one of the best players in the country and would we have liked to have him? Yeah, we would. But we were missing a lot of other guys too and I’m just proud of the group that played,” Head Coach Albie O’Connell said in the post game press conference.
Sophomore netminder Ashton Abel saw the crease for the first time since coming in for Commesso in the Terrier’s first game of the season against Providence. He had an outstanding game, making 29 saves, and coming up big for his team throughout the competition.
BC had a major addition to their line up; sophomore forward Alex Newhook returned after being sidelined by an upper body injury for the past six games. He made his presence known up and down the ice, until the final buzzer.
The first penalty of the game was taken by freshman forward Dylan Peterson on a hooking call, but power plays aren’t always good news for the Eagles. They have the best 5-on-5 play in the country, producing 80% of their goals. However, they have had more short handed goals (6) than power play goals (4) this season. The man-advantage has only made up 7% of their offensive production thus far.
The Terriers were able to kill off the penalty, but BC found a way to capitalize seconds after Peterson left the box. A shot from sophomore defenseman Drew Helleson was deflected in front by junior forward Jack McBain and trickled past Abel for his fourth of the season, giving the Eagles a 1-0 lead.
Soon after, sophomore defenseman Domenick Fensore had a date with the boards, hitting them hard at full speed. He went straight to the locker room with 7:28 left in the opening period, and did not return for the remainder of the first.
The Scarlet and White went on the powerplay with less than two minutes to play in the opening frame, and the absence of Farrance was definitely felt. No goals were produced. BC had a shorthanded chance in the last seconds from Newhook which Abel shouldered away––a momentum saving stop.
The second period had a high compete level as both groups really found their game after the preliminary twenty minutes. Fensore returned to the ice after sitting out for the second half of the first, and hopped right back into the action.
BU tied the game at 16:45 with a goal from junior forward Jack DeBoer who jammed the puck past star sophomore goaltender Spencer Knight at the doorstep. The team’s first tally was assisted by sophomore forward Sam Stevens.
A little over two minutes later, DeBoer earned himself another point, with a swinging pass to sophomore forward Markus Boguslavky who sniped it from the face-off circle. The goal gave the Terriers their first lead of the night, and gave the fourth line their second goal of the game.
“I thought our fourth line was terrific, scoring two goals. They played the right way the entire game,” O’Connell said.
After not scoring––and not even producing a shot on goal––on their third power play of the game, BC finally found a way to get one to the back of the net on their fourth man-advantage. Sophomore defenseman Sean Driscoll was sent to the box for interference, allowing sophomore forward Matt Boldy to snap one past Abel and tie the game.
The rivalry definitely gave both team’s play a little edge, and BU took advantage of their size. Freshman forward Luke Tuck laid out Newhook in the defensive zone and sophomore defenseman Alex Vlasic was extremely physical in cutting off skating lanes for the Eagle’s forwards.
The second period ended with BC leading 3-2 after a scramble in front of the net. Freshman forward Colby Ambrosio whacked the puck through the heaps of red jerseys in the crease and got his sixth of the season.
BU needed to come out focussed in the third to keep themselves in the game, and that’s exactly what they did. Coming off a gritty first two periods, Vlasic was finally rewarded with his first collegiate goal. A slap shot from the blue line on the power play, and a screen from Tuch in front knotted the match at 3.
The (BC) announcers seemed very concerned about the Terrier’s “tired legs” throughout the game, but the squad maintained their energy and never took their foot off the gas. After a week off, BU was able to meet the compete level of a team that played just last Tuesday.
A glimmering opportunity was handed to BU as freshman forward Trevor Kuntar got two minutes for goaltender interference with just 2:49 left in regulation. However, they could not cash in on the timely power play and the Battle of Comm. Ave was sent to overtime.
This free hockey was BU’s third time being in an overtime situation this season––the group excelled in their last two meetings with the open ice play, winning both games. They created some solid chances for themselves tonight and it looked like the victor of competition was going to have to be determined in a shootout, until the last couple of seconds.
Helleson was the hero for his Maroon and Gold team, weaving through the BU players and sliding the puck past Abel’s left pad with just 0.1 second remaining. His last minute goal lifted BC to their eleventh win and awarded them with two out of the available three points this game offered.
Although not the desired outcome, the Terrier’s performance tonight demonstrated the depth and skill this team really has. They rose to the occasion, played one of their best games of the season without key players, and have another shot at victory tomorrow. In terms of getting players back in the lineup, O’Connell said there were no updates.
The two teams will take the short trip down Commonwealth Avenue tomorrow for another 7:00pm puck drop, but this time in Walter Brown Arena. @BOSHockeyBlog will have live coverage of the game as the Terriers try to get back in the win column.