After a hard fought overtime loss at Chestnut Hill, the Boston University men’s hockey team (6-2-0) prevailed 3-1 over the Boston College Eagles (11-3-1) at Walter Brown Arena to earn a series split in the weekend’s Battle of Comm. Ave.
The Terriers again took the ice against the number one ranked Eagles without senior defenseman, and Hobey Baker candidate, David Farrance, starting freshman goaltender Drew Commesso and senior captain Logan Cockerill. Without those key contributors suited up, BU got production from both likely and unlikely names.
“All in all, really excited for the guys,” Head Coach Albie O’Connell said in the postgame press conference. “Really enjoy coaching these guys and every opportunity we have on the ice is kind of a pleasure.”
After sophomore goaltender Ashton Abel got the nod between the pipes on Friday, freshman Vinny Duplessis was given the starting assignment. It was the first collegiate appearance for Duplessis. The native of Quebec, Canada spent last season in the Alberta Junior Hockey League, where he posted a .912 save percentage and a 2.72 goals against average in 40 games for the Whitecourt Wolverines.
In his Scarlet and White debut, Duplessis was excellent. He dealt with traffic in front of his crease for most of the evening and faced a myriad of Eagles’ power play chances. He earned his first career win by snagging 40 out of 41 shots.
The 284th contest between BU and BC, and the first matchup to take place in Walter Brown Arena since December of 2004, was intense from the initial puck drop. The Eagles attempted to throw the young netminder off his game with an early flurry of shot attempts.
Just over four minutes into the game, BU sophomore defenseman Domenick Fensore was called for tripping. While the Eagles had really struggled to find rhythm on the man advantage heading into this series, they did pot a power play goal the night before, and Duplessis and the rest of the Terriers were equal to the task, killing off the five-on-four sequence.
BU got a chance to show off their skill skating up a man when half of BC’s top defensive pairing, sophomore Marshall Warren, was sent to the box for tripping a couple minutes later. The Terriers were unable to capitalize as Eagles sophomore netminder Spencer Knight was his usual solid self.
Around the halfway point of the first, sophomore forward Markus Boguslavsky, coming off a terrific effort the night before, took a slashing penalty. This time, BC was able to cause chaos that Duplessis and the BU penalty killers were unable to contain. A scramble in front of the crease off of a rebound left both freshman defenseman Eman Powell and sophomore Mike Hardman mucking away. Eventually, Powell jammed the puck home, or at least, he thought he had.
The referees went to review and after a deliberation, decided that it was a good goal for the Eagles. The Terriers were looking for the equalizer after freshman forward Harrison Roy was penalized for holding 19 seconds after BC got on the board.
On the man advantage, sophomore defenseman Alex Vlasic was looking to build off his first collegiate score from the previous game. Doing his best David Farrance impersonation, he corralled the puck on the blue-line to keep the play onsides, waltzed down the open lane and fired a shot past Knight. The BU power play score tied the game at one a piece.
The intensity was greatly increased after the Terriers’ killed a power play with under two minutes remaining in the first. Warren was assessed a five minute major and game misconduct for hitting sophomore forward Robert Mastrosimone in the head. Not only was BU awarded five minutes to skate five against four, but one of BC’s top d-men was done for the evening.
The teams were tied 1-1 heading into the first intermission. The Terriers were going to have just under four minutes left on the major penalty when play resumed. But after allowing the earlier power play score, Knight and the Eagles penalty killers buckled down and denied BU grade-A chances. BC grabbed hold of the momentum after the Terriers were unable to capitalize on the major.
The Eagles were playing uber aggressive offensively for most of the evening, with often all three forwards crashing below the goalline. As the broadcasters pointed out, with that gameplan, BU has a good chance of flying the zone and getting an odd man rush.
Sure enough, just past the halfway mark of the second, the Terriers were looking to break down the Eagle’s attack. Junior forward Matthew Quercia laid a tape-to-tape pass to a streaking Wilmer Skoog. The sophomore forward then delivered a slick feed, with extra sauce, to linemate Luke Tuch. The freshman forward ripped the puck past Knight, giving the Terriers their first lead of the night. Tuch’s finish must have left his older brother and former BC Eagle, Alex, in a state of bittersweetness.
Both teams would continue to up the intensity, and the physical play started to jump off the screen. Despite plenty of chances for both sides, the score would remain 2-1 in favor of BU heading into intermission.
At the start of the third, the Terriers wasted no time cushioning their lead. Skoog picked up a loose puck in the neutral zone and sprung into a rush. From the right circle, Skoog served a backhand feed to Tuch, who was driving hard to the net. Tuch then buried his second score of the evening. It was the first time in the series either team had managed to go ahead by multiple scores.
With the momentum in BU’s favor, BC would get a chance to swing the tides after freshman defenseman Cade Webber was assessed a five minute major for cross-checking up high. After not scoring the first three minutes, Hardman was called for hooking and the two teams would skate four on four.
The Eagles, desperate to cut into the Terrier lead, shortened their bench. For much of the period, BC head coach, Jerry York, only rolled his first three lines. Despite the high end talent cowboying over the boards, Duplessis and the Terriers continued to keep the Eagles grounded.
“(Duplessis) is very confident in his ability,” O’Connell said. “Just the way he skated out to start the game, for me, was really reassuring. He was sprinting. He threw a quick little stop. I’m like, “Alright, this kid seems like he’s got it.’”
The last gasp for BC occurred when freshman defenseman Thomas Jarman was banished to the sin-bin for roughing with just over three minutes remaining in regulation. BC pulled Knight and opted for a six on four, knowing that the Terriers could take shots at their empty net and not be called for icing.
The Eagles were unable to muster any goals, and the final from Walter Brown was a 3-1 Terrier win. The BU bench erupted in jubilation and swarmed Duplessis in a congratulatory scrum. Without their star defenseman, starting goaltender, and captain, BU put together quite the 60 minute effort against one of the best teams in the nation.
As far as injuries are concerned, O’Connell said there is a good chance Cockerill will be back Monday. He added that Jake Wise is recovering, and the other skaters are day to day or week to week.
On Tuesday, Hockey East will announce BU’s next opponent. The @BOSHockeyBlog on Twitter will continue to supply coverage when the Terriers’ next series is known.