After a disappointing showing in their first home game since February 6th, The No. 8 Boston University Men’s hockey team (10-3) looked to get back on track on the road against the Merrimack Warriors (5-11-2). Playing at Lawler Arena in North Andover, the Terriers put together a solid performance from their forwards, defensemen, and their goaltender to come away with a 4-2 Saturday evening victory.
Drew Commesso started for the first time since a win over Maine on January 23rd. The freshman was solid between the pipes, only getting beat for goals twice. He finished his night making 25 saves and posting a .926 save percentage.
“I thought (Commesso) was poised,” BU head coach Albie O’Connell said postgame. “Overall, it was a good performance. He made all the saves he had to, and then he made a couple more.”
Once the puck was dropped, both teams’ defenses denied their opponents from establishing offensive rhythm. For the first six minutes, neither team was able to create consistent pressure in their offensive zone. Then a BU icing opened the door for Merrimack.
Sophomore defenseman Jacob Modry muscled the puck to Filip Forsmark on the near wall. The sophomore forward then glided into an unoccupied space and found defenseman Patrick Holway wide open near the blue-line. Holway ripped a shot that was deflected by Liam Walsh and in.
The sophomore forward got position on sophomore defenseman Domenick Fensore in-front of the crease. Commesso could not react to the tip in-front and the Warriors drew first blood 7:34 into the contest. Walsh had his second goal in as many games against the Terriers.
Soon after the opening score, freshman forward Luke Tuch was called for interference. Merrimack was looking at a golden opportunity to repeat their first period offense from the previous evening. But Commesso and the Terriers were strong on the penalty kill, and Tuch exited the box with the score remaining 1-0.
Towards the end of the period, the Terriers were still on the search for the equalizer. With forward Max Kaufman out of the game, the lines were shaken up. Markus Boguslavsky found himself on a line with fellow sophomores Wilmer Skoog and Robert Mastrosimone.
“I thought the forwards were really good,” O’Connell said. “I think you can go up and down our lineup up front and just say that we had a lot of contributions. Whether it be defensively, or offensively, or physicality.”
With the puck loose behind the goal-line, Skoog corralled the rubber and scooted into the left face-off circle. The Swede then whipped a back-handed attempt on goal that goaltender Zachary Borgiel knocked down but could not control.
The freshman left a juicy rebound out in front. Boguslavsky pounced on the puck and shoved home the game tying score. The sophomore potted his 4th score of the year. BU knotted the game at 1-1, and the period would end with no further scores from either squad.
Once the second period was underway, the Terriers started the frame with great pressure. The first 6 minutes, BU was cultivating a great offensive rhythm. With another make-shift line, the Terriers found the back of the net.
Sophomore forward Jay O’Brien got control of the puck on the far boards and dished it over to Case McCarthy. The sophomore defenseman had plenty of ice to maneuver into. With Jamie Armstrong, and Matthew Querica mucking things up in front of the crease, McCarthy fired an attempt from the tops of the right circle. The puck found its way home through a maze of bodies, and the Terriers grabbed the lead for the first time in the series with 14:10 remaining in the second.
The rest of the period, a myriad of penalties were called on both teams. Despite many terrific scoring chances, neither team could find the back of the net on the power play. One prime opportunity on the man advantage came with Marrimack’s captain, Chase Gresock, watching from the sin bin with under two minutes remaining in the period.
After a nifty stickhandling display by, who else, David Farrance, Logan Cockerill found himself all alone on top of the crease. The BU captain could not bury the shot, and the senior put his hands on his head and looked up to the Heavens incredulously. After the Terriers misfired on two passes, which led to icings, the power play and period expired practically simultaneously. BU was up 2-1 going into the final 20 minutes.
Early on in the final frame, BU was given another chance on the power play. Despite sustained offensive zone-time, the Terriers again came up empty on the man-advantage. For the third time in the contest, the Warriors were effective on the PK.
Now on the first line, Mastrosimone was carrying over the tenacity he had been showing all game long, especially on the penalty kill. As he was all night, he was being a menace and caused a turnover under the goal-line. He scooped up the loose puck and fountain Cockerill in the slot. The captain buried his own rebound attempt and gave BU a 3-1 lead 5:46 into the period.
But the Warriors responded with a push of their own. Sophomore defenseman Zach Vinnell effectively rushed up the ice and found Forsmark streaking on the right wing. From the right circle, his back-handed attempt snuck past Commesso and in. Just a minute after Cockerill’s score, Merrimack was again only down one.
Afterwards, Commesso picked up his game and denied multiple Warrior grade A chances to keep the Terriers up a score. With just over six minutes left, he came up with a massive save, denying the Warriors on a two-on-one rush. The goaltender was effective throughout the game but especially when BU needed him the most.
Just over five minutes left, Mastrosimone was in a breakaway race with defenseman Zach Uens after a feed from O’Brien sprung him loose. The sophomore forward was able to crash the drive and finish with an insurance tuck. Mastrosimone and Uens both got popped with matching minor roughings after the forward and defenseman got involved in some extracurricular activities.
“I thought Mastro was arguably our best player, maybe one of the best players on the ice,” O’Connell said. “He was dangerous, he was hitting guys, he was all over the place. He probably could have ended with five or six (points). I thought he was our best player last night, so hopefully this is a good sign of him starting to really come.”
After no team found the back of the net on the four-on-four, Merrimack pulled their goaltender down two with 1:50 left. The Warriors then called timeout. While they kept the puck in BU’s zone for much of the last two minutes, Commesso and the Terriers closed the game strong and did not allow another Warrior score.
The 4-2 victory was important for BU after a poor showing in the first game of the series.
On Tuesday, Hockey East will announce the Terriers’ last matchup of the regular season. Follow @BOShockeyblog on Twitter for coverage.