BOSTON — One week after beating the UMass Lowell River Hawks 9-8-1 in a shootout, the Boston University men’s ice hockey team (10-4-1) lost 2-1 in regulation, ending their Hockey East tournament run after one game. The Terriers entered as the No. 2 seed, but costly turnovers and a stout Lowell defense led to the upset.
The biggest play came with 11:41 left in the third period with the game tied 1-1. A miscommunication behind the net between sophomore defensemen Domenick Fensore and Case McCarthy allowed Lowell forward Reid Stefanson to gain possession of the puck.
His pass bounced awkwardly off teammate Andre Lee’s skate and landed in the left faceoff circle, where forward Brian Chambers was all alone to bury a shot past freshman goaltender Drew Commesso’s glove side. That go-ahead goal would end up being the difference in the tightly contested matchup.
“We said it from Day One: If you turn pucks over at your blue line or their blue line, a lot of times that’s how you lose seasons,” BU coach Albie O’Connell said.
Lowell ultimately outshot the Terriers 76-36 on total attempts, while piling up 29 shots on goal compared to BU’s 17, but with BU blocking 20 shots and Commesso making tricky saves in net, the game stayed close.
Sophomore forward Jamie Armstrong scored the lone goal for the Terriers, and Commesso made 27 saves. Five River Hawk skaters got on the scoresheet with one point apiece while goaltender Henry Welsch picked up the win with 16 saves.
The Terriers didn’t take long to get started, as an odd man rush led by freshman forward Dylan Peterson sparked the first goal just 2:17 into the game. Using his speed to get behind the defense, Peterson had just Welsch to beat, but instead chose to cross the puck to Armstrong trailing on the left side. Armstrong received the pass at the doorstep and pushed the puck in to give the Terriers a 1-0 lead.
Lowell responded quickly, as just over two minutes later, Lowell defenseman Jon McDonald fired a shot from the blue line. Commesso stopped it with his pad, but with no one marking forward Matt Brown, the sophomore knocked in the rebound with ease to knot the score at 1-1.
“We basically gift wrapped them two goals, so you know, you can’t do that if you want to win a championship,” O’Connell said.
Play resumed with neither team dominating possession, but the River Hawks were getting more pucks on net. Through 10 minutes, Lowell had seven shots on goal compared to the Terriers’ two. A handful of River Hawk chances came off sloppy turnovers, but Commesso stood tall, executing acrobatic saves to keep the score even.
The Terriers ramped up the forechecking efforts to try and sway momentum, but the period expired before they could establish a stronger offensive output.
BU came out much stronger in the second period. The River Hawks did their part to clog shooting lanes, so the Terriers did not have as many prime opportunities, but the passing and offensive zone presence improved significantly. With BU taking up most of the possessions, 9:49 passed before Lowell recorded their first shot on goal of the period.
The tide began to turn near the halfway point, as Lowell woke up and started to test Commesso and the defense. A Chambers holding penalty with 7:33 to go halted their offensive run, but with the Terriers unsuccessful on the power play, the score remained 1-1.
The River Hawks picked back up with the offensive pressure following their penalty kill, but the Terriers were successful getting in front of shots, leading 14-3 in the blocked shot count through two periods. Any pucks that did get through were snuffed by Commesso, seemingly unfazed by the mounting pressure.
The period closed with no change in score, but a boarding call against sophomore forward Robert Mastrosimone with 11 seconds left set the River Hawks up with a power play to open the third.
Lowell was unable to capitalize on the man advantage, and play evened out over the first five minutes of the period. The River Hawks returned to the power play after graduate forward Max Kaufman was assessed a penalty for hooking.
The penalty kill got even more contentious when Peterson’s stick snapped, leaving the Terriers with just three skaters with sticks for the last portion of the penalty. Penalty time expired without any score, but just over 90 seconds later, Chambers scored the go-ahead strike off the turnover.
With time running out and urgency picking up, the Terriers had more success with their zone entries, but Lowell responded without giving up dangerous chances. With around a minute and a half left, BU pulled Commesso to bring out the extra skater.
A rush by Chambers nearly iced the game with just 46 seconds left, but he hit the pipe and the Terriers regained possession. Both coaches used their timeouts in immediate succession with 33 seconds left, BU using theirs first. The Terriers generated a few chances in the final seconds, but Lowell held on to secure the 2-1 victory.
“All in all, it’s a pretty disappointing loss,” O’Connell said, “They [Lowell] were really difficult to play verse, you know, especially when they got the lead, they clamped it down pretty tight.”
Now the Terriers have to wait a week to learn the fate of their season. O’Connell believes the Terriers have made their case to be selected for the NCAA tournament, citing the team’s success against Hockey East’s better teams and overcoming multiple stoppages throughout the year.
“It’s our 15th game this year, and it’s the playoffs, so it’s a weird feeling,” O’Connell said, “I think the locker room is pretty bummed out about the result, but hopefully we’re still playing hockey.”