The Boston University men’s hockey team (10-4-2) has reached the end of their season after falling to the St. Cloud State University Huskies (18-10) in today’s NCAA northeast regional semifinal matchup. Following their loss against UMass Lowell in the Hockey East quarterfinals, the Terriers officially have no more hockey left to play.
Fans were sprinkled throughout Times Union Center, marking the first competition with spectators for BU this year. The scarlet and white in the crowd had to be pleased with their team’s start to the game––fast paced and high intensity from the puck drop. Although the 6-2 final score suggests otherwise, the Terriers actually played an impressive opening twenty-plus minutes.
Freshman goaltender Drew Commesso was a bright spot for the team, per usual. He came out of the afternoon with 32 saves, exerting his calming presence and quiet confidence that kept his squad in the competition on various occasions. St.Cloud made a point to stay in BU’s end early in the first, but Commesso had a stop for each of the opponent’s attempts.
With 10:52 remaining in the opening frame, freshman forward Dylan Peterson saw an early conclusion to his rookie season after being assessed a five-minute-major and game misconduct. The call was boarding––Peterson hit senior forward Kevin Fitzgerald into the glass, making some contact up high which ultimately led to the official’s decision.
“Dylan is a big athletic guy, he brings his physicality, he’s got some skill. He was our best player in the one playoff game we had versus Lowell,” O’Connell said of Peterson’s absence in the post game press conference. “It was tough to lose a guy of his caliber at that point, but I think the other guys tried to step up as much as they could.”
Tasked with killing off five minutes of a St. Cloud power play, BU put their bodies on the line with big blocks from sophomore defenseman Case McCarthy and sophomore forward Markus Boguslavsky. Sophomore forward Robert Mastrosimone had a shorthanded break, flying through the neutral zone and crashing the net, but the attempt did not get the Terriers on the board.
BU got their own chance on the man-advantage later on in the period, but the first twenty minutes ended with a 0-0 score and the Huskies leading in shots on goal 15-9.
The Terriers got their first tally eight seconds into the second period in a momentum building goal from sophomore forward Wilmer Skoog. Captain Logan Cockerill stripped a Husky of the puck and dropped it back to Skoog who then knocked it past senior netminder David Hrenak. The play went under review for a possible offsides but was eventually rewarded to BU to give them a 1-0 lead.
A 4:40 high-sticking penalty on senior defenseman David Farrance gave St. Cloud the opportunity to get themselves back in the game, but the Huskies didn’t net the equalizer until 12:14. Junior forward Micah Miller collected a high flying puck from behind the net––that Commesso couldn’t see––and hammered one home from the faceoff circle to tie the game.
Just over a minute later, St. Cloud capitalized once again and claimed their first lead of the matchup. A slapshot from junior defenseman Nick Perbix had some extra stops before finding the back of the net. The puck first deflected off Cockerill’s blocked shot, to then hit the skate of sophomore defenseman Alex Vlasic and then, finally, crossed the goal line.
Junior forward Jake Wise knotted the game at two with a power play goal with a snipe from the left side and 4:32 remaining in the period, but the Huskies were quick to respond. Senior forward Easton Brodzinski launched one passed Commesso from the slot to help his team head into the third with a 3-2 advantage.
The last frame presented an entirely different Terrier team––in a bad way. The group seemed completely drained of all energy and motivation they had earlier in the afternoon, and the period just got worse as the clock ticked down. BU had the chance to change the narrative of the third when sophomore forward Chase Brand got called for a five-minute major.
But, the expected plan to score was derailed after Cockerill interfered with sophomore forward Jami Krannila on the breakaway, who was then appointed a penalty shot. Krannila beat Commesso point blank to make the competition 4-2.
“It looked like a good play by our guy to be honest with you. That was the turning point of the game one hundred percent,” O’Connell said of the play. “I understand the trip, I didn’t understand the penalty shot. That’s a big momentum swing in that game.”
There was really no spark from the Terriers to get anything going in the latter half of the period. A complete contrast to their play earlier in the game, BU looked flat and was unable to create chances to claw back at St. Cloud’s growing lead.
The Huskies added insult to injury, getting two more goals before the final buzzer. Brodzinski scored his second of the matchup after popping one in off a rebound from Commesso’s right pad. Veeti Miettinen claimed the last tally of the afternoon, tipping in a blast from the point and closing the game 6-2.
Sixty minutes of battle, and perhaps some lucky bounces, was the finale for the Terriers in their 2020-2021 campaign. A disjointed season for obvious reasons has left this squad with much to be proud of and a lot to build off of in the future. O’Connell said he was “very proud” of the way his team carried themselves throughout the ups and downs of the year.
It’s a bittersweet goodbye to the seniors and the season. Cockerill summarized this sentiment, “It’s a great group. I love these guys. It’s just tough to go out this way.”