Cloudy finish to BU men’s hockey season after NCAA semifinal loss

Photo by Caroline Fernandez

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.” 

17 thoughts on “Cloudy finish to BU men’s hockey season after NCAA semifinal loss”

  1. Great job by coach to get us this far.
    Not having games and practice until New year plus all kinds of changes in roster and we still make NCAA’s. How did he do it ?
    Not scoring goals a problem last two games but talent there for next year in that department. Goalie needs a lot of work on concentration for whole game. First goal I believe was out of play; second off our guy plus the very poor call on penalty shot hurt at the time. Needed more cycle from forwards and Ferrance not a factor after injury for some reason.
    Cockerill coming back maybe ?McCarthy had very poor game on D.
    With so many coming back hope for next year for sure.
    Crazy season.

  2. The sad part is that game was winnable—at first. The moment some adversity showed up, they started making dubious, erratic decisions instead of maintaining their first period compete level and trusting the process. The third period puck management was atrocious. Unforgivable. #9 was in double digits for turnovers when I stopped counting. In the end, it was a predictable outcome given the streak of underwhelming performances we’ve seen for the past 7 weeks.

  3. a disappointing end obviously to an encouraging return to national prominence for Terrier hockey. ( we at least were ranked in the top 10 and made the NCAAs). As i mentioned before, i thought that penalties at decisive moments could be critical. Peterson, a important player and top 6 forward, taking a stupid penalty so early in the game and losing him from the lines was a huge early turning point, as was the failure to convert on a similar committed by St Cloud which could have easily turned the game in the Terrier’s favor. I guess they just ran out of gas also due to the fact that they have not played that many games this year in comparison to many other clubs. However i think the future is quite bright, with 2 good goalies ( btw maybe o’connell should have pulled Commesso for Duplessy?), only 2 big senior loses , and a big incoming freshman class. Lets just hope no one else defects to the pros.

  4. I thought it was a pretty poor showing. Faceoffs and powerplay were just awful. They have to figure out a way to get the puck into the offensive zone when opponent clogs up the neutral zone. Other than Farrance leaving things look pretty good for next season. Lets just chalk this up to a very strange year and hope we’re all back at Agganis in October for a much better season

  5. Another thought as I have watched BC also play poorly for a team ranked 1st in the nation by many. I saw on a graphic on the tv as I listened to Bernie that St Cloud on average was there years older than us. This has been going on for years were we lose to a much older team. Coach has tried to address this but retention of players at BU a real problem. Not having a football or even baseball may be a generall problem for recruiting as BC for many years now has better players than us.the “Flute”affect ? I think so. For a school that is so anti sports the coach has his hands full for sure. I am afraid a championship is far off if the Western teams remain so strong and OLD. That said what is U Mass doing that we are not. They seem to play the “Western” style of play. We shall see. At least BC lost .

    • Caesar i don’t agree with you that BC recruits better players than we do. Just look at the number of players that BU has put into the NHL all time , its not even close vis a vis BC. Even in the past 20 years Terriers squads especially in 2009 and 2015 were absolutely loaded with talent, with Terriers entering the NHL almost every year. The fact that BC is more of a “jock” school than BU is certainly true but it IMO has little effect in hockey recruiting at either school. BU is still considered THE hockey school in the East , its where most of the high end recruits always wanted to go due mostly to J. Parker for so many years and more recently under Quinn who has the reputation of being a great developer of young talent. BCs hockey program changed dramatically after York arrived on the scene and i believe is the major reason for their tremendous success over the past 20 plus years. He gets great players but his genius is getting all of them to buy into the program and gets them to stay at least 3 years and most graduate while the Terriers have too many one and done players that really has been a problem since the days of tony amonte. By comparison BCs program before York was nowhere near BUs in term of success at all levels, leaguewise and nationally and both schools sports situations were the same as exists today. Keep the faith, we are coming back.

      • Vito, talking about after York not before. Look at the championships after York in Beanpot and NCAA. They consistently have better players tha we do and recruits are brought to football games . York has done this even going through ads coaches leaving. Quinn was the exception but, like the players. Left for pros. York did not leave. That is why BC has out plates us for most of the head w/o Parker.

        • well yes Caesar all i can say is look at the # of players both programs have sent to the NHL, its pretty even. BC has won 4 Nat’l titles and BU 1 and a lot more beanpots since York. I really think this is because of coaching, keeping his players, on Yorks’ part. If taking recruits to football games helps him good for him too . But just consider if Eichel, Keller, Farabee, and Zegras stay 4 years instead of being one and dones how many trophies would the Terriers have won in just the last 5 years?

  6. Ironically I think Covid helped us. Based on how we played since the Merrimack loss at home, if we played a full schedule, I think this team would have been around 500. That 10-4-2 record is deceiving

  7. BC lost to St. Cloud for many of the same reasons the Terriers did. In 2021, high-end youth talent—with dubious commitments to remaining in college—comprising a third of your roster is not a solid strategy for winning national championships. By the time fans are filling arenas for next year’s Frozen Four, BC and BU will be 10 and 13 years out respectively from their last NCAA titles. But they seem to be refusing to evolve their success equations. Greg Carvel at UMass has learned from programs like North Dakota and Minnesota Duluth that the tendency toward leaning on players rated high in the draft with exposure from the NTDP is a shortsighted philosophy that’s not good for team building. We’re watching the results unfold: Umass is now the marquee program in Hockey East. If the Beanpot schools hope to challenge again for the title it will be because of a conscious decision to recalibrate their positioning in the global recruiting market, not stay the current miopic course.

    • Mark, while i agree that BU and BC might well be advised to change their recruiting practices a bit, the fact that neither has won an NCAA title in a decade is not indicative of an overall decline in these programs. Its difficult to win an NCAA title, especially now withthe more basketball like knock out formula and also in a tourney which historically has had about 80% of the winners western schools, for eastern clubs.. There are various reasons for this, the most significant being that they tend to have older, more experienced , and physical players and have enormous amounts of talented players in the vast states of Minn., N. Dakota, Michigan, ect. That’s difficult to compete against. However even Michigan , with the most titles (9), has not won an NCAA title in over 20 years. In recent years teams like Yale, Union, Prov have won titles. That that mean that they’ve become dominate or programs to emulate? What have they done the last 2 years, not even qualifying for the NCAAs. Also in Hockey East Lowell, Umass now and Prov. have emerged to nat’l prominence , yet only Prov. has won a nat’l title ( and if not for o’Conner’s gaffe that one would have been in the Terriers column). Yet again, both Lowell and Prov. had mediocre seasons this year not making the NCAAs , while both BU, and BC did and finished 1-2 in the final standings. Whether or not UMass can finish the deal and win the title remains to be seen. IMO the real problem with BU and evidently now also with BC is early departures and one and dones, which make it very difficult to maintain a high level of play year in and year out.

      • Most of the teams who’ve won titles in the last 10-12 years have done so with a very different success equation than the one BU currently subscribes to, indicating a trend. Whether or not you want to call this decline is entirely subjective.

        • yes certainly the recent champions have a different approach to recruiting than BU, but i think this is more out of necessity. The Lowells, Prov, Yales, Unions, ect can’t attract the high end recruits, they all want to go to BU and BC., Harv? So its an adjustment they’ve made and in some cases has worked, but is it sustainable? BUs and BCs success has been historic but things have changed in college hockey and its difficult to keep really good players for 4 years because there are NHL opportunities that maybe didn’t exist as much before. So whats the solution? Get recruits to agree to stay at least 2 yrs and tell “help us win and we’ll help you with your pro ambitions. If they don’t agree then tell them that maybe college hockey’s not for you. Recruiting needs to aim more to get the player to buy into the entire univ experience and into helping make the program successful, not just a quick fix by renting players.

  8. Mark Myword is right on point. I hope coach reads his comment.BC had older teams because they stayed in school but now the BC roster is as new a a babe each year just like us although with more 1st rounders than us.

    • Well not quite new as a babe because they got three absolute studs to stay another year – Knight, Newhook and Boldy. And that still didn’t get them to the Frozen Four.

  9. I believe this season was a huge success. The loss Saturday stung and still stings today but if you step back and see what bu had to deal with covid no home rink injuries lack of games etc this team achieved a lot. Only one team wins the championship bu made the national tournament that is successful. Other bu teams would have huge turnovers after making national tournament next year our core will be back. I like the kids we have they may be young but next year they will be a year older and they will have some experience. We were playing right with St. Cloud till bad bounces and a terrible call put us in a hole we could not get out of. I’m happy to be a bu fan right now we are heading in the right direction. Go bu 🐾

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