BU Men’s Hockey—the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly 2021-22

Assistant Captain Alex Vlasic against the University of New Hampshire in 2019.
Photo by Caroline Fernandez

One of the best parts about going back to school every fall is knowing that the Boston University Men’s Hockey season is slowly but surely making its return to the ice for another exciting season. But ahead of that excitement is speculation about the future of this team after a promising half-season and an opportunistic entry into the 100th season of the program. With that, here are my thoughts on the good, the bad, and the ugly heading into year 100. All thoughts are my own.

The Good:

Consistency

One area that the Terriers have been lacking in through the last decade has been consistency. After the Eichel year, BU has become more of a one-year development camp and less of an academic institution offering four years of growth and support athletically along the way. Despite this, the Terriers seem to be improving their retention rate heading into their 100th season with the return of Graduate Transfer Max Kaufman and senior captain Logan Cockerill. I guess if there was one good thing to come from COVID, the extra year of eligibility will be huge in maintaining leadership on the ice and in the locker room.

Kaufman was a play-maker on the ice, and clearly carried his weight behind the scenes, donning an “A” quickly into his first year in scarlet and white, and retaining it for his second year. While he may have struggled in goal-scoring with just one, his seven assists in 16 games still proved valuable and I like to think the few number of games and little time to gel with his teammates in a competitive setting may have played into that.

Cockerill, who will keep the “C,” has seen it all in his four years at BU, and at this point all we can do is hope he can play a complete season as captain. Cockerill is a hungry guy, talking about his team’s lack of Beanpot, among other trophies, and likely continues to feel that drive heading into year five as one of the top short-handed goal scorers in the league.

Amonte Dynasty

Another area Terrier fans can look forward to will be the addition of another Amonte. Tony Amonte began the legacy back in the early 90s during which he tallied 126 points in his two years. Redshirted his junior year, Ty Amonte came back in 2020 ready to make his mark in his final year. In what was ultimately short-lived, a recurring knee injury kept him from a complete senior year, but COVID will let him stick around for one more, this time sharing the ice with his younger brother, Tristan. Tristan will be joining the Terriers after two years in the BCHL with the Penticton Vees where he put up 48 points in 74 games. With a family line as powerful, memorable, and influential as the Amontes, maybe we’ll see some sibling magic as the two join forces.

NHL Coaches make their return

There is no denying the BU-to-NHL pipeline, and even more so, the BU-to-Bruins pipeline, but sometimes that pipeline circles back to BU. Announced in July, Jay Pandolfo and Doug Friedman will return to their home base at Agganis Arena after almost 10 years in the world of professional Hockey. Pandolfo and Friedman both captained their Terrier squads in the 90s, putting up 169 and 104 points, respectively.

Obviously they’re experienced, but what I think might be even more important is their knowledge of NHL potential and development. Everyone in a BU jersey wants to go pro, but maybe hearing from the guys who worked in the professional world of hockey will encourage four years of development at BU before heading onwards. Not only that, but the college game has changed and will continue to change to be more like that of the NHL. Maybe having some more experience behind the bench will give Coach O’Connell the advice and confidence he needs to push this program and this team beyond where they are now.

Draftees and their potential

With the loss of Roman Schmidt came the addition of Ty Gallagher. Gallagher, the 6 foot Clarkston, Michigan native out of the US National Team Development Program, will add the depth this roster needs with more enforcement from the blueline. While at the NTDP, Gallagher set the record for most goals scored by a defenseman with 24.

Alongside Gallagher from the NTDP is Tyler Boucher, who went 10th overall to the Ottawa Senators. Boucher, often compared to Tom Wilson, seems to put up big points in big games. Despite pestering ACL surgeries and a global pandemic, his nine goals in 14 games show the offensive talent he can add to this Terrier squad– hopefully we’ll see some Brady Tkachuk in both Gallagher and Boucher this fall.

World Junior Summer Showcase

In August, Tyler Boucher, Dylan Peterson, Luke Tuch, and Drew Commesso all went out to Finland to play in the World Junior Summer Showcase with team USA. While it might not be the most traditional off-season workout, any experiences these guys can get in a competitive setting is productive for the team. Of the four, Tuch led with four points in five games, Peterson had one assist in five games, and Boucher had two points in his four games. In net, Commesso started in five games, and ended the showcase with a 2.39 goals against average and a .913 save percentage.

The Bad:

Senior Class, or lack thereof

The class of 2023 added 13 freshmen to the roster in one season. And in that one season, many of those 13 guys got more ice time than anyone in the class of 2022. With that being said, the entire senior class has packed up and moved on around the country. Jake Wise will play at Ohio State, Matthew Quercia is heading to Michigan Tech, and Jack DeBoer will head to Niagara University. While the junior class may be experienced, they still haven’t played a full season in a BU jersey, and off the ice, losing that many players in a season must say something about the coaching staff as well.

Blueliners

Another sore point on the Terrier blueline is the loss of David Farrance. A Hobey baker finalist two years in a row, there is no question of the impact Farrance made on the ice. Losing a big player like that leaves some major gaps in the defense, but the junior class should feel comfortable stepping up to take that place. Junior Alex Vlasic made a huge step in his second year, putting up eight points and earning the “A” for his third year at BU. With Vlasic came Case McCarthy and Domenick Fensore, who still have plenty of room for improvement, but will hopefully make their impact by playing in a full season.

National threat

Boston College was clearly a powerhouse for most of the 2020-21 season with big names on every line of the roster and corner of the ice. While BC will always be our number one rival, their competitive streak may have come to an end with several players leaving for the pros, as Matt Boldy, Alex Newhook, and Spencer Knight all traded in their Eagle jerseys for professional ones.

Our Beanpot rivals will always be our Beanpot rivals, but it looks like the Terriers may feel the heat from a different Massachusetts school with reigning champions from UMass Amherst looking to repeat their national sweep and get back-to-back championships. The good news is UMass’ victory helps to establish Hockey East as a competitive league, but that comes with all of the pressure the Minutemen can add.

The Ugly:

While maybe not ugly, there are a few questions to ask heading into the 100th year of Terrier Hockey.

Goalie Battle?

BU used to struggle with protecting the crease, but between Sophomores Vinny Duplessis and Drew Commesso and Junior Ashton Abel, Coach O’Connell has three very solid options to take over the net. Commesso left his mark as the starter with a .915 save percentage and a 2.99 goals against average, followed by Duplessis with a .939 sv% and a 1.66 GAA in five games. Abel split his freshman year with then graduate transfer Sam Tucker, and seemed to struggle in his 2021 debut, but maybe the time the off-season will do him justice.

Fans at Agganis?

Agganis Arena has announced the return of fans and the student section this fall with masks being worn at all times. After nearly two years of fan-less hockey, it will be interesting to see how the players, especially some of the younger ones, react to a sea of scarlet and white and whether it amps up the pressure and drive, or ultimately serves as a distraction.

How will the team do in season 100?

This program is among the best in the country and has achieved enormous success. In 100 seasons, there have been National Champions, Hobey Baker award winners, Olympians, Beanpot trophies, and Stanley cups. The 2021-22 season is loaded with great opponents, a trip to Madison Square Garden for Red Hot Hockey, and will wrap-up with the Frozen Four at TD Garden in Boston.

There are high expectations when it comes to maintaining the legacy of BU Hockey, and we’ll just have to wait and see how season 100 plays out.

9 thoughts on “BU Men’s Hockey—the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly 2021-22”

  1. I’m looking forward to the upcoming Terriers hockey season and excited that the team will be back at Agannis, where they belong, and with fans and students back in the seats. I’m also convinced that this season has the potential to be a banner one with trophies across the board a possibility. The roster appears to be the strongest its been in several years as you point out Caroline also with the retention of players like Amonte, Cockerill, Kaufman, and a great returning group of underclassmen. The incoming frosh class also appears quite talented and will give the team a great amount of depth which we already saw last season. The goaltending also seems solid and deep with 2 good goalies to backstop the team. Remember the last time the terriers won the title in ’09 they has 2 excellent goalies in Millan and Rolleheiser.
    They rest of the field in Hockey East Is always a big challenge especially now with a national champion, UMASS, among the ranks. However as you also point out B.C. has been significantly weakened with the loss of their star goalie and others to the pro ranks and UMass certainly is beatable despite the terrific run they had at the end of last season to claim their 1st national title. The Terriers did beat them twice in the early going last year. We did lose our outstanding all american Farrance but at least he gave us 4 years and hopefully sets an example for others to stay a complete college career. Its also terrific that the coaching staff added Pandolfo and friedman, 2 terriers who had excellent careers at B.U and will add more coaching experience to greatly assist Albie. The Terriers have been ranked 10th nationally by Buccigross but i think their status is probably even higher up. With the frozen Four at TD Garden next year the karma seems good for another Terrier appearance there. Remember the last time the tourney was held here in 2015 we arrived there at the end. The Terriers hockey program is as you illustrate second to no one historically.

  2. Vito I agree this team has potential bc will be tough I certainly respect that team and their legendary coach he picked up some older proven players bu has great leadership from coaching staff to captains to returning players and a hungry group of freshman. We don’t have any super stars but we have a deep line up I’m sad to see some players leave but I understand how college hockey is especially these days . I can’t wait to see bu live in person I will consider that a blessing. It’s nice to see positive comments on the response of this blog thank you Vito I’m usually the one protecting the bu name lots of haters posing as bu fans on here. As always a great job by Caroline and all the blog writers. Go bu 🐾

  3. I don’t know if they’re so much haters Colin, its just that everyone has a different point of view about the program especially considering all the changes that have occurred over the past 10 years or so. Son of Caesar believes that York has recruited better over the years than the Terriers and points to this as the margin of their greater success over many years. I don’t agree and believe that retaining players for 3 or four years and getting players to buy into the entire univ. experience is most important. BU has always recruited terrific players. I think its ok to be critical if its constructive and can lead to better ideas for a more winning program. I know i’ve been critical as well of the program but i do think optimism is warranted for this year since the team did play well and beat some very good teams last year albeit during an abbreviated season.

  4. I have the utmost confidence in us this coming season BUT how the hell is anyone going to compete with Michigan? How the bleep did they get three guys in the top ten of the recent NHL draft AND get all of them to return for their sophomore season?

  5. Vito,
    As to York recruiting better and BC in general I can remember when it was the other way around. One only has to look at the Championships BC has compared to us in the last ten plus years. For some reason when Bavis was the recruiter under Parker everything went South. Got somewhat good again and we went to the Championship game a few years ago but not good again with the lack of continuity of coaching staffs. Now maybe we have some stability. It would easy to be like Colin and say everything is G-R-E-A-T !!, but it has not been. Supporting a team does not mean one does not see reality.

    • Anytime Poulin plays for Team Canada, I am a Team Canada fan, even if she beats Team USA. She is a phenomenal young woman and my favorite Lady Terrier of all time.

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