Written by James Garrison
The Boston University men’s hockey team (1-0) returned to action last night for an exhibition game against the Holy Cross Crusaders (0-1) at Walter Brown Arena. The Terriers found themselves in a hard-hitting, low scoring affair at the end of the first period but found their game late in the second, scoring three of their four second period goals within 3:02 of each other.
The contest had no shortage of action for Terrier fans who are seeing their team live for the first time since early 2020. The teams combined for a total of 48 penalty minutes– 26 and 22 for Holy Cross and BU, respectively. Outshooting Holy Cross 39-20, the Terriers cruised to a 5-1 victory over the Crusaders after three bruising periods of exhibition hockey.
Sophomore goalie Drew Commesso started in net for the Terriers. Despite not facing extreme pressure, Commesso was still very solid– stopping 19 of 20 shots– in 60 minutes of play. Coming off of a 6-3-1 record last year with a 2.99 goals-against-average and a .915 save percentage, Commesso is looking to build off of a solid freshman year.
Terriers junior forward Ethan Phillips took the ice for game action after missing almost the entire 2020-21 campaign. Phillips registered one assist, had one shot, and finished with a plus-minus of +1. Head coach Albie O’Connell was pleased with the return of Phillips.
“I thought Ethan was great. You know, [he] was darting around out there. He used his speed – not a lot of space in Walter Brown,” O’Connell said Saturday. “[They] played a pretty good, hard-checking physical style so I thought [he] handled himself really well”.
Phillips and the rest of the Terrier’s squad will build off of a successful evening as they prepare for their regular season opener next week against the University of Connecticut.
BU started with high intensity and their physicality was met equally by the Crusaders. The first period’s physicality and chippy nature resulted in a low-shooting affair, ending with the Terriers outshooting Holy Cross 9-7.
BU’s sophomore forward Luke Tuch led the way physically for the Terriers with a couple of big hits and a matching roughing penalty with Holy Cross senior forward Ryan Leibold.
The intensity was felt right from puck drop with Crusaders forward Jack MacNab going to the box 1:52 into the game for slashing. BU’s ensuing power-play came up empty after a number of good chances. Holy Cross’ junior goalie Matt Radomsky held the fort for the Crusaders throughout the power-play, making a side-of-the-net desperation save on Terriers’ junior forward Matt Brown.
Despite the Crusaders’ only fist-period power-play coming up short, they capitalized on their first good scoring chance of the period. The ice was finally broken at 11:37 of the first period when Holy Cross sophomore forward Jack Ricketts snuck in behind the BU defense and put it home on his backhand to put the Crusaders up 1-0.
Shortly thereafter, though, BU responded. Twenty-six seconds after going up 1-0, Holy Cross would be shorthanded as senior forward Anthony Vincent went away for interference. Only four seconds into the power-play Terrier freshman forward Tyler Boucher banked it in from a bad angle off the back shoulder of Crusaders netminder. Tuch and Brown provided the assists.
The physical play that was constantly felt in the first period was not as consistent during the second as the game opened up and more scoring chances occurred. Constant hits along the boards were swapped for more, less frequent, larger open ice hits from the likes of Terriers Tuch and junior defenseman Case McCarthy.
“I thought our competitive spirit was really good,” O’Connell remarked in his post-game press conference. “We played a physical style of game. There was a lot of after-the-whistle stuff which we’re not crazy about,” O’Connell later added in regards to the physical and intense nature of the game.
BU finally found a consistent offensive game from the midpoint of the second to the end of the period, outshooting Holy Cross 18-6 in the second period and scoring 4 times while holding the Crusaders off the scoresheet.
The Terriers second period goals came from junior forwards Robert Mastrosimone and Sam Stevens, along with tallies from McCarthy and freshman defenseman Ty Gallagher. Twenty-eight penalty minutes were handed out in the second period, sixteen for the Crusaders and twelve for the Terriers.
The Terriers closed out the night with a very solid third period, not giving Holy Cross many five-on-five opportunities, holding them to only three even-strength shots on net. The Terriers were forced to kill off four penalties in the third– their penalty kill finishing 7/7 on the night.
O’Connell emphasized the strength of BU’s penalty kill throughout the night. “Our penalty kill, I thought, was really good”. The Terriers only yielded six shots when they were shorthanded, with Stevens scoring an unassisted shorthanded goal at 14:53 of the second period.
BU gritted their way through a physical and chippy first period where Holy Cross played them tightly, but were able to break out for four goals in the second period. Solid goaltending and a strong penalty kill were the keys to the Terriers cruising to a 5-1 victory against the Crusaders.
The Terriers will face the University of Connecticut for a home-and-home series to open their regular season on October 8 and 9. The puck will drop at 7:05 pm on Friday in Hartford, and at 7:00 pm on Saturday at Agganis Arena.