Terrier frustrations continue with loss at Merrimack

By James Garrison

The Boston University men’s hockey team (2-3-0, 1-2-0 Hockey East) traveled north this Friday to face off against Merrimack College (3-2-0, 1-1 Hockey East) for the first of a home-and-home series this weekend in their only matchup of this season. Coming off of a disappointing two-game split against Sacred Heart University last weekend, the Terriers were looking to rebound and find some consistency for the first time this season. 

Going into the game, BU and Merrimack had equal records in both conference play and all NCAA play, but with very different narratives, as the Terriers suffered home losses to both the University of Connecticut and Sacred Heart University. 

Sophomore goaltender Drew Commesso got the start in net for the Terriers – his fifth of the season. Entering the game this season, Commesso posted a .922 Save Percentage and a 2.60 Goals-Against-Average. Commesso was very solid, stopping 28 of 31 shots faced against the Warriors and keeping the Terriers in the game. 

Forwards Luke Tuch and Jay O’Brien were both out due to injuries, giving junior forward Wilmer Skoog the opportunity to play higher up in the lineup. Skoog scored both goals for the Terriers tonight, tallying four shots on goal and registering a +1 in the Terriers’ 3-2 loss. 

The game began with a good pace to it, but there was very little sustained offense on either side, with BU controlling what little offense there was. It was not until around the 12:00 mark of the first period, where more fans entered the building to amplify the already energetic Merrimack student section. 

The ice was broken at 9:14 of the first period with Warrior sophomore forward Alex Jeffries catching a pass in stride, sneaking behind the Terrier defense, and putting a backhander five-hole on Commesso to put the Warriors up 1-0. Jeffries, a fourth-round pick of the New York Islanders, was set up by graduate forward Max Newton. 

Merrimack would continue to build their momentum after Jeffries’ goal, killing off a fairly weak power-play from the Terriers. The Terriers’ second power-play of the period, however, would prove to be more successful. 

Junior forward Wilmer Skoog got the Terriers on the board by tipping a point shot from junior defenseman Domenick Fensore at 16:00 of the first period. For Skoog, it was his second goal of the season, bringing his season stats to two goals, two assists, and four points. 

The Terriers would build some late momentum after the goal from Wilmer Skoog, generating more odd-man rushes and playing with more overall confidence, finishing the first period strong and outshooting Merrimack 6-5. 

Right out of the gate in the second period, BU had much more of an attacking mentality with a solid opportunity for senior defenseman Joseph Campolieto off of the rush. The game quickly evened out though, with good chances on both sides of the ice.

After a long period of the referees putting away their whistles, both BU and Merrimack would begin to fill the penalty box. In a 1:50 period of time, the teams would combine for 10 penalty minutes, mostly on extracurricular activities after the whistle.

The Terriers’ best opportunity of the game came on the penalty kill when junior forward Matt Brown’s breakaway five-hole attempt was denied by Merrimack sophomore goaltender Zachary Borgiel. Borgiel was strong throughout the game, stopping 18 of BU’s 20 shots. 

Momentum shifted in BU’s favor when Skoog picked up a pass from linemate Ethan Phillips and buried a great chance all alone in the slot to put the Terriers up 2-1 at 16:00 of the second period. 

The Terriers’ seemed to be gaining momentum after Skoog’s second of the game. Their confidence was palpable and it seemed as though they were turning a corner on what had been a frustrating start to the season. That momentum was short-lived though, with Merrimack capitalizing on a miscue by the Terriers defense, evening the game up only 2:41 after the Terriers took the lead. 

“You can’t have two defensemen run into each other, then go on a breakaway, and then chase him down and then take a penalty on it,” head coach Albie O’Connell commented in his post-game press conference. 

The game-winning goal was scored by Warrior freshman defenseman Adam Arvedson on a one-timer from the right point 6:31 into the third period. BU had little in terms of response in the third, with the exception of a no-goal call on a one-timer from Mastrosimone with the goalie pulled. 

The early-season frustrations continued tonight for the Terriers, with little to show in terms of a real drive to take control of the game. Flashes of dominance were shown after the second goal from Skoog, but a full 60-minute effort was not realized. 

“It’s a tough loss,” O’Connell put quite frankly in his post-game press conference. “We had many opportunities to shoot the puck tonight that we passed up on.” BU was outshot 31-20 by Merrimack. 

O’Connell further commented on his frustrations with the Terriers’ offense, adding that the team was “borderline inept at the offensive blueline.” Only two of BU’s 20 shots in the game came from defensemen. 

BU will be back home Saturday night for a rematch against Merrimack. The puck will drop at 7:00 pm at Agganis Arena in Boston, Massachusetts for the third home game of the season, with coverage on Twitter @BOSHockeyBlog and on Instagram @Boston.Hockey.Blog.

8 thoughts on “Terrier frustrations continue with loss at Merrimack”

  1. Heard Bernie say we were without many of our top scorers were out .only Tuck could fit that description.
    Only losers make that excuse.

    No drive in team at all.

    • I think we’re all still fighting the same battle – just in different ways.

      @Colin: It’s ok to criticize the program if the criticism is fair and can be supported. It doesn’t make someone less of a fan or a worse fan. Just a critical fan. Less rah rah and more matter of fact.

      @OtherPosters: It’s ok that Colin is always glass half full and always hopes for the best. Negativity rarely helps. And keeping spirits up can help get through rough patches.

      The issue (as with most things in our world these days) is extremism. If we all think “everything is awesome” we ignore real issues that need to be fixed. If we’re all “glass half empty” then we put more undue pressure on the things that can be fixed organically with time.

      The answer is (like most things) somewhere in the middle.

      I think people like Paul D and myself are admittedly glass half-empty and matter of fact. (I blame it on growing up a die hard Whalers fan in my formative years mixed with the heartache of the late 70’s and 80’s Red Sox. There won’t be enough therapy in my lifetime to undo that decade of sports torture 😉

      So, if we take emotion out of it (as much as we can), can we all agree on realistic expectations?

      Going into each season I expect to play an entertaining style of hockey, recognize a system that’s coached and executed, challenge for the Hockey East regular season title, get to the Beanpot finals, get to the Garden in the HE tournament, make the NCAA tournament, and hopefully win the Beanpot on average every 2 years, win the Hockey East Tournament on average every 4 years, get to the Frozen Four on average every 5 years, and win the title on average every decade (preferably more often for all those things 🙂

      For a program of our pedigree, I think those are realistic expectations. But I’m happy to hear other perspectives if I’m going overboard.

      If we meet most of those expectations, it’s a great season. If we meet few of them then it’s not good enough. We’ll rarely meet or miss ALL of them so when we’re below par, I get frustrated and vent.

      No matter what, I expect the coaches to get the sum of our parts at a minimum and honestly expect more than the sum of our parts (which, IMO, is the sign of great coaching).

      It hasn’t been good enough lately and I haven’t seen the first two “baseline” expectations (an entertaining style of hockey + recognizing a system that’s coached and executed) in a while.

      Regardless, I still show up (30 years of season tickets and running) but I desperately want BU Hockey to meet or beat my expectations and the trends aren’t currently moving in the right direction.

      There’s room for all of us on this boat. But we’ll understand each other (and each other’s reactions) if we can agree on annual expectations. Feel free to let me know if I’m off base.

      And thank you for listening to my TED Talk 😉

      No co-payment required for this session.

  2. We were out coached by Scott Borek….As a BU fan I would never have thought I would say that but that is where we are. With 5 power plays they were able to hold us to 20 shots

    Colin where is the best coaching staff in the Country

    • Ozzie your eagles lost as well. Now that we know they are struggling will you be picking another hockey East team to support because for me I root for my terriers in good times and bad and I’m no where near ready to give up on this team. I don’t think they played that bad honestly just some mistakes we are missing so many of our scorers it will come and all you bu haters will try to jump back on the bu train just like what happened in 2018

  3. Tanking for Shane Wright?

    Phil Bengston Part 2?

    Looking for some optimism but it’s tough to find.

    Hope they show some life (and a few more shots) tonight.

  4. I have been challenged for my past frustration induced criticisms and rants, and I freely admit that I am a poor sport, and a sore loser, who projects his frustrations onto paid staff. That said, I agree with AOC that the effort was there last night; but that we have a gun pointed at our foot at all times, with passes in lieu of shots, and stupid penalties. The disparity in shots was largely attributable to these factors. My frustration is that this is not new, and that in spite of the player’s own between period locker room dialogue acknowledging same (as revealed in the post-game interview), not much changed as the game progressed. You can never score a goal on a shot that was not taken, and rebounds are more crucial to an offensive onslaught than an occasional perfect pass. PSD

  5. I think we’re all still fighting the same battle – just in different ways.

    @Colin: It’s ok to criticize the program if the criticism is fair and can be supported. It doesn’t make someone less of a fan or a worse fan. Just a critical fan. Less rah rah and more matter of fact.

    @OtherPosters: It’s ok that Colin is always glass half full and always hopes for the best. Negativity rarely helps. And keeping spirits up can help get through rough patches.

    The issue (as with most things in our world these days) is extremism. If we all think “everything is awesome” we ignore real issues that need to be fixed. If we’re all “glass half empty” then we put more undue pressure on the things that can be fixed organically with time.

    The answer is (like most things) somewhere in the middle.

    I think people like Paul D and myself are admittedly glass half-empty and matter of fact. (I blame it on growing up a die hard Whalers fan in my formative years mixed with the heartache of the late 70’s and 80’s Red Sox. There won’t be enough therapy in my lifetime to undo that decade of sports torture 😉

    So, if we take emotion out of it (as much as we can), can we all agree on realistic expectations?

    Going into each season I expect to play an entertaining style of hockey, recognize a system that’s coached and executed, challenge for the Hockey East regular season title, get to the Beanpot finals, get to the Garden in the HE tournament, make the NCAA tournament, and hopefully win the Beanpot on average every 2 years, win the Hockey East Tournament on average every 4 years, get to the Frozen Four on average every 5 years, and win the title on average every decade (preferably more often for all those things 🙂

    For a program of our pedigree, I think those are realistic expectations. But I’m happy to hear other perspectives if I’m going overboard.

    If we meet most of those expectations, it’s a great season. If we meet few of them then it’s not good enough. We’ll rarely meet or miss ALL of them so when we’re below par, I get frustrated and vent.

    No matter what, I expect the coaches to get the sum of our parts at a minimum and honestly expect more than the sum of our parts (which, IMO, is the sign of great coaching).

    It hasn’t been good enough lately and I haven’t seen the first two “baseline” expectations (an entertaining style of hockey + recognizing a system that’s coached and executed) in a while.

    Regardless, I still show up (30 years of season tickets and running) but I desperately want BU Hockey to meet or beat my expectations and the trends aren’t currently moving in the right direction.

    There’s room for all of us on this boat. But we’ll understand each other (and each other’s reactions) if we can agree on annual expectations. Feel free to let me know if I’m off base.

    And thank you for listening to my TED Talk 😉

    No co-payment required for this session.

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