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.