By James Garrison
The Boston University men’s hockey team (3-3-0, 2-2-0 Hockey East) returned home to Agganis Arena this Saturday for a rematch against the Merrimack College Warriors (3-3-0, 1-2-0 Hockey East) for the second of a home-and-home series this weekend. After a disappointing loss on Friday night to the Warriors, the Terriers were looking to salvage a series split for the third week in a row.
The Terriers were pleased to welcome back senior assistant captain Ty Amonte to the lineup for his first game of the season tonight. Amonte scored the opening goal for the Terriers, his first of the season, providing a much-needed spark on and off the ice.
“Getting him injected back in the lineup was huge for the team. He had a big, you know, kind of wild, I wouldn’t wanna say speech, but amped up lineup-yell before the game, and the guys kind of fed off of his energy,” head coach Albie O’Connell commented in his post-game press conference.
As the team leader in terms of points, junior defenseman Domenick Fensore, was named Hockey East Defender of the Week October 18, and finished the game with three shots on net and a +2 plus/minus Saturday night.
After the Terrier’s 3-2 loss Friday night, O’Connell was “frustrated with our lack of, you know, attack. Our lack of want to score and drive to score.” The Terriers were night and day in that department right from puck drop, with their offensive mentality quite apparent.
“We came out with a kind of attack-mentality of just playing the right way, getting the puck in behind their D, getting shots on net, and that’s how we kind of grew that lead,” O’Connell commented.
While eight shots in the first period may not have seemed to be an overwhelming output by the Terriers, they capitalized on their opportunities and scored four goals on those eight shots in the first period alone. Sophomore forward Dylan Peterson put home two of the Terrier’s four first-period goals, with Robert Mastrosimone and Ty Amonte putting home one tally each.
It was a full 200-foot effort for the Terriers in the first, bringing an intensity that had been absent throughout much of the season so far and playing their most complete period yet. The Terriers headed to the locker room up 4-1 after a highly energetic period.
Going into the game, an area of the Terriers game that wasn’t under scrutiny was their penalty kill – a perfect nineteen for nineteen through five game. Of the Warriors’ six goals though, three of them came on the power play. Merrimack finished the game three for seven on the power play Saturday night, accounting for half of their goals.
Despite chippy play on both sides, the Terriers would only draw one penalty after the first period, while Merrimack was granted five. As the game progressed and the offense continued to pile on for both sides, so did the physicality and the extra-curricular activities after the whistle.
“Penalties, we’re gonna have to be a little more disciplined, for sure,” O’Connell said. “We just gotta be a little smarter away from the puck.” The overall physicality and chippiness of the game Friday night definitely carried over into Saturday, especially in the third period.
Despite giving up two goals in the second, BU was able to stay even with the Warriors by putting up two of their own. Junior forward Wilmer Skoog scored his team-leading fourth goal of the season and third goal in two games at the 8:15 mark, followed by Peterson securing a hat-trick with just ten seconds left in the period to put the Terriers up 6-3.
Coach O’Connell praised Peterson, saying that he “had a huge bounce-back game, because he was one of those guys who had many opportunities to shoot.” Peterson scored his first three goals of the season Saturday night, quickly tying a career-high for goals in college hockey.
“We’ve had some split weekends for sure, and this weekend was huge for us. Coming off of this big win, I think we’re going to move forward and we’re gonna roll through the next couple of weekends and we can go on a little bit of a streak here. So, I’m excited to see what happens,” Peterson said post-game after being asked about the momentum a win like this could provide.
The third period did not slow down in terms of goal scoring, with Merrimack outscoring BU 3-2 in the third. Freshman forward Brian Carrabes and sophomore forward Nick Zabaneh both scored their first-ever goals in college hockey and their first goals in scarlet and white.
Merrimack defenseman Zach Vinnell scored twice in the third period- at 9:35 and 18:53- to complete the hat-trick for the junior. Vinnell has already tied his season-high for goals at three and already has four points in six games to start the year off.
Despite the final being a difference of only two goals, the Terriers controlled the play in a game that seemed less close than the final score showed. Terrier goaltender Drew Commesso was not as sharp as he had been in previous games like Friday night in Merrimack, likely due to his back-to-back starts, but he secured the win nonetheless.
It was a night-and-day difference for the Terriers in terms of energy and finding that ‘other gear’ that they had struggled to find in the first five games of the season. A sense of urgency was palpable from the puck drop and the Terriers proved in the first period that they can dominate opponents like Merrimack and look like the top-ten ranked team that they should be.
The Terriers will return to action next Friday night at Agganis Arena in Boston, Massachusetts to take on the UMass Lowell Riverhawks for the first of a home-and-home series, with coverage on Twitter @BOSHockeyBlog and on Instagram @Boston.Hockey.Blog.