Terriers drop first game in series to River Hawks

By James Garrison

The Boston University men’s hockey team (3-4, 2-3 Hockey East) faced off against the UMass Lowell Riverhawks (3-1-1, 1-0 Hockey East) at Agganis Arena Friday night in the first of a home-and-home series and a rematch of last season’s Hockey East quarterfinals, where the Riverhawks eliminated the Terriers 2-1. After a strong offensive performance last Saturday against Merrimack College, the Terriers looked to continue their momentum.

Prior to puck drop, the late BU alum Travis Roy was honored and remembered for his incredible story and contribution to the world through the Travis Roy Foundation. The Terriers warmed up with #24 Travis Roy jerseys, video tributes were played before the game, and throughout the night videos of Roy speaking and interviews from the likes of legendary BU coach Jack Parker and current Head Coach Albie O’Connell, to name a few, were played. 

“It was a great event for Trav. It was a great event for his family. I thought BU did a great job of honoring him and I wish we played better on a night like tonight,” Coach O’Connell commented in his post-game press conference. Both O’Connell and Roy entered BU as freshmen in the 1995-96 season. 

Graduate student Max Kauffman returned to the lineup last Saturday night after having to leave the game last Friday against Merrimack, and missing the Saturday night matchup last weekend against the Warriors. Kauffman registered two shots on net during the game against the River Hawks as his line, with junior Sam Stevens and freshman Brian Carrabes, provided a good amount of the energy for the Terriers. 

The game started with both sides trading quality scoring chances in a very fast-paced start. Unfortunately however, the Terrier offense flourished at the expense of the defense by surrendering multiple odd-man rushes to the Riverhawks. 

The scoring broke open when River Hawks junior forward Andre Lee broke away from the Terriers defense, went in on a breakaway, and put it by sophomore goaltender Drew Commesso to put the Riverhawks up 1-0 at 7:49 of the first period. Commesso made his seventh start of the season Saturday night, stopping nineteen of twenty-two shots faced. 

The first period was reminiscent of last Saturday’s matchup against Merrimack College. High-octane offense on both sides due in part to the overall pace, but also due to the defensive lapses on both sides, especially for the Terriers. 

The River Hawks were able to better contain the Terriers in the second period despite allowing some solid scoring chances. Senior goaltender Owen Savory made his best stop of the night late in the second on a third-chance opportunity from Dylan Peterson right in front of the net. 

Andre Lee scored his second of the game at 10:41 of the second and secured his third point of the night by assisting senior forward Reid Stefanson at 17:51 of the second. Lee, a draft pick of the Los Angeles Kings, was named the first star of the game and brought his point total up to five on the season. 

After playing a good first period, reminiscent of last Saturday against Merrimack with less of a finishing touch, the Terrier’s momentum and energy seemed to slip away early in the second period. Defensive breakdowns were critical to both of Lee’s goals in the first and second periods. 

The Riverhawks continued their stellar workman-like style on the road by holding the Terriers to few quality scoring chances in the third period. Savory stopped all twenty-nine shots he faced, recording his first shutout of the 2021-22 campaign and his first shutout as a member of the River Hawks. Savory transferred from R.P.I. for the 2020-21 season. 

The line of Jamie Armstrong, Nick Zabaneh, and Dylan Peterson, although held off of the score-sheet, continued their strong play Friday night. Coach O’Connell praised the line after the game. “Zabaneh’s line – Peterson, Armstrong – they played like a line. They played like team hockey and they were really effective. They were probably our best line.”

Despite many quality scoring chances, the Terriers were unable to finish those great chances. “You’re talking about critical moments in games where they either got a save or we just didn’t capitalize or we didn’t finish,” O’Connell commented in his post-game press conference. 

Even though they were shut-out, the Terriers produced a good amount of quality scoring chances. The River Hawks received some great goaltending in moments they needed it and played an overall, very solid road game. 

The Terriers will be back in action on Saturday night for a rematch against the River Hawks at Tsongas Center in Lowell, Massachusetts for the second of a home-and-home series. The Terriers will not return to Agganis Arena until November 12th, when they take on the defending Hockey East and NCAA champions the University of Massachusetts Minutemen with coverage on Twitter @BOSHockeyBlog and on Instagram @Boston.Hockey.Blog.