Written by James Garrison
The Boston University men’s hockey team (4-7-2, 3-4-2 Hockey East) took on the Northeastern University Huskies (9-4-0, 5-3-0 Hockey East) for the first time in twenty months at Agganis Arena in Boston on Friday night. The Huskies and the Terriers split a home-and-home series March 6 and 7 of 2020, each team’s last game before the beginning of the pandemic.
Prior to that meeting, the two faced each other in the finals of the 2020 Beanpot, where the Huskies took home the title in double overtime. The Terrier’s third period comeback fell short, with a last second tying goal from former Terrier Trevor Zegras.
Coming into Friday night’s matchup, the Terriers stopped their four-game slide with a promising weekend against the defending national champions UMass Amherst. The Terriers had a hard-fought battle at home Friday night, followed by a thrilling overtime victory in Amherst Saturday night.
“It was frustrating, to say the least,” Head Coach Albie O’Connell said after the game. “I liked our effort. I like the way we played. We battled hard. We generated a lot of scoring chances, and if we shot the puck we would have generated a lot more. I didn’t like the way we shot the puck tonight.”
On the other side, the Huskies came into the night riding a six game point streak in which they had only surrendered seven goals. The Huskies have gone 5-0-1 during this stretch with wins against the University of Maine, University of New Hampshire, and Harvard.
Terriers’ sophomore forward Luke Tuch made his return from injury tonight, playing his first game since October 15th against Sacred Heart, but without a huge Terrier presence in Dylan Peterson. Tuch had three shots in the Friday match, and will be back in for Saturday’s game.
“I thought Luke [Tuch] was solid… He only practiced for a week with us… He competed hard. It’s nice to get him back,” O’Connell noted of his forward.
The Terriers continued last weekend’s strong play with a great opening twenty minutes. BU got the first seven shots and held Northeastern shotless until 13:18 of the first, ultimately outshooting the Huskies 14-3 in the first period.
In the second period, it was more of the same for the Terriers: dominant play matched by more than stellar goaltending, outshooting the Huskies 12-4. BU was not lacking when it came to scoring chances.
The match was a battle of goaltenders with sophomores maintaining their posts on both ends of the ice. Sophomores Drew Commesso of BU and Devon Levi of NU kept both of their teams in the game, making 15 and 38 saves, respectively.
Relying on their defensive backstop in Levi, Northeastern head coach Jerry Keefe also chose to put forward Johnny DeRoche back in the lineup for the for his first game since mid-October. DeRoche is currently facing sexual assault allegations that were made public on Instagram following his time at the University of Vermont.
“No comment on that,” Keefe said regarding his decision to approve DeRoche in rejoining the team. “That’s not something I can talk about.”
Although Northeastern was able to come up with a couple of solid scoring chances in the third, it was largely still the Terriers controlling play.
The Terriers failed to capitalize on breakaways from forwards Ty Amonte and Robert Mastrosimone, and a late two-on-one was broken up to keep the game scoreless. Northeastern’s strong penalty kill was also on display in the second, with the Huskies killing off both of BU’s power-plays.
“We had some glorious opportunities to go up. One, maybe two goals you know, so I think it’s just a shooting mentality with some rushes. In the second period we’re making dumb passes instead of just putting it on on net and getting bodies to that as an area that we could probably do,” O’Connell said.
Despite dominance throughout the game, this Friday night matchup would reflect that of last weekend with a five-minute overtime to close the game. The Terriers continued to play aggressively in the third, tallying three shots in just over a minute, but unfortunately Northeastern’s Levi was absolutely locked in throughout 65 minutes of play.
Their one goal in overtime proved to be all that the Huskies needed, as junior forward Aidan McDonough picked up a pass in the 3-on-3 and launched the puck past Commesso. The sudden-death goal was all that Northeastern needed to secure the victory at Agganis.
The Terriers will be right back at it Saturday night against the very same Northeastern University Huskies when the puck drops at 7:00 p.m. at Matthews Arena. Coverage can be found both on Twitter @BOShockeyblog and on Instagram @Boston.Hockey.Blog