The Boston University men’s hockey team (4-8-2, 3-5-2 Hockey East) headed down the street to Matthews Arena to face the Northeastern University Huskies (9-4-1, 5-3-1 HE), searching for redemption after an unrewarded effort in Friday night’s 0-1 overtime loss. In the final matchup of the two-game series the Terriers put together a cohesive and valiant performance, but fell short in the shootout. The game will be recorded as a 2-2 tie.
“We played well enough to win, we played well enough to tie,” Head Coach Albie O’Connell said in the post game press conference. “So, happy with our club––the way we played all weekend. If we continue to put periods together and games together we’re going to be on the right side of it.”
Sophomore forward Dylan Peterson reentered the lineup after missing yesterday’s competition, an obvious boost for BU as he’s been one of their most consistent players––and it showed. Within 30 seconds of the opening frame, the Terriers had two shots on goal, putting the pressure on sophomore goaltender Devon Levi early. The group came out with tenacity and immediately set the tone for the night in their first couple shifts.
“It was nice to see Petey back in the lineup. Obviously was a factor on the scoresheet and on the ice,” O’Connell said.
Both teams showed an edge, making physicality a key part of the game plan. Sophomore forward Luke Tuch laid a heavy hit in the defensive zone, while freshman forward Matt Choupani countered for the Huskies, forcing junior forward Robert Mastrosimone to get a little too familiar with the boards.
BU took the first penalty of the evening with freshman defenseman Ty Gallagher collecting two minutes for interference. The penalty kill looked great for the away-team––the Terriers were jumping on loose pucks, dumping them out, and giving NU little space to get a cycle going.
The Huskies got their turn in the sin bin at 11:29 after senior forward Jakov Novak got called for high-sticking. Tuch had a promising slapshot on the man-advantage, but BU ultimately couldn’t produce. Instead, NU got on the board seconds after the penalty expired.
Junior forward Aidan McDonough worked his way out of a web of red jerseys in front of Commesso’s crease, whipped around to the left side, and snapped the puck five-hole on the sophomore netminder. Garnering the first lead of the game, the Huskies went up 1-0.
A pair of penalties were assessed at 14:16. Junior forward Jamie Armstrong went off for hooking while senior defenseman Julian Kislin went off for embellishment. The 4-on-4 play found the equalizer for BU when junior forward Jay O’Brien notched his second of the season.
After over 60 minutes of scoreless hockey for the scarlet and white, O’Brien’s goal broke the drought and evened the competition at one a piece. Junior defenseman Domenick Fensore released the initial shot blocker side, and OB was there to dump the rebound into an empty net with just over five minutes to go in the first.
It was a spirited opening 20 minutes with the energy of a cross-town Hockey East rivalry buzzing off the walls of Matthews Arena. Both groups ended the period with 13 SOG and a lot of positives to build on after an excellent showing of what college hockey is all about.
The Huskies came out in the second ready to hit. They gained a slight upper hand in momentum early on through pushing BU off pucks and to the ice. But the Terrier’s resiliency came through as they soon gave it right back, redeeming themselves after some shaky plays.
BU’s penalty kill came up big once again at 8:16 when sophomore defenseman Cade Webber sat for high sticking. The Huskies snuck in a couple more chances than their first man-advantage but couldn’t put together anything substantial with the Terriers in their faces.
With four minutes remaining, BU garnered their first lead of the weekend from Peterson on the power play. With his fifth of the year, he’s now tied for most goals on the team and collected this tally in a nifty way. Spinning around from behind the net, Peterson threw the puck in front of the crease, deflecting in off an NU player. It’s true, good things happen when you just put it on net.
Tuch and junior defenseman Jayden Struble got matching minors with 35 seconds left on the clock. With tensions rising, the two tackled each other to the ice and were dealt roughing penalties to end the middle frame.
The third period started with some 4-on-4 hockey which soon expired. Junior forward Wilmer Skoog’s hooking call at 2:47 gave the Huskies a prime opportunity to tie up the competition early and they did just that while on the power play.
McDonough netted his second of the game––after also scoring last night’s OT winner––to even the score at 2-2. BU couldn’t settle a rebound that popped out right in front of Commesso, giving the junior forward time to scoop the puck away and wrist it from just a couple feet out.
The physicality heightened as the game wore on with both groups throwing shoulders, the occasional elbow, and sturdy hits. Tuch and Peterson had really stand up performances, finishing checks and adding a gritty fringe to their squad’s play.
The Terriers had an opportunity to regain the lead with 4:44 to go in the closing frame when freshman forward Jack Hughes headed to the box for slashing. BU mustered a late offensive rush with an onslaught of shots on Levi, but none found the back of the net. For the second night in a row, the teams needed over time.
BU has become familiar with 3-on-3 hockey with their last four competitions resulting in extra time. Fensore and sophomore forward Nick Zabaneh had outstanding overtimes, both skating with real heart and using their speed to stay a step ahead of the Husky game plan.
Overall, though, the five minutes of free hockey was a bit of a drop off from how the Terriers played during regulation. There were some lapses in communication––junior defenseman Alex Vlasic audibly yelled down the bench, reminding his team to stick to man-on-man coverage––and sloppy passes. Nonetheless, you could see the effort was there and I would argue BU was the harder working team the entire night.
Diverging from Friday’s narrative, overtime wasn’t enough and it was time for a shootout. Accordingly, in the record book, the game will technically go down as a tie. The eight-round back-and-forth was truly a goaltender showcase with both Commesso and Levi showing why they sit atop the best netminders in Hockey East.
O’Brien was the only Terrier to score in the shootout. For the Huskies, Hughes ended up being the hometown hero––slowly dragging the puck and skating with a swerve, the Westwood, Mass native tucked it past Commesso to earn the extra point for NU. It was unclear for a moment if it was a good goal, but the puck had just enough will to trickle past the goal line and officially end the game.
It’s a sour ending to a weekend that showcased some of BU’s best hockey this year. The Terriers have compiled two straight weekends of really impressive hockey––it seems the group is finally hitting their stride and playing to their potential. Two ties, one loss, and one win in the past four games doesn’t rightfully represent the tremendous turnaround this team has had. There are overwhelmingly more positives than negatives to take from their recent play.
“They have nothing to hang their head about,” O’Connell said. “I think they competed well, you know we made a good step this weekend and just got to keep getting better.”
Heading into Thanksgiving break, BU has a night under the brightest lights on the biggest stage coming up on the calendar. Saturday, Nov. 27, is Red Hot Hockey against Cornell at Madison Square Garden, and O’Connell said his group is ready and excited for the special matchup.
“That sort of venue, and that game, and that stage, guys will be ready to go for that for sure. You know, just the human nature piece of it,” O’Connell said. “The only tough part is traffic during Black Friday getting down there.”
O’Connell also said he thinks junior forward Matt Brown will make his long-awaited return this weekend against the Big Red Bears which would be a huge addition for the squad.
The puck will drop at MSG this Saturday at 8:00p.m. where we’ll have live coverage from the Big Apple. Per usual, stay up to date with us on Twitter @BOShockeyblog and Instagram @boston.hockey.blog throughout the week.