Game Recaps

Men’s Hockey falls to Cornell at Madison Square Garden

The Boston University men’s hockey team (4-9-2, 3-5-2 Hockey East) lost 6-4 after taking the stage at Madison Square Garden to face off against Cornell University (8-1) for the eighth edition of Red Hot Hockey. Under the brightest lights, the Terriers and the Big Red put on a high-scoring performance where the scarlet and white ultimately could not keep up. 

“I think we reverted back a little bit tonight. We had some moments where we didn’t manage the puck properly which cost us,” Head Coach Albie O’Connell said in the post game press conference. “Cornell’s a good hockey team, and they challenge you in a lot of different ways.”

Junior forward Matt Brown made his return to the lineup after missing four weekends due to injury. With two points (1g, 1a) in the five matchups he’s skated in, and a big personality in the locker room, the Terriers were no doubt excited to see him back in the BU sweater. 

“I thought Matt had some good shifts out there. It’s tough, it’s his first game in a long time,” O’Connell said. “He’s not moving as well as he normally does but it was probably good for him to get in a game and see what he can do.” 

Scratched from the roster––it’s unclear whether he’s healthy or not––was junior forward Ethan Phillips. He has been an integral component to BU’s offense thus far, but the Terriers have become familiar with a changing lineup this season, so they took the absence in stride.   

The Big Red dominated the early minutes of the opening frame and notched the first tally of the night at 7:00. Launched by junior defenseman Sebastian Driven at the point, the puck was then deflected in front by freshman forward Kyler Koich to give his squad the 1-0 advantage. 

BU kept themselves in the game and countered Cornell’s rush as they got more shifts in and threw some rubber on freshman netminder Joe Howe––most shots from above the faceoff circle. Sophomore forward Dylan Peterson took the alternative approach, though, driving to the net at 10:30 to tie the competition at one a piece. 

Carrying the puck on the backhand through three Cornell players, Peterson garnered his sixth of the season by roofing it top shelf over Howe’s left shoulder. The beauty of a goal showcased the unwavering confidence the forward has gained this year and the leader he has turned into for the group. 

Junior forward Zach Tupker was sent to the box at 10:55 for a hooking penalty, giving the Terriers a chance to take hold of the lead. Unsuccessful on the man-advantage, BU then capitalized moments later with both teams at even-strength. 

Soaring into the Big Red zone, freshman forward Brian Carrabes released a snapshot that beat Howe left side, lifting BU to their first lead of the evening at 2-1. Junior forward Wilmer Skoog collected his seventh apple––in the big apple––of the year on the play. 

Cornell found the equalizer with a goal almost identical to their first––this time the initial shot from the point came from senior defenseman Cody Haiskanen. Freshman Ondrej Psenicka’s strong netfront presence redirected the puck past sophomore goaltender Drew Commesso.  

With time ticking away, sophomore forward Luke Tuch took an unnecessary and undisciplined cross checking penalty with 1:38 left on the clock which allowed senior forward Max Andreev to secure the Big Red a 3-2 lead going into the second period. 

20 minutes down, BU looked exceedingly better in the latter half of the first period despite some serious pressure from Cornell’s big and fast squad. They battled to stay at the Big Red’s compete level, but it wasn’t the prettiest hockey we’ve seen this season. 

“I thought some guys had some really good nights on a big stage––it was good to see––and we had some guys that faltered in that setting,” O’Connell said. 

The second period was arguably the Terriers’ worst of the matchup as they were getting pushed off of pucks and swarmed in all three zones. Senior forward Brenden Locke took advantage of BU’s flat play, mustering the puck from a Terrier turnover in their defensive zone, swooped around, and snapped it five hole. The 10:17 tally was one Commesso might’ve wanted back and propped Cornell up 4-2. 

Cornell put their physicality on display when junior Sam Malinksi absolutely dropped Skoog as he skated over the blueline on the offensive rush. There was no penalty on the play, but Andreev got called for hooking previous to the sturdy hit at 13:06. The Terriers had no puck luck on the power play. 

We got some 4-on-4 hockey towards the end of the second as junior forwards Jack Malone and Robert Mastrosimone each got sent to the sin bin within 30 seconds of each other. Junior defenseman Domenick Fensore and Case McCarthy collabed for BU’s third with 1:48 on the clock while each team was down a man. 

Swinging the puck from the left to the right side with a cross ice pass, Fensore connected with McCarthy––who leads the defensive group in scoring with 5 goals––who then dumped it into the open net that a sprawling Howe could not cover. The middle frame would end 4-3, the late tally giving BU some momentum heading into the final 20 minutes of play…but they didn’t act on it. 

The Terriers simply got outworked in the third period. Cornell was the more aggressive and detail oriented team who capitalized on the disheveled and sloppy performance BU put on the ice. 

“If you watched the way Cornell blocked shots, compared to the way our guys blocked shots tonight, it was night and day. That’s an area we really need to improve,” O’Connell said.  

Malinski deflated the BU bench at 3:40 as he weaved his way through three Terriers, right down the middle from center ice, and lifted it gloveside past Commesso. The highlight-reel-worthy goal reclaimed the two goal advantage for the Big Red who now led 5-3. 

With a majority of the period still left, BU lacked a real sense of urgency to get themselves back in the competition. Weak passes and muffled communication hindered the group from making any tangible progress anywhere on the ice. Cornell also played a great shutdown period, so big credit to them.

Junior forward Ben Berard scored with under five minutes remaining and it officially felt like the nail in the coffin. With their third goal off of a faceoff win, it was another soft shot from the point that got tapped in on its way to the net through traffic. 

Although freshman forward Tyler Boucher scored at 19:04 to reach the final score of 6-4, it seemed as though the Terriers lost hope early on in the closing frame. The grit and determination seen from BU in both the Northeastern and UMass series was missing in a good chunk of tonight’s game. 

Commesso faced 23 shots in the loss, letting in an uncharacteristic six goals, but he was put in some tough positions. O’Connell said he wasn’t worried about the goaltender. 

“Statistically, obviously it’s not a great night when he looks at it. But there’s times when goalies don’t have a chance,” O’Connell said. “I think he has played terrific of late and he’s a confident kid, he’ll bounce back.”

An unwanted outcome still warranted an entertaining game at the World’s Most Famous Arena. The Terriers have a lot to take from going up against a group with immense talent and tenacity like Cornell. 

BU will now prepare for their upcoming series against the University of New Hampshire which they’ll play on Friday and Saturday this weekend. Friday’s matchup is at Agganis Arena and will start at 7:30p.m.. We’ll have a preview up later this week and live coverage for both games. Per usual, follow along on Twitter @BOShockeyblog and Instagram for all things Terrier hockey.


  1. As I mentioned earlier In the last thread almost verbatim to what coach said we took a step back last night the four deflected goals took our goalie out of it as coach and I agree shots can’t get through like that and our D can’t be just standing next to forwards we are just making it worse move some bodies. I said it last night we have the better team but we did not carry the play long enough. I have seen enough of this team to know when they stretch the ice and play smart decisive hockey they are Dominant when they lack that killer instinct and sit back on there heels they play into there oppositions game plan. I like coach saw terrific effort from guys but if your not going to play with a identity as a team your not going to win. I wanted to point out that by far the best player on the ice last night was Dom Fensore I was happy for him playing on his home ice . He was creating 70% of our total offense. He made a tough pass look easy for a goal. Also on defense did we get lucky getting Ty Gallager I see potential in his offensive capability but defensively I can’t remember the last guy to beat him one on one. He’s a terrific kid and will only get better. He has leadership qualities already as a freshman. Offensively Carabis this kid has surprised a lot of people me included he never stops skating and he’s fearless in the corners. Dylan Peterson is hot and played well. Why I mentioned a few individuals is because it’s important to be positive so many of the comments on this blog are negative towards the program. We need more positivity so I wanted to highlight some positive play from last night. I would be more concerned if the effort was not there but it is we just need to play better team hockey. Big weekend with 6 points up for grabs against a scrappy UNH team bu needs to show up as a team.

  2. How’s your optimism now Colin? Still see lots of improvement?
    In the last 8 games they have won 1 game?

    I know you are not supposed to single out players but guess what D man had another-2 night? Shhhh

    Zero chemistry with any lines. Mostly dump it in and the other team easily breaks it out.

    4-9-2. And that ‘s ok with you diehards with the rose colored glasses? True fans you are. Keep cheering on this kinda crappy play:

  3. Vinnie I’m not happy about the record you seem to be. I have optimism because it’s November and I have seen what this team can do when they play there game. I referenced some positives because no one associated with the program wants to hear negative banter based on a agenda of change. You can knock me for supporting my team all you want but by now you must realize I’m a bu fan the largest one they have. I don’t have any connections with the university I did not go to school there. I’m not the President of the Booster club I’m not a guy that needs his ego rubbed. I’m a guy who devotes tremendous amounts of energy to this program because I have grown up a die hard bu fan my allegiance to the program has been carved out through the numerous friendships I have with previous players and families this year is no different. Everyone associated with this team coaches parents fans want them to succeed you want to bash the program that’s not helping it to succeed. I’m incredibly frustrated with last nights game but you have to be positive or the season is over . Kids need to learn a important lesson I have been around hockey and hockey players for years I have been working in the big leagues for over 20 yrs. one of my favorite ball players who was very good to me told me if you quit just once if you give up just once the next time your presented with that opportunity it’s that much easier to do. So to answer your question vinnie no I’m not giving up in fact I will cheer even harder for this team. It’s a great program and I remain positive. Go bu

  4. Mark’s Cornell fan observation from the last thread rings true. Kudos to a non-BU person for describing our play so succinctly…

    “One Cornell fan described BU as “sloppy and disorganized but dangerous” in which a lack of team cohesion cancels out individual talent and leads to a sub-.500 record and an uphill climb towards any type of respectability. Step forward, step back. Step forward, step back.”

    And therein lies our main issue. We’ve got plenty of talent. The effort is there. But it’s not translating to winning hockey on the ice.

    As I’ve said before, I judge head coaches on whether their team performs more than, at, or less than the sum of its parts.

    I don’t think it’s unfair to say we’ve been less than the sum of our parts over the past 3.5 seasons. It’s also fair to ask if a Leaman or Carvel or Pecknold or similar coach would have had more success with this group of BU players over those years. My personal opinion is “yes”. If your answer is “no” then the issue still rests at the feet of the coaching staff since they recruit the players.

    The reality is, this is the 20th season that the PWR has been used to compare teams to all other teams. Three of the last four seasons have registered our worst PWR rankings with only Quinn’s first season ranking lower. And we’re worse off today, ranking wise, than we’ve been in the past three seasons. In other words, we’re trending down.

    This isn’t a situation where anyone stopped caring or checked out. It’s not a situation where we haven’t had quality goaltending (remember the famous quote from the person who said “hockey” should be renamed “goalie”?) It’s a situation where (for whatever reasons) a coaching staff hasn’t been able to coach sustained winning hockey.

    None of us are the AD. Our comments on this blog won’t move the needle one way or another. And I’ve maintained from the start of the season that this was Albie’s make or break year since, as far as any of us know, he hasn’t been given a contract extension.

    Thus far, it’s been ugly. 4-9-2 and 1-6-2 in our last 9 even with getting good players back in the lineup. Which begs the question, after 3.5 seasons, why are we still struggling as a “team”. And why have so many veteran players taken steps backward this year?

    I don’t think the AD would make a move in-season (unless we have a similar 1-6-2 run in the coming weeks and lose the Beanpot opener) so I think Albie will get the rest of the season to show he and his coaches can get through to their players and make a noticeable and remarkable turnaround. Here’s to hoping they can do that.

    And if after the season the AD decides that there aren’t enough positive reasons to continue in this direction, he’ll make a change. As soon as a coach is hired, he/she is one day closer to getting fired (or retired). That’s just sports. It’s up to them prove they deserve to be in the big seat.

    Things don’t look good at the moment but stranger things have happened. It will be interesting to see if we lose anyone during the semester break or if any recruits start having second thoughts. That would potentially accelerate some thinking. But in the absence of that, it’s really up to Albie to show he deserves an extension.

    I’ll throw this question out there. If we can’t do better than scrape back to .500 for the season (god help us if we can’t even do that), should Albie get extended and, if yes, for how many years? And with that extension, what are the targets that need to be met? Record/Beanpots/Hockey East Tournament Wins/NCAA appearances/Frozen Four appearances? I suspect the one thing we can all agree on is .500 hockey with no Beanpots, no Hockey East Titles, and no deep NCAA tournament runs isn’t acceptable for too much longer.

    I’ve been a season ticket holder for 30 years. I’m not going anywhere. But if the BU turnout at Red Hot Hockey is any indication, the program isn’t keeping the attention of the larger fanbase. And it’s hard to get the more casual fans back in this day and age.

    It starts with UNH. I expect a sweep and for us to stop making the same mistakes over and over again and instead start a winning streak. I know that would put us all in better moods.

  5. I’m with Mike. Spot on

  6. Mike, your analysis is right on point and well written.

    I have been a terrier hockey fan for over 60 years but this is the first time that I have participated in this or any other terrier forum. I do so now because I feel the pain of what is obvious.

    Red Hot Hockey is instructive. Cornell is perpetually outperforming the sum of their parts. They will occasionally get a top rated player but more likely will fill their roster with good players that will work hard within a disciplined system and likely will play their last hockey game as a Senior at Cornell. Don’t get me wrong. They do have players who go on and make it to the NHL but they know that it’s all about the system, and that Cornell system seems to get perpetuated each year.

    I think that we played under a system with Jack Parker and Jack Kelley, and the results were usually better than the sum of the parts. Good players became great, and many of them stayed three or four years and then went to the NHL. We had some one and dones but they were exceptional players and were more of an exception than the rule.

    I think that AOC has done some really good things, not the least of which is improving the quality of our student athletes that we are recruiting. And, they are staying later and getting degrees. However, many do not seem to be improving year to year. We also play without purpose and do seem to be disorganized. We continue to make the same mistakes. We are undisciplined . In my view, we seem to have lost the BU way which speaks to me as the absence of what was once the Parker/ Kelley system.

    I do not know whether this coaching staff can turn it around. It is also possible that the current recruiting system targets players who may have peaked early. Or, maybe we are not looking for players who are not highly recruited but have great upside (although there are players who may fit that category). All those things need to be examined by the AD in the weeks and months ahead. In the meantime, let’s stay with the program and help fill the seats.

  7. I do not intend to stop pulling for them to win. I hate when they lose and for someone to say I am happy about their record is just plain ignorant. Guess you always must consider the source

    The disjointed play of the forward lines, the constant defensive breakdowns, and mediocre goaltending all point to the need of a coaching change. I wish that wasn’t the case and there are no guarantees the new coach can turn it around. But it’s worth a shot cuz this is going to get worse. So far there are no steps forward, only backward ones. We will see defections and decommits at this rate. Inevitable

    The question I have is does the BU administration care about the fortunes of the men’s hockey program? Do they really care about the rich tradition? The ultimate irony is that here we are celebrating 100 years of BU hockey with this sub-500 team. A slap in the face if you ask me

    I do not doubt that everyone who takes the time to write on this blog really cares about this program and none of us are happy- from the pessimists to the optimists. We might see things differently but we all want BU hockey to thrive. I am proud to say I have been a terrier fanatic since 1963. I am just not proud of the current state of affairs.

  8. Colin,

    I know you are a good fan and may have been to every game coach AOC has coached.

    My question is this. In his four years as head coach how many players left the program better then when they got here.

    I think this question is very relevant as all our players have taken a step back from their performances from last year.

    All other bloggers fell free to chime in here.

    I can only come up with two and I would only give AOC credit for one.

  9. Ozzie,

    I think the more telling question is who “significantly” improved in that time as most players will at least get a little better with more experience.


    Can’t find anyone else who “significantly” improved.

    As you noted, this season’s squad has some head-scratching performances. Fensore and McCarthy have been better offensively but really poor defensively. Vlasic and Cockerill have taken huge and unexpected steps backward in both areas. Mastrosimone has probably been out best/most consistent player (he’s our only player with a +/- better than +1 but he’s butchered quite a few breakaways that may have changed a few results.) If you look at the +/- of the entire roster it’s U-G-L-Y. Nobody’s really “taken the leap” when looking at both parts of the game. Boucher has been pretty poor in all fascists. Skoog could probably be described as “the same” and Phillips has been stuck in “neutral”. Peterson’s been solid. Can’t really judge Amonte and Tuch since they’ve missed so much collective time.

    Thus, your point is well taken.