Following the sharp sting of last night’s shootout loss to Boston College, the Boston University men’s hockey team (6-9-3, 5-5-3 Hockey East) had a quick turnaround with a matinee matchup against the U.S. under-18 National Team. BU fell 4-3, now heading into winter break for some much-needed rest.
“All-in-all it’s a bad scheduling game by us a little bit––I think originally it was supposed to be on Sunday,” Head Coach Albie O’Connell said in the post game press conference. “The quick turnaround going from an electric night to a building that wasn’t that crowded is sometimes a tough mental challenge.”
Four future Terriers made their Agganis Arena debut playing for the development program. Forwards Quinn Hutson, Jack Harvey, and Devin Kaplan, as well as defenseman Lane Hutson are all headed to Comm Ave within the next couple of years.
BU had some notable changes in their lineup, getting the opportunity to deal some ice time to players like Sean Driscoll and John Copeland. The two defensemenboth left their homes at the blueline to fill in as forwards with junior Markus Boguslavsky.
Sophomore goaltender Drew Commesso got the afternoon off as did some of the Terriers’ top guys due to injury and fatigue. Ashton Abel was between the pipes for the first time in almost a year––his last start was on Feb. 5, 2021 against BC. The junior netminder had a mediocre game, somewhat expectedly, with 20 saves.
NTDP had a real spunk to their game from puck drop, playing with a chip on their shoulder as the younger group. BU was able to counter their aggressive strikes during the first period, but the gas seemed to run out of the tank as the competition spanned on.
The Terriers got on the board first with a power play goal from freshman defenseman Ty Gallagher after forward Ryan Leonard got called for interference at 14:31. Blasting it from the point, Gallagher continued his point streak following his three apples in last night’s game to give BU a 1-0 lead.
The development program got their chance on the man-advantage towards the end of the period. Sophomore forward Robert Mastrosimone was sent to the box for delay-of-game at 19:24, shifting the momentum as the first closed out. Copeland had a hefty blocked shot on the penalty kill, hobbling off the ice to end the opening period.
Things went downhill from there, but it’s questionable how disappointed one can actually be. Coming off an emotionally and physically exhausting game against BC, with less than 24 hours rest, and a chunk of the team suffering from the flu, it’s hard to put together a good 60 minutes.
“If you were in our video meeting this morning, you might’ve thrown on a couple masks––there’s a lot of sickness going around the room,” O’Connell said. “We’re a pretty beat-up group, so the break’s coming at a perfect time.”
The NTDP collected two tallies in the second period. University of Michigan recruit, forward Rutger McGroarty, opened up scoring for his squad at 1:51, snapping one fivehole on Abel from the left circle.
BU’s third power play turned into a highlight-reel for their opponents. The development program showcased a shutdown penalty kill with tight defense, limiting the Terriers’ space to get a cycle going, and leading to a shorthanded goal from forward Brady Berard.
Forward Frank Nazar III was on the rush without a stick, picked one up while dashing past the bench, kicked the puck forward while adjusting to the new twig, then settled the rubber and got it across to Berard to make the game 2-1 at 11:57. You almost couldn’t be mad about the goal because it was so cool to watch.
Towards the end of the middle frame, defenseman Kaden Muir and junior forward Sam Stevens got in a tussle in front of the BU bench, prompting the Northeastern recruit to throw some punches. Stevens was dealt two for roughing while Muir got a five-minute-major for contact to the head––the Terriers would start the third with the man-advantage.
Mastrosimone got one past goaltender Tyler Muszelik on the power play––his first goal since the team’s weekend in Northern Michigan––at 2:40 of the closing period. Junior defenseman Domenick Fensore’s initial shot was blocked in front where Mastrosimone then gathered the rebound and wristed it top shelf to knot the game at two a piece.
The Terriers had a chance to regain the lead on a Berard penalty, but ended up doing the exact opposite…again. Unassisted, forward Cutter Guathier was alone on the breakaway and dumped the puck into the back of the net on a low-rising shot at 6:55. BU’s structural breakdown proved to have its costs.
“Hard to win a game when you give up two short-handed goals. I’m just glad we got out of it with no more injuries,” O’Connell said.
The NTDP widened the scoring gap at 13:22 with a goal from forward Quinn Hutson––but he’s a BU recruit so one could also see this as a positive in the long run. Trying to stay optimistic over here. Hutson intercepted a pass from Fensore, dragged the puck from the right of the crease, and tucked it behind Abel’s left pad for a 4-2 boost.
Hutson’s group really played with an edge and an energizing level of confidence that propelled them through the afternoon. Frustrations were visibly rising for the scarlet and white, culminating in a blunder of penalties in the later minutes of the third for both sides.
In a dying breath, junior forward Matt Brown got the Terriers within one with 2:04 on the clock after his wrist shot from near the right faceoff dot lit the lamp. BU was unable to force overtime and the buzzer at the end of the period was somewhat of a relief.
The Terriers will now head into a three week break as the holidays approach. The first half of the season has shown some really high highs accompanied by some really low lows––the group has a lot to reflect on and grow from as they look to regroup during this time off.
Battling through injuries, sickness––and to put it bluntly–– some painfully poor performances at points, the Terriers need to take their effort from games like Northeastern, UMass, and the majority of BC, and apply it to the second half of the year.
This team’s got the components to put together consistent winning hockey, but everyone on that bench has got to show up night in and night out––from lowerclassmen, to upperclassmen, to the coaching staff.
“I think we learned a lot about the group, I think we’ve got the ability to make a push in the second half,” O’Connell said. “We’ve played a lot of the teams at the top of the league––from a points standpoint––and we fare pretty well.”
BU will take the ice again on Dec. 31 in Rhode Island for a New Years Eve matchup against Brown University at 2:00p.m.. Until then, let’s hope the guys get some rest, reset, and come back ready to compete.
The Boston Hockey Blog will try to have as much coverage as possible during our winter break. Follow along on Twitter @BOShockeyblog and Instagram @boston.hockey.blog for updates on all things BU hockey in the meantime.