In a packed Agganis Arena, the Boston University Terriers (6-9-2, 5-5-2 HE) closed out the first half of the regular season with a heartbreaking shootout loss against the rival Boston College Eagles (8-5-3, 5-3-2) in the 285th meeting of the Battle of Comm Ave. The Terriers completely outshined their opponents in more ways than one––for the first 40 minutes––before falling apart in the third period in a deflating loss.
In the first rendition of the Green Line Rivalry in front of fans since February 2020, BU pulled out all of the stops in a touching memoriam of legendary Terrier Hockey coach Jack Kelley, who passed away last September. A tribute video with interviews from former coach Jack Parker and current Head Coach Albie O’Connell honored Kelley as the founder of the BU Men’s Hockey system, paving the way for a legacy to follow.
The Terriers also dressed in throwback jerseys to commemorate the 1918 opening season of BU Hockey.
“It was awesome,” freshman defenseman Ty Gallagher said. “It was a cool production and I thought it brought a lot of energy to our team; brought a lot of confidence. I feel like we played with that confidence and that swagger tonight.”
After a ceremonial puck drop by Kelley’s great grandson––also named Jack––the Terriers and Eagles began an exhilarating 65 minutes of back-and-forth hockey. BU dominated early on, applying solid pressure for long stretches of time and successfully clearing the zone in the opening minutes.
Just over 10 minutes into the game, Gallagher’s shot on net deflected off of Eagle goalie Eric Dop’s pad, landing on the stick of junior Robert Mastrosimone who got it out to a wide open Domenick Fensore for the go-ahead goal. With the tally, Fensore collected his 14th point of the season.
Gallagher has also been off to a hot start of his rookie season, garnering three assists in tonight’s matchup alone, for a total of nine on the season.
“Ty’s a gamer. You know, when the bright lights come, he shows up,” O’Connell said after the game. “He loves to play. He’s really competitive. He had really good poise I thought tonight through pretty good stretches.”
BU’s senior leadership of Logan Cockerill, Max Kaufman, Ty Amonte, and Alex Vlasic, had their most offensively-productive weekend of the season in the UNH series after a slow start to each of their seasons. After breaking the ice though, Kaufman earned his third goal in just as many games at 11:32 of the second. Some confusion in the Eagle’s zone gave Gallagher the room to make a stretch pass to a lonely Kaufman, who capitalized on the breakaway to put the Terriers ahead by two.
“He’s been terrific. He’s been good all year,” O’Connell said of his graduate pick-up. “He just needed to break the ice with a goal, and all of a sudden he’s got, I think, four in just a couple games.”
Also worth mentioning is goaltender Drew Commesso’s poise and control throughout an intense, high-shooting matchup. Numbers aside, Commesso’s 28-save night kept the Terriers in the game through the end of overtime, stopping wrap-around attempts and standing tall through moments of confusion in his crease.
While the game started off as the Terriers’ most solid 40 minutes of play over their biggest rivals, a fire must’ve sparked in the BC locker room, turning the game around in favor of the visitors. Only one minute into the final frame, senior captain Marc McLaughlin got a puck through traffic to lift his squad within one. Six minutes after the McLaughlin goal, Nikita Nesterenko added another for his group. And when things couldn’t get any worse, the Eagles added a third thanks to a tic-tac-toe goal from Patrick Giles, with assists by McLaughlin and Jack St. Ivany.
“You’re down two-nothing, but games swing back and forth,” Eagles head coach and recent USA Hockey Hall of Fame inductee Jerry York said after his victory. “College hockey, pro hockey, [it’s] the same thing; you just can’t ever give up.”
Despite going down 3-2 in the span of seven minutes, Kaufman, Gallagher, and Amonte combined for Kaufman’s second of the night to keep the Terriers in the game, tying the score at 3 to close out regulation.
A wild 3v3 overtime saw even more exchanges from both sides, but Dop and Commesso stood tall in their respective nets. BU’s best OT chance came two minutes into the period when Commesso’s pass to Matt Brown sent him on a breakaway, but he couldn’t capitalize on the opportunity, and the match went down as a tie in the books, followed by a five-round shootout in which BC’s Trevor Kuntar sealed the deal for his squad.
“Obviously the records not something that we look for,” the freshman defenseman said. “We’ve been playing really good hockey, and I feel like it’s something that we can build off of, and, you know, bring it into the Beanpot and into March and the playoffs,” Gallagher said.
BU will host the US National Under-18 team on Saturday afternoon at 3p.m. in an exhibition matchup before heading into the mid-semester break for the holidays. Follow along on Twitter @BOSHockeyBlog and on Instagram @Boston.Hockey.Blog for updates.