After ending the year on a high note in Providence last week, the Boston University men’s hockey team (8-9-3, 5-5-3 Hockey East) was back on home ice for the first of two matchups against the Arizona State University Sun Devils (12-11). In their first appearance at Agganis Arena of 2022, the Terriers put together a dominant 7-1 victory, picking up right where they left off for one of their highest scoring games of the season.
Sophomore goaltender Drew Commesso put the scarlet and white back on after briefly playing in the World Junior’s for team USA before the tournament’s cancellation. He ended the night with 26 saves as he’s continued to be a trusty leader for the group.
The Terriers came into the first period with some real jump, showing their physicality through the opening minutes. Although the initial 20 minutes ended with a 0-0 score, BU presented opportunistic hockey and used their speed to get ahead in all three zones.
“From the drop of the puck in the first shift, we were there,” Head Coach Albie O’Connell said in the post game press conference. “I think it was about as thorough as we’ve played all year––it’s exciting.”
BU got on the board early in the second period at 1:49 when freshman forward Tristan Amonte garnered his first collegiate goal. Skating in his first game since Nov. 20, junior forward Ethan Phillips picked up an apple on the play as well as Tristan’s older brother, senior forward Ty Amonte, who was perhaps the most excited about the tally.
About a minute later, junior defenseman Alex Vlasic’s strong performance was cut short for the night as he was dealt a five minute major and game misconduct for hitting from behind. 4-on-4 hockey eventually ensued when senior forward Demetrios Koumontzis got called for slashing at 4:33, but there was no offensive production from either side.
Junior forward Robert Mastrosimone had an outstanding night, looking more like the self-starting and unstoppable force we saw earlier in the season. Scooping the puck up from behind the net and looping it around to the left side, Mastrosimone then dumped it to freshman defenseman Ty Gallagher who wristed it to the back of the net for a 2-0 advantage at 9:13.
Towards the end of the middle frame, Mastrosimone mustered a goal of his own. Deking out sophomore netminder Cole Brady before tucking it past his right pad, Mastrosimone lifted the Terriers to a 3-0 lead going into the third period. The forward really stepped up tonight after having a quieter end to 2021.
The Terriers and Sun Devils combined for five goals in the third period, culminating in a 7-1 final score. Arizona State got their first and only goal at 9:18 from graduate student and forward Sean Dhooghe who tipped sophomore forward Matthew Kopperud’s shot past Commesso.
Junior forward Jay O’Brien put a dent in Arizona’s comeback plan with what O’Connell called the “backbreaker,” when he scored off the rush at 11:34. Flying past three Sun Devils, O’Brien brought the puck to his backhand and dropped it past the goal line to advance his squad’s lead to 4-1.
BU played an organized and disciplined third period and shut down the away team. They created some of the best offensive chances and successes they’ve had in the 2021-2022 campaign while also putting great emphasis on the back end.
“Our commitment to defense was about as good as it’s been all year––blocked shots, playing hard at our net, and then we were on the attack,” O’Connell said.
Sophomore forward Dylan Peterson, and junior forwards Matt Brown and Jamie Armstrong all scored within the last 3:30 of the matchup––empty netter and power play goal included in the bundle. Armstrong collected his first of the season in the sequence.
Totaling 12 goals in their past two games, the Terriers have brought their goals-per-game average up to 2.9, an improvement from their previous struggles in the offensive zone. You can see the growing belief and swagger on the bench.
“I think our rushes have been a lot better,” O’Connell said. “I think we were playing really well, we just weren’t finishing.”
The two groups will be right back at it at Agganis tomorrow night at 7:00pm for the final game of the series. BU must build off the momentum they created tonight as they look for the weekend sweep.
“Now that we have everyone back, guys are pretty confident,” O’Connell said. “It’s important that we have the right mindset going into tomorrow.”
We’ll have a recap up on the blog following the buzzer in the third as well as updates on Twitter @BOShockeyblog. BHB will be back to full coverage next week including previews, recaps, and live tweeting.