By James Garrison
The Boston University Men’s Hockey Team (9-9-3, 5-5-3 Hockey East) faced off against the Arizona State University Sun Devils (12-12–0) for the second matchup in their weekend series at Agganis Arena Saturday night. After a 7-1 rout of the Sun Devils Friday night, the Terriers sought to continue their momentum into Saturday and completed the sweep with a 5-2 win.
The Terriers also expected a stronger push from ASU on Saturday, knowing that they had not yet played their best hockey. In playing a solid, albeit somewhat weaker game Saturday, the Terriers were still able to handle the Sun Devils fairly soundly.
“Wasn’t a perfect game for us,” Head Coach Albie O’Connell said in his post-game press conference. “You’ve got to tip your cap to Arizona State, they came out really hard and they played right down to the wire”.
The Terriers were without junior defenseman Case McCarthy on Saturday night after missing junior defenseman Alex Vlasic for a majority of the game on Friday. Junior defenseman John Copeland filled in to take McCarthy’s place in the lineup.
“I thought [Copeland] played really well,” O’Connell said. “He played pretty simple, he played strong. I thought his breakouts were pretty good.” Copeland logged two shots on net and two blocks in his seventh game of the season.
The Terriers’ scoring did not start until later in the first period when freshman defenseman Ty Gallagher found himself in the right place at the right time to bury a chance four on four that was set up by junior forward Jay O’Brien.
Just when it seemed that each side would head to the locker room with the score at 1-0, junior forward Matt Brown received a cross-ice pass and sniped it blocker side past Sun Devils’ netminder Ben Kraws to put BU up 2-0.
“I thought we had some really timely goals, especially the ones at the end of the period,” said O’Connell. The Terriers’ theme of timely goals continued to be felt in the second period.
In the second period, the Terriers were able to stymie a late push by Arizona State with two back-to-back goals by sophomore forward Luke Tuch, only 1:05 apart. The Terriers would take a 4-0 into the locker room after two periods.
For Tuch, it is his fourth goal in three games after another two-goal performance against Brown on New Year’s Eve. After being held pointless in his first nine games of the season, Tuch has recorded four goals and one assist in his last three games.
When asked post-game what he could attribute his recent offensive output to, Tuch said “being more patient” and “not chasing the game and letting it come to [him],” Tuch also credited his linemates. “Jay O’Brien and Max Kaufman have been really good for me and have complimented my game well”, “I think we work really well together”.
The Terriers fought back against two third period goals from Arizona State and junior forward Jay O’Brien punctuated the win with an empty-net goal to ice the weekend for the Terriers. O’Brien recorded five points this weekend and has seven points in his last three games.
The Terriers outscored Arizona State 12-3 on the weekend and heavily outplayed a team that has beaten top-ranked schools, most notably a sweep of Cornell last weekend. With this weekend sweep, it extends the Terriers’ NCAA unbeaten streak to five games.
At almost full strength, the Terriers now have four dangerous lines of offense, a backend that is coming into its own, and very strong goaltending in sophomore Drew Commesso. With a 17-4 goal differential in three games to start off the second semester, things are starting to fall in place for BU.
With three straight wins to start the second half of the season, the Terriers look like a different team in the early stages of the second semester. Only having lost one game in regulation in their last eleven games, the Terriers look to be turning the page on a poor start to the season.
“We know what type of team we can be and how special we are,” said Tuch post-game. “I think going forward we’re gonna have a really good team and we’re excited for the run that’s going to come.”
The Terriers look forward to next week with only one game on the docket, a Friday night showdown with the UNH Wildcats in Hartford, Connecticut with puck drop set for 7:05pm as the Terriers look to keep their momentum and return to Hockey East play.
Coverage for next week’s (and every game) can be found here at the blog as well as live updates on Twitter @BOShockeyblog and on Instagram @boston.hockey.blog.