The Boston University men’s hockey team (10-9-3, 6-5-3 Hockey East) came out victorious tonight with a 2-1 overtime win against the University of Connecticut Huskies (9-9-0, 6-5-0 HE). In their first league game of 2022, BU extended their win streak to four games and continued the turnaround narrative they’ve begun to write in the second half of the season.
“I’m just really happy with our team, our effort, coming down here and continuing to try to improve as a group,” Head Coach Albie O’Connell said in the post game press conference. “Hopefully we can just keep going.”
The Huskies entered the first with energy and tried to gain control of the game on home ice, but the Terriers were able to counter and gained some momentum with a solid penalty kill early on. BU has been skating with a greater sense of confidence the past couple weekends.
Sophomore goaltender and usual starter Drew Commesso was in between the pipes for the Terriers on the heels of being named to the USA Olympic team roster. He’ll miss a chunk of the season with BU, but O’Connell said the group completely has his back.
“We’re psyched for him, it’s a big honor,” O’Connell said. “He gets a chance to represent his country and we told him that with whatever his decision was we’d support him either way––not too often a 19-year-old goaltender gets an opportunity to go to the Olympics.”
The Terriers went on the power play at 11:29 but did not get on the board until 2:50 when sophomore forward Ethan Phillips and junior forward Matt Brown went to work in the UConn zone.
Phillips carried the puck over the blueline, protecting the rubber from three Huskies, before he dropped it off for Brown who backhanded it bardown on the right side to give his squad a 1-0 lead. Brown has scored in all three of BU’s last games.
Phillips had an outstanding performance tonight, and his line with senior forward Ty Amonte and junior forward Wilmer Skoog produced an impressive amount of chances for the scarlet and whtie throughout the competition.
“I think that was one of the best games Ethan Phillips has played in his career,” O’Connell said. “He was all over the ice––on the forecheck, he was good in our zone, he scored off the rush. I think he was a guy that made that line go.”
It was a scoreless second period, but both sides could’ve collected a couple tallys if it weren’t for the stellar goaltending on either side of the rink. The Terriers hit their fourth post in the middle frame, coming inches away from extending their lead multiple times.
Graduate student netminder Darion Hanson absolutely robbed sophomore defenseman Cade Webber of his first collegiate goal with a sprawling save halfway through the period. Kicking his right heel out to stop the puck from trickling over the goalline, Hanson kept his team within one.
Junior forward Jay O’Brien also almost doubled his group’s advantage in the last minute of the period on the breakaway, but Hanson stood tall once again. OB would get his revenge with the eventual overtime game winner.
“He’s been on the shelf quite a bit, and we’re a better hockey team when he’s in the lineup,” O’Connell said.
UConn skated into the third period hunting for the equalizer and sustained pressure in the BU end for extended amounts of time, but it never felt like the Terriers had lost full control even when the Huskies tied the game.
Chase Bradley knotted the matchup at one a piece at 13:00 after a scramble in front of Commesso’s crease spat the puck out to the freshman forward who sent it soaring to the back of the net. The BU bench responded well, maintaining their compete level and composure.
The Terriers had one of their best nights at the faceoff circle which allowed them to manage their play with more ease and dominance as the clock wore down and the third period eventually ended. Faceoffs had been an area of struggle for the group earlier on, so it’s great to see the improvement.
“We were pretty pleased with at least our alertness and competitiveness off draws,” O’Connell said. “We outbattled them off the faceoff there in overtime, OB pushed through it, and we end up with a 2-on-1 and a goal so it was definitely a factor in the game.”
Tied 1-1 at the end of regulation, each team got a point and headed to overtime to determine who would collect the extra point up for grabs––and it didn’t take long. Fans were barely back in their seats before the Terrier team flooded the ice to celebrate O’Brien’s game winning goal.
Only eight seconds into the free hockey, O’Brien soared up the right side and snapped one past Hanson to end the game and secure a 2-1 victory for the away team.
This BU group has really found themselves in the past couple games as more guys come back from injury and the believability on the bench strengthens. It’s exciting to see the team play up to their potential and finally have some fun on the ice.
With only one game this weekend, the Terriers will be back in action next Friday when they’ll kick off their series against the University of Vermont at 7:00pm at Agganis Arena. We’ll have a preview and live coverage of the game as usual and follow along on Twitter @BOShockeyblog and Instagram @boston.hockey.blog for further updates.