The Boston University men’s hockey team (11-10-3, 7-6-3 HE) was back at Agganis Arena this afternoon for the second game of their series against the University of Vermont Catamounts (4-15-2, 3-8-2 HE). The matinee matchup resulted in a shutout 4-0 win, a collegiate first for sophomore netminder Drew Commesso.
“We did a lot of things better tonight, we had a lot more urgency to our game,” Head Coach Albie O’Connell said in the postgame press conference. “First shift of the game, with our leaders out there, they kind of set the tone for the game.”
O’Connell made a couple lineup changes for today’s competition after some lackluster play from portions of the roster last night. Sophomore forward Dylan Peterson and junior forward Jamie Armstrong were both snubbed from the fourth line and replaced with Sam Stevens and Brian Carrabes.
Freshman forward Tristan Amonte took Stevens’ space as the extra skater, and junior forward Ethan Phillips traded first line spots with graduate student forward Max Kaufman who skated on the third line.
“We thought he could give a little bit of a dynamic skating quality to that line. Whatever line he’s been on he’s really helped,” O’Connell said of Phillips.
Commesso remained in net for the second competition. There were some thoughts of giving Vinny Duplessis some ice time before the Terriers’ regular starter leaves for the Olympics on Jan. 30th, but no changes were made between the pipes.
With his first collegiate shutout, Commesso put up 35 saves for a beyond-deserved stat to have on his resume.
“It’s obviously great getting a shutout––I feel like the last few weekends we’ve been really close, but at the same time it’s a team effort,” Commesso said in the postgame press conference. “Shutout’s nice but you know I really care about getting the win.”
BU got on the board first and early with a tip-in goal from junior forward Sam Stevens. The original snapshot came from Carrabes above the left faceoff circle, and Stevens was able to get some wood on it to give the Terriers a 1-0 lead at 2:48, and notch his fourth goal of the season.
It was great to see Stevens get rewarded this afternoon after playing a pretty thorough 60 minutes last night. He’s clearly working to keep his spot in the lineup and it has evidently shown this weekend.
“You can call it our fourth line, but they were one of our best lines tonight,” O’Connell said.
UVM looked for the equalizer on the power play after junior forward Jay O’Brien was dealt two minutes for holding at 12:40. BU put together a strong penalty kill and limited Catamount chances, protecting their one goal advantage.
The opening period ended with the two teams tied 9-9 in SOG––a much more even ratio than last game. The Terriers put forth an extra hustle throughout the first 20 minutes, jumping on loose pucks and having an intentionality to their actions.
Both groups had chances on the man-advantage throughout the second period, but the Terriers didn’t strike until seconds after getting back to even strength. Freshman defenseman Ty Gallagher had an outstanding assist.
Using his patience to pull sophomore goaltender Gabe Carriere out of the crease, Gallagher then dropped it to a wide open Phillips net front who made the game 2-0 at 15:21.
“Gally just has like ice water in his veins poise,” O’Connell said. “That was a huge, huge goal.”
Doubling their lead late in the second period was an important turning point for the Terriers who swayed the momentum going into the final 20 minutes of play.
BU got two more tallys on the board before the buzzer at the end of the third. Junior forward Robert Mastrosimone had a character-like highlight reel breakaway rush at 2:07 to advance his squad’s advantage to 3-0. Hustling through a UVM defenseman at the blueline, and then deking Carriere, Mastro garnered his second goal of the weekend.
Playing in front of his friends and family for the first time at BU, Phillips secured a two-goal performance with a confident play. Picking up a lobbed cross-zone pass from O’Brien, Phillips lifted and flipped the puck over the goaltender’s shoulder, reaching the night’s final 4-0 score.
“With the time I spent out, I had a lot of time to think about the type of player I wanted to be when I came back,” Phillips said in the postgame press conference. “Playing to my strengths, using my skating––if I can bring that every night I think that’s the biggest part of my game.”
The Terriers have a quick turnaround this week as they’re headed to Amherst on Tuesday for a 7:00pm matchup against UMass. This will be a good test to gauge the strength of the BU group in the second half of the season. We’ll have full coverage on the blog, and as always follow along on Twitter @BOShockeyblog and Instagram @boston.hockey.blog for further updates.