By James Garrison
The Boston University men’s hockey team (12-10-3, 8-6-3 HE) traveled west for a regular season series finale against the No. 9 ranked UMass Amherst Minutemen (12-7-2, 9-3-2 HE) Tuesday night. The Terriers held on to an early lead to take home the rubber match with a 6-4 final.
The two sides met for the third time this season last night, with the both teams each taking a victory in a two-game November series. Going into the matchup, the Terriers sat seven points behind the Minutemen, who are in second place in Hockey East.
After delivering the Minutemen their first Hockey East regulation loss at home this season, the Terriers jumped ahead of Providence, Merrimack, and Northeastern and now sit in third place in Hockey East.
“Pretty excited to get a road win, especially up here in that environment,” said Head Coach Albie O’Connell in his post-game press conference. “Hard league to win in, hard to win up here (…) It’s a big game for us to continue to play well and get points in the league.”
The Terriers came out firing and delivered a very strong first period, going up 3-0 on the Minutemen after twenty minutes. The Terriers outshot UMass 7-2 to start off the first period and ended up with a 14-12 shot margin in the first.
Senior forward and captain Logan Cockerill started off the scoring after a dominant shift for the Terriers with 9:07 remaining in the first. Junior forward Matt Brown got one by Minutemen graduate goaltender Matt Murray to extend his point streak to six games and put the Terriers up 2-0.
Even with the first period coming to an end, BU was not done. Terriers’ junior forward Robert Mastrosimone got rewarded by going to the net and having a rebound go off his shoulder and get past Murray with just seven seconds remaining in the first.
“I thought we started well. I thought for the first two periods we controlled the play––especially the first. We had multiple odd-man rushes and we got a four-goal lead,” said O’Connell post-game.
The Terriers picked up right where they left off, with junior forward Ethan Phillips continuing his hot streak by blasting a shot past Murray with 16:28 remaining in the second to put the Terriers up 4-0. That would be the end of the night for Murray, as he would be replaced by freshman goaltender Luke Pavicich who saw his first game action of the season.
The Minutemen did not go down without a fight, however, as they got right back in the game with two quick tallies from senior forwards Anthony Del Gaizo and captain Bobby Trivigno only thirty-four seconds apart.
The back and forth battle would continue with Cockerill and UMass freshman defensemen Scott Morrow trading blows later in the period, with goals only eleven seconds apart.
Cockerill scored two of his three goals this season tonight and was complemented by his coach after the game for his leadership ability.
“Our leaders on the bench were really good,” O’Connell said. “I thought Logan did a good job…of trying to keep things calm––relaying the right messages.”
In terms of those messages, Cockerill said he was telling his guys not to get ahead of themselves emotionally with the lead.
“You’ve got to make sure when they do get that one goal or those two goals that you don’t fall into a little bit of a hole…We managed our emotions and we did alright, we got out of it,” Cockerill said in the postgame press conference.
The Minutemen would continue their attempted comeback in the third period, with junior defensemen Matthew Kessel bringing UMass within one goal with 10:32 remaining in regulation.
O’Connell said the Terriers “bent, we didn’t break” in the third period. Despite being outshot 15-4 in the third, the Terriers were able to take home a 6-4 win off of graduate forward Max Kaufman’s empty-netter.
O’Connell revealed after the game that Terriers’ sophomore goaltender Drew Commesso was dealing with an illness during the game and in between periods.
“Commesso was throwing up a couple of times between the first and the second period,” he said.
Commesso stopped 32 of 36 shots faced Tuesday night and is slated for his final start Sunday against Providence College before he departs to represent team USA at the Winter Olympics in Beijing.
With the win, the Terriers’ second-half record improves to 6-0-1 and they can count only one regulation loss since the Northern Michigan series in early November.
“I think we’ve grown as a team too,” O’Connell said when asked about the Terriers’ improved play since returning to full health. “That first game we had nine guys out,”O’Connell added.
The Terriers will be off until Sunday, where they will take on the No. 17 ranked Providence Friars for the first time this season for an afternoon showdown at 3:00pm at Agganis Arena.
Coverage for that game can be found on the blog and also on Instagram @boston.hockey.blog and on Twitter @BOShockeyblog. Big points are on the line as the Terriers currently sit just two points ahead of Providence in Hockey East standings.