Game Recaps

Fairytale cut short: Men’s Hockey eliminated in quarterfinals

The Boston University men’s hockey team (19-13-3, 13-9-3 Hockey East) closed out their season this evening in Hartford after falling 3-1 to the University of Connecticut Huskies (19-15-0, 15-10-0 HE) in the Hockey East single elimination quarterfinal game. 

For the second season in a row, the Terriers have had a quick exit from the tournament, losing to UMass Lowell in the 2020-2021 quarterfinal as well. There’s an extra sting to this year’s loss though, considering the glimpse of greatness we all got to witness the last three months.  

“It was a tight hockey game,” Head Coach Albie O’Connell said in the post game press conference. “A playoff hockey game –– you could call it football on ice for great stretches of the game, there was a lot of tackling both ways out there.”

BU’s play was almost unrecognizable tonight compared to recent performances –– the group lacked spunk, heart and a clear desire to win throughout the 60 minutes. UConn made up for what the Terriers couldn’t do in all aspects of their game. 

The Huskies simply wanted it more. Skating after their first Hockey East playoff win and first trip to the semifinals, UConn was jumping right from puck drop in the first period. They had nine shots in the first five minutes, forcing sophomore netminder Drew Commesso to put his team on his back in the opening 20. 

Shifting to a more defense-focussed style of play in the first period, BU created little opportunity for themselves in the offensive zone while the Huskies dominated on the other end. Freshman forward Chase Bradley and sophomore forward Nick Capone led with their physicality, setting the tone for their squad. 

UConn, somewhat expectedly, got on the board first at 16:00 –– you could just feel it coming from the pressure they were putting on a disorganized BU lineup. Junior forward Vladislav Firstov parked himself netfront and tipped the puck in to give his team the 1-0 advantage. 

The Terriers couldn’t find the equalizer and junior forward Sam Stevens got called for a faceoff violation with 16 seconds left in the opening frame, giving UConn 1:44 on the man-advantage to start the second period. 

“They had a way better start than we did ––they got the lead and we kind of dug ourselves a hole,” O’Connell said. “On balance, it’s a frustrating way to go when you don’t get off to a good start.” 

BU managed to kill off the penalty but had some holes in their zone entry and defensive coverage; a little sloppy with the offsides and icings. Junior defenseman Alex Vlasic, who was back in the lineup after missing the Maine series, got some momentum going for the Terriers with a few heavy shots from the point, testing a sturdy graduate student goaltender in Darion Hanson. 

It was thrown right back at the Terriers at 10:26 when senior forward Jonny Evans collected the rebound of senior defenseman Ryan Wheeler’s shot on the doorstep and tucked it behind Commesso’s left pad for the 2-0 lead. Evans’ first goal in eight games was a big turning point for his squad. 

Just over a minute later, Commesso got caught up high with a mid-zone slapshot from sophomore forward Hudson Schandor after an offsides call. The goalie was down on the ice for a couple minutes, but returned to the crease for the rest of the game, finishing the night with 33 stops.

“He was poised,” O’Connell said of Commesso. “He was really square to the puck for the most part, he dropped a couple, but he was pretty sticking through the night.”

Missing on the bench in the second period was sophomore forward Luke Tuch who usually skates with linemates Jay O’Brien and Ethan Phillips. It’s unclear what prompted his absence.  

Freshman forward Brian Carrabes came close to getting BU on the scoresheet towards the end of the period, but Hanson was able to follow the puck back to the left side. By the end of 40 minutes, UConn was still showing more fight in their play. 

The Terriers needed to come out with a desperate third period and they didn’t. Looking to light the lamp and a fire in their stomachs, BU still struggled to string together consecutive solid chances as the Huskies shut it down with a strong backcheck. 

A 12:24 holding call on junior defenseman Roman Kinal gave the scarlet and white a prime opening to get back in the game. In the must-score man-advantage, junior defenseman Domenick Fensore stepped up to the task with an absolute blast from just below the point to bring BU within one, making it 2-1.

The Terriers didn’t have enough gas in the tank to completely close the gap after pulling Commesso with under two minutes on the clock. In the last ten seconds, Bradley notched an empty-netter to secure UConn’s trip to T.D. Garden for the semifinals. 

The buzzer to end the third was paired with a terrible sinking feeling –– for the seniors, for the fans, for the fairytale story this season could’ve been. Following a 14-1-1 record, Beanpot championship and hope for a NCAA bid, the quarterfinal loss feels somewhat shocking for a team that looked beyond motivated to go all the way just a few weeks ago. 

As the season comes to an end in early March, there’s a close to zero percent chance that the Terriers will get a bid to the NCAA tournament. Despite their second half of the season run, it may have been too slow of a start and too poor of a finish for any consideration. But there were some great moments in between. 

The senior group, led by captain Logan Cockerill, flipped the narrative and brought true pride back to the lineup and fanbase. With the lows, there were high highs and it’s a shame we can’t see what else this team could’ve done. 

We’ll continue to have full coverage while the offseason proceeds and BU works to come back as their most competitive selves. Be sure to follow along on Twitter @BOShockeyblog and Instagram for further updates.


  1. Like coach said it’s a tough way to go but we lost to a good hockey team. It stings and will for a while but the kids played hard. I’m proud of this team and what they were able to accomplish. The injury bug first half hurt us quite a bit. Most might not agree but I believe our coaches did a great job of keeping the group together during this stretch and the run we went on second half was fabulous and exciting a beanpot championship back on comm Ave and some national attention recognition that bu is and will continue to be one of the best programs in the country is something they should be proud of. We fall short of national tournament by a little bit but the future is bright for this team. I’m counting the days till next year . Thank you all who contributed to this blog it’s been fun. Now hockey is just one baseball season away. Go bu

  2. It was an unfortunate but fitting end to the season in that we didn’t start well, found some rhythm in the middle, but ultimately didn’t do enough to reach our goals. Albie certainly doesn’t ooze fire and motivation but in a “win or go home” situation, it’s really on the players (and captains) to bring the energy and it was clear early that UConn simply wanted it more. I’m not sure if it’s a matter of our players putting on the sweater and thinking, “well, that’s half the battle done…we’re BU and we can pretty much just show up and our talent will take care of the rest” (certainly not something unique to this season’s team as it pops up from time to time with BU) but I can’t wrap my head around allowing yourself to lay an egg in a game like this.

    It was certainly a strange season for a team picked pre-season to achieve much greater things. The first semester was really poor with no identity, lots of “individual” play, and coaching adjustments that took too long to implement (e.g., splitting up 23 and 2). I know Pandolfo played a key role behind the scenes at the break and, along with getting healthier, we put together that incredible run. But we left ourselves with no wiggle room and losing 3 of the last 4 with home ice, a long-shot NCAA bid, and a Hockey East title on the line is a tough pill to swallow.

    It’s up to the AD, hockey ops, and the coaching staff to figure out what went wrong. One thing that didn’t help was the captain and alternates averaging a measly 0.29 points per game. Not necessarily for a lack of effort but a really puzzling lack of execution from our on-ice leadership.

    Thank goodness we won the Beanpot (though we didn’t show nearly the same focus and effort these past few weeks that we did on those two Mondays in February). And we beat BC at Agganis (a rare occurrence – and it really should have been twice), though you’d expect us to do that given this was arguably the worst BC team in 20 years. (The worst BC team in 20 seasons ended their season on the same day, at the same level we did. That’s beyond disappointing).

    Where does that leave us? Lots of lows. A big high. A great stretch. And a good amount or frustration.

    I suspect they’ll run back the same coaching setup for one more “prove it” season. And, make no mistake, next season MUST include home ice, a guaranteed at-large NCAA bid, and (I’d argue) an NCAA win.

    Last 4 seasons…

    1 Beanpot
    0 Hockey East Finals
    0-1 in the NCAAs

    I’ve heard our out of conference schedule will be much improved (which helps from a Pairwise standpoint) and hopefully Hockey East performs better out of conference in general (can’t be much worse than this season) which would also help RE: PWR. If we can hold on to the spine of Commesso, Fensore, and O’Brien/Brown/Skoog for another season + have the freshmen hit the ground running + pick up some needed defensive talent and experience in the transfer portal (most of the incoming class are forwards), we should have enough of a starting point. With that, it will be up to the coaches and captains to instill a culture with expectations (every game counts, 60-minute efforts, outwork the opponent, no excuses). We didn’t do nearly enough of that this season and either we want to be a consistent national power or we’re complacent and tolerate mediocrity. I certainly don’t do the latter.

    I’ll be at the Frozen Four watching teams we aspire to be. (We used to be one of those teams and we NEED to do everything we can this offseason to get back to that level.)

    Enjoy your summer and, go BU!

    (And kudos to the BHB staff for excellent coverage this season. I hope you too are rewarded with more success in the coming seasons.)


    • Terrific analysis Mike on the season as a whole and what we can look forward to next season. Unfortunately a disappointing end to an inspiring midseason turnaround by the Terriers which culminated in a Beanpot victory , top 20 nat’l ranking , and a quarterfinal HE playoff birth. The UCONN matchup was a bad one for us IMO. I attended the early season game at Agannis where the Huskies dominated the Terriers 5-1, and although BU subsequently beat UCONN twice down there they were very very tough low scoring games against a much bigger and physical opponent who really just pushed the Terriers around most of the time. Its tough to get to the net and convert chances under those conditions, ( i know from just playing as forward in a men’s league). 6 goals in 4 games against an opponent is not going to get it done, in fact its amazing they won twice against the ” Ice Bus”.
      However Mike i do agree that BU did not show the same fire and determination over the last several games that they showed during the winning streak that propelled the Terriers to the Beanpot championship. It seemed that after the emotional high of that victory, our first in the tourney in 7 years and this groups’sfirst significant trophy the club just couldn’t refocus either physically or emotionally to make a Hockey East or NCAA push. We knew it was always going to be difficult, also given our non conference struggles this year, win out or go home, and the commitment wasn’t there. Its on the players but also on the coaching staff especially when they started so meekly vs the ICE Bus last night. Against an opponent like this you have to get ahead early, if you have to chase they game it was always going to be a struggle.
      All in all though IMO a fairly successful season, ( i’m not as hard on them as you are Mike), and a step forward for the program. An almost 20 win season, finally a Beanpot victory after a long drought, a terrific mid season winning steak that brought the pro gram local and nat’l accolades. BTW Mike I think one of the best things about last night was BC also losing and their season ending too. At least i won’t have to watch them ( i already booked my ticket to the Garden next weekend) in the HE semifinals and final.

  3. I will start by saying this team had enough talent to finish first. Just like every year under this coach we finish far below where we should be. Given the amount of NHL players we have had the good fortune of having in the program it has slipped to the level of 5 th place team in HE.

    Take a look at how we have finished the last four seasons

    Record in March 5-8-1
    Playoffs 2-5

    Not sure how you can think things are getting better

  4. Ozzie since you mention our record and knock coach the first game of the year we lost players to injury and early in the season and for the first half we had no obrien, Phillips Brown, tuch if it were not for this coaching staff holding this team together we would not have had the second half we had.
    We keep hearing about how bad we were first half and blaming coach I’m here thankful he was behind the bench because his talents and top rate skills kept us afloat he did a terrific job and I have no problem in stating on this blog or to anyone who will listen to a guy who knows a little bit about BU hockey give him a extension.

    Terrier hockey fans have a lot to look forward too. We have some terrific players coming back the little I have seen and from those in the professional scouting field think highly of our incoming freshmen. We came up short of all our goals but we will finish in top 20 that’s impressive not our goal but not bad either.

    I liked how this team played for each other they are a great group of kids. I wish the seniors well. I will miss Max Kaufman the most. I only got to watch him one season which seems like such a injustice. He is a hard working kid who will make the most of his talents in hockey or in his chosen occupation. He is dedicated to his sport and to his team as a fan of this program I respect that and as I said will miss that void next year. I consider him a friend and look forward to following all his successes in life.

    Going into a BU hockey game in October or April I consider it the most important thing in the world and every win or loss is treated with exuberance or utter frustration but as a former athlete and someone who is tied into professional sports One needs to realize after the game is played you must step back evaluate the game in such we lost to a good team a game that could have went either way. Remember there first goal was a direct result of the puck hitting off ref . There second goal was a good goal but came seconds after there guy was in crease for about 5 seconds. Officiating was horrendous yesterday but that’s another story . My anylyisis is this team got better as the season progressed solid goaltending good defense and 3 solid lines. Obrien is a special player if we can get a gifted goal scorer with him look out. Phillips will be a beast next year kid was hurt most of season played thru it tough as nails. Mastrisimone will be even better then he was this year slog who knows what magic he will bring. Gallagher freshly 19yrs old will be even better then his awesome freshman season . I see Dom the kid who never gets respect vying for the Hobby Baker award and giving Webber the Rodney Dangerfild mantra. As you can see when I step back I see a lot to look forward too. Go BU 🐾

  5. Disappointing end. Another whimper

    I would be shocked if all the guys mike mentioned return. Commesso is probably gone and I do not think Vinny is a capable every game goalie. Always be grateful for the way he has filled in. And the guy coming in – Anton Castro – has pedestrian numbers

    I too am glad bc is out. I think NU with Levi will take the HE title

  6. Colin,

    If you think the team got better as the season went on.
    Please explain the last four games

  7. 15-4-1 I believe in last 20 in a league where teams 1-11 were evenly matched. A beanpot title that’s impressive hockey. The bc loss we did not play terrible we put 42 shots on a goalie who stole the game. The Maine game bad game no excuses but we played well and lost to a good u conn team. I know we improved the results show that and the past comments during there streak show that as yourself and others were quiet on the blog. I’m not happy with the season over but I believe in looking at the success of this team and look forward to next year as disappointed as I get I never loose focus on the fact these are kids and the games are supposed to be fun. I immensely enjoyed this team the parents ,coaches, athletic dept, rink personnel etc. last year I was watching on a six inch screen to me there was no hockey so this year was a blessing just because I could watch the team I love live. I went to almost every game home and away the 4 I missed I watched. I spoke to players coaches parents players during the season I was always encouraging because that’s what I believe a good fan should do. I say this because that’s what makes the year ok it’s seeing the kids improve I saw how they were discouraged first half and I saw them get healthy and win a beanpot. That’s improvement to me and that was fun. The problem with streaks and championships is they end and BU ended Saturday to a good team. I’m now looking to next year

  8. No question there were positive moments this season. The beanpot win was very satisfying

    It is just the way they cooled off at the end that troubles me. Same thing happened last year. At the end of the year you want to be trending up, not down

    Colin, given that you have connections to the players and their families, what are you hearing about guys leaving early? DC, O’B, vlasic etc

  9. That’s a decision left up to them and there families. I would never ask them that question. That said I have not heard of them saying they are leaving. I hope they come back all great players that’s for sure.

  10. The season ended after the first period in the second Maine game.

    Despite the encouraging run in semester 2, the song remains the same: lack of willingness to turn adversity into motivation.

    The program needs to get right with the fact that no amount of talent, early round draft picks, fancy throwback uniforms, or slick social media channels can ever compensate for the liability created by a cavalier attitude toward the pursuit of success.

    They wanted it easy. But the only thing that comes easy is failure.

    No excuses.

  11. So what would you recommend, Mark, to right the ship?

  12. Vlasic gone

  13. Time for a new coach.

    This has been the weakest HE has been in years. No teams in the top ten in the pairwise and we will see the lowest amount of teams selected to the NCAA tournament this weekend.

    That being said to finish 5th is a embarrassment.

    Time to fix things