The Boston University men’s hockey team (4-3-0, 2-2-0 Hockey East) took on the UMass Lowell River Hawks (5-3-0, 2-1-0 HE) tonight at Agganis Arena where they won 2-1 in a thrilling overtime showing.
“I know we have a resilient group so we find a way to bounce back,” head coach Jay Pandolfo said in the post-game press conference. “I thought we came out in the third and played the right way the whole period –– it took us a while but it ended up paying off.”
Junior goaltender Drew Commesso returned to the crease for the first time since the Oct. 14 matchup against the University of Michigan. Commesso started practicing with the team again this week after coming off of a hamstring injury and didn’t seem to miss a beat tonight. He made 29 saves and came in clutch for BU throughout the 60 plus minutes.
“Felt pretty good –– I was just grateful to be back out there,” Commesso said post-game. “Our athletic staff and the trainers did such a good job at getting me back on the ice, so I pretty much give all the credit to them.”
The kid line of freshmen forwards Jeremy Wilmer, Ryan Greene and Quinn Hutson were buzzing from puck drop and produced some of the Terriers’ best chances on the rush in the opening minutes. Now with the experience of facing a range of collegiate talent, the first-years have begun to settle into their roles and are skating with the level of confidence seen on opening night.
“I thought they had their best game overall; they were great in their own end, most of the night they played in the offensive zone,” Pandolfo said. “They were really good tonight, I thought they were our best line.”
While it was a scoreless first period, both squads emulated the intensity of Friday’s contest with an emphasis on physicality and high compete levels. Junior forward Luke Tuch laid down a couple hits, helping to set the tone for his group early on. Commesso looked sharp from the start, keeping the game knotted at 0-0 heading into the middle frame.
Captain and senior defenseman Domenick Fensore hit the crossbar to start the second period, while junior forward Dylan Peterson just missed a cross-crease pass from Wilmer as BU hunted for the first tally of the night. The Terriers had an opportunity on the man-advantage at 2:55 to open scoring, but no luck there either.
The competition remained tight throughout the second with little margin of error for each side. As the minutes dwindled down, the prospect of the first goal of the game began to carry much more weight. The scarlet and white had another chance on the power play at 16:46 but once again couldn’t find the back of the net.
The River Hawks claimed the late lead with 28 seconds remaining in the period. Sophomore forward Matt Crasa, stationed down low, knocked in the rebound of senior forward Brian Chambers’ initial shot to make it 1-0. Like last night, the Terriers entered the third down one and searched for the equalizer.
Senior forward Jay O’Brien came close to garnering his first goal of the season at 8:03 with a point blank shot from between the face-off dots. The look was gloved by Lowell netminder Gustavs Davis Grigals and the score remained 1-0 halfway through the closing frame.
“He’s obviously a little bit snake-bit right now, but he’s playing the right way,” Pandolfo said of O’Brien. “He’s playing a good 200 foot hockey game as a centerman and that’s what we ask of him –– it will find the back of the net for him.”
A holding-the-stick call sent senior defenseman Marek Korencik to the box at 14:27, presenting BU with their third man-advantage of the matchup and a prime time to tie it up late in the third. However, a tripping penalty on senior forward Ethan Phillips 36 seconds later cut the power play short and resulted in some 4-on-4 hockey.
The Terriers were battling all night –– as the third period crept to a close it felt like one had to drop for the home team. And that it did. While Lowell was called for a delayed slashing penalty at 17:51, freshman forward Lane Hutson swerved around a River Hawk at the blue line, carried the puck just above the circle and released a snipe that tied the game 1-1. The lamplighter was assisted by his older brother, freshman forward Quinn Hutson and former River Hawk Matt Brown.
“It’s pretty cool when you get a pass from your brother and end up putting it in the net,” L. Hutson said post-game. “It’s pretty special for me and pretty special for our family too.”
With the Terrier bench reignited, senior defenseman Case McCarthy sent a blast from the point into the back of the net with just over five seconds remaining in regulation. The goal was soon called back for goaltender interference. I’m throwing away all journalistic unbiased ethics here when I say that was one of the worst calls I’ve seen while covering BU hockey. Nonetheless, the teams regrouped and headed into 3-on-3 overtime.
L. Hutson strapped the hero cape on once again, netting his second goal of the night at 2:29 of the extra hockey to secure the 2-1 OT victory. Cutting to the crease on the left side to then flip to the back-hand and tuck the puck behind Grigals’ right pad, L. Hutson showcased his star talent. At 18-years-old, L. Hutson is quickly growing into a leader on the Terrier roster.
“It starts with our leaders, they’ve done a great job taking in the freshmen and leading the way for us and letting us do our thing,” he said.
BU’s resiliency and never-wavering effort earned them the extra point and a character-building win as they head into their bye week.
“Everyone in our room knows how good we can be and right now we’re not there –– we’re certainly going to use this week as a week to build,” Commesso said of the team’s break. “It’s definitely not going to be a week we take off.”
The Terriers will be back in action on Nov. 11 when they face UMass Amherst in another Hockey East weekend series. For continued coverage and updates on all things BU hockey make sure to follow BHB on Twitter @BOShockeyblog and Instagram @boston.hockey.blog.