By Mark Fraenkel
Powered by two goals from freshman defenseman Lane Hutson, the Boston University men’s hockey team (8-4-0, 5-3-0 Hockey East) defeated the Notre Dame Fighting Irish (6-7-2, 4-3-1 BIG 10) 5-2 on Wednesday evening at Agganis Arena.
“That’s a big win for us going into the Thanksgiving break here,” BU head coach Jay Pandolfo said in the postgame press conference. “Overall, I’m happy with the effort because our guys competed hard. We just got away from playing our game a little bit in pockets of that game.”
After losing four out of six points to the Northeastern Huskies (7-4-3, 6-4-2 Hockey East) last weekend, the Terriers beat the Fighting Irish in their first matchup since the 2016-2017 season when Notre Dame left the Hockey East conference.
The pre-Thanksgiving matchup featured the two teams with the nation’s most challenging strength of schedule. BU has the toughest schedule according to KRACH.
After a mostly even first half to the first period, freshman defenseman Lane Hutson entered the offensive zone with the puck and passed to senior forward Matt Brown. Brown pushed the puck back towards Hutson in front of the net who tipped the puck past senior goaltender Ryan Bischel. The goal from the Canadiens prospect gave BU a 1-0 lead with over ten minutes to play in the first period.
“Matt made a great play to me as I was coming up ice you know,” the freshman sensation said in the postgame press conference. “I beat the first forechecker and then I grabbed the middle of the ice and Brownie was there and I knew [once I got it to Brownie], It was a pretty good chance to get it back and it ended up going in,” he added.
Notre Dame’s sophomore defenseman Jake Boltman was called for holding with just under 10 minutes to play in the first period. On the power play, his teammate freshman defenseman Michael Mastrodomenico was sent to the box for slashing. The Terriers were unable to convert on the 5-on-3 opportunity.
After senior defenseman Domenick Fensore missed the net wide, sophomore forward Justin Janicke passed to graduate defenseman Ben Brinkman who lifted the puck past junior goaltender Drew Commesso. The Edina, Minnesota native’s goal tied the game with 3:37 left in the first frame.
With 3:08 remaining in the first period, Notre Dame could not score on a power play from a Quinn Hutson slashing penalty.
The 1-1 score would hold going into the first intermission where Notre Dame led BU in shots on goal by a margin of 10-9.
Less than two minutes into the second period, Notre Dame’s graduate defenseman Nick Leivermann was sent to the box for slashing. The Fighting Irish were able to kill off the power play.
With 12:08 left in the second period, Fensore shot the puck into the net from far to Bichel’s right side. The Hurricane’s prospect was assisted on the goal by sophomore defenseman Ty Gallagher and junior forward Luke Tuch, and was his second goal in as many games of recent.
After the Notre Dame power play from Devin Kaplan’s slash came to a close, the Irish saw another great opportunity in front of the net, but a phenomenal defensive play by junior defenseman Cade Webber kept the visitors from getting their second goal.
With just over three minutes left in the second period, Gallagher had an opportunity near the net but he was denied by Brinkman. Senior forward Jay O’Brien also saw two chances in front of the net, but Bischel stopped both shots.
With 1:16 left in the period, Commesso denied senior forward Jesse Lansdell. A scrum emerged in the crease leading to roughing penalties on both Fensore and Lansdell. The 4-on-4 play would extend into the third period, but not until after BU challenged for a major penalty. The call on the ice was confirmed and the Terriers lost their time out.
The message in the locker room was simple.
“It was just, you know, stick to the game plan,” Lane Hutson remembered. “You know, just play hard and play disciplined.”
With 10 seconds remaining on the four-on-four, Lane Hutson took the puck from behind the cage and shot it past Bischel. The North Barrington, Illinois native’s second goal of the game and sixth of the season gave BU a 3-1 lead.
With 15:24 left in regulation, Notre Dame responded. With Commesso out of position, junior forward Landon Slaggert blasted the puck into the back of the net. Slaggert’s first goal of the season cut the Notre Dame deficit to one.
Graduate forward Jackson Pierson was penalized for cross-checking with 12 minutes left in the game, and in the ensuing power play, freshman Jeremy Wilmer passed to O’Brien who then found Brown who slapped the puck into the net for his seventh goal of the season. The goal from the Wood Ridge, New Jersey native extended the Terriers’ lead back to 4-2.
About three minutes later, senior forward Sam Stevens found the back of the net on a tip from a Gallagher shot from Bischel’s left side. What looked like Gallagher’s first goal of the season was corrected and attributed to Stevens, but showed some of the extra push the sophomore has been demonstrating recently.
With 2:14 to play in regulation, Lansdell hit Fensore and Gallagher came to the defense of his captain. Lansdell and Fensore were sent to the box for off-setting penalties for cross-checking and roughing respectively, while Gallagher was also sent to the box for roughing.
Despite the power play, the 5-2 score would hold.
“We are getting better at playing the full 60,” Hutson said. “Tonight we started out good, and then had a stretch where we weren’t great, but just kind of playing hard the whole game.”
The Terriers return to action with an exhibition matchup against the US U-18 National Team on Saturday before a home-and-home against the University of New Hampshire Wildcats. Be sure to follow along on Twitter @BOShockeyblog and Instagram @boston.hockey.blog for continued coverage over the weekend.