The Boston University men’s hockey team (10-4-0, 7-3-0 Hockey East) took out their brooms in the Saturday night matchup of a home-and-home series with the University of New Hampshire Wildcats (3-13-1, 0-11-1 HE). The Terriers dominated the game from puck drop and were rewarded with six points in a tight Hockey East conference.
“We needed to get six points, and we accomplished that,” Head Coach Jay Pandolfo said after the win. “The effort from our team was excellent.”
Junior goaltender Drew Commesso was out for the second game of the weekend with an illness as noted by Pandolfo during his midweek media availability. Junior Vinny Duplessis took the crease with ease however, making 22 saves throughout the contest for the victory shutout –– the fourth of his career.
Despite their less than impressive season record, the Wildcats picked pucks off sticks, blocked shots and squandered many of BU’s best chances through the first period.
“It’s always a battle,” Duplessis said about being called up to play. “I always want to do the best for my team and stand up for the guys in front of me.”
Though the first ended with a 0-0 score, the Terriers were producing high quality chances during the opening frame, showing composure and growth in the discipline department as well. UNH took the first penalty of the game when sophomore forward Conor Lovett’s cross-check sent his team down a player for two minutes.
While the Terriers were unable to convert, senior captain Domenick Fensore continued to show his skill on the ice with an impressive rebound attempt that was ultimately gloved down by Wildcat goalie David Fessenden.
The Terriers’ best opportunity came from a two-on-one rush led by fourth-liners Dylan Peterson and Sam Stevens, but the puck was broken up and the score remained zero-all. Senior forward Jay O’Brien took a roughing penalty in front of the crease, but the Terrier penalty kill pushed the game forward as the clock wound down on the opening frame.
Like the Friday night contest, both teams showed high compete levels with an extra edge in their skating. Sophomore forward Liam Devlin bodied Terrier assistant captain Case McCarthy into the Wildcat bench but there was no call on the ice, and sophomore blueliner Alex Gagne was sent to the box in the final 30 seconds of the first, giving BU a 90 second advantage to start the second. After 20, BU held onto a 15-5 shot advantage.
The second period started off with a Terrier power play that was still dominant, but had nothing to show. The earliest games of the BU season were riddled with penalties, and the second frame felt like the team traveled back in time to that caliber of play. Peterson was sent to the box for a, albeit questionable, hitting-from-behind penalty and Luke Tuch sat out two minutes for tripping, while UNH’s Devlin took a tripping call of his own.
“We probably took a couple that I’m not sure were definitely penalties,” Pandolfo said postgame. “We did a good job. Our penalty kill was excellent tonight.”
With just under two minutes to play in the second period, Fensore drew first blood. Freshman winger Jake Dunlap’s hooking penalty gave BU time to set up their power play, and it only took 62 seconds for the Terriers to capitalize. The captain’s goal was his fifth in four games –– he was BU’s best player on the ice.
Holding on to a 1-0 lead, the Terriers looked to add an assurance goal in the closing 20. While the Terriers stayed out of the penalty box for the most part, systems seemed less structured and play less fluid. Senior forward Wilmer Skoog got a good look at the beginning of the third, but his shot went wide.
Despite taking two penalties and having a relatively slow start to his senior season, O’Brien finally got rewarded with a power play goal at 16:37 of the third. Fensore dished the puck to O’Brien who held onto it for just long enough to skate around a Wildcat defenseman and net his second of the season from between the two circles, giving him two power play points on the night.
“We tweaked a couple of things,” O’Brien said when asked about his power play unit. “We made a few adjustments and started shooting the puck a bit more (…) it’s nice to get a couple of big goals for us.”
Less than a minute after the O’Brien goal, freshman Quinn Hutson capped off the weekend sweep with an empty-net goal for a 3-0 shutout win. The freshman’s fifth goal of the season concluded the 2022 season at Agganis, as the Terriers hit the road for their final games of the year.
The Terriers earned six gritty points across the weekend, and will next head up the B-line to Newton for a game with the Boston College Eagles. In the first matchup in over 50 years without Jack Parker or Jerry York behind the bench, the Terriers will look to pick up another three points in the Battle of Comm Ave. in the new era of Boston (Newton) Hockey.
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