By Mark Fraenkel
After senior captain Domenick Fensore’s overtime game-winning goal against the No. 10 Harvard Crimson (9-3-1, 7-1-0 ECAC) on Friday, Dec. 30, the No. 6 Boston University men’s hockey team (12-5-0, 8-4-0 Hockey East) is headed to the Grand Canyon State for a Friday evening game against the United States Air Force Academy Falcons (6-10-2, 2-7-1 AHA).
They’ll have a second matchup on Saturday against either Arizona State University Sun Devils (10-11-0 Independent) or the No. 16 Michigan Tech Huskies (12-6-3, 7-4-3 CCHA). Both games are part of the Desert Hockey Classic on the campus of Arizona State in Tempe.
Air Force enters the weekend after over one month off. The Falcons were scheduled to host the Canisius Golden Griffins (5-11-2, 3-5-2 AHA) last weekend, but the series was postponed due to weather-related travel issues. Head Coach Frank Serratore’s team last played on the weekend of Dec. 3 when they were swept by the College of the Holy Cross Crusaders (5-13-1, 4-7-1 AHA).
Air Force fell 4-1 in game one. Junior forward Will Gavin found the back of the net for the lone goal. The next day, sophomore forward Austin Schwartz scored a shorthanded goal midway through the second period in a 2-1 loss to the Crusaders.
“We played four and a half good periods this weekend, but their goalie was on fire,” Serratore said to GoAirForceFalcons.com after the Saturday game. “He was outstanding. Falling behind in games and chasing the scoreboard is losing hockey. We can turn this thing around. We need to get healthy physically and mentally over the break and come back ready to go.”
This weekend, both games will take place at Mullet Arena, a 5000-seat home to both Arizona State and the Arizona Coyotes of the National Hockey League. It’s been nearly 100 years since the last time an NHL team and a college team shared an area. Between 1924 and 1928, it was the Boston Bruins and BU that shared Boston Arena, now called Matthews Arena.
Depending on the results on Friday, the Terriers will either face ASU or Michigan Tech. A familiar face will be on the other side if they face the Sun Devils. Former BU-star senior forward Robert Mastrosimone will lace up the skates for the home team.
Last weekend, the East Islip, New York native recorded an assist in Arizona State’s Saturday night 2-1 win over the Boston College Eagles (7-6-4, 5-3-3 HE). ASU fell the night before to Greg Brown’s team by a score of 5-2.
BU’s other potential opponent, Michigan Tech, enters the Desert Hockey Classic after splitting their two games in the Great Lakes Invitational in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The Huskies fell 8-1 to the No. 13 Western Michigan Broncos (12-9-1, 4-5-1 NCHC) on Tuesday, Dec. 27 before defeating the No. 14 Michigan State Spartans (12-9-1, 6-5-1 BIG 10) the following day.
Junior defenseman Brett Thoner tied the game on a power play with 1:13 left in regulation. The goal would help him win CCHA Defenseman of the Week.
“The bounce back after last night is incredible,” Michigan Tech Head Coach Joe Shawhan told MichiganTechHuskies.com after the win over the Spartans. “Michigan State is a really good team and our leaders stepped up today.”
After the two-game set in the Copper State, the Terriers will return home to face the University of Massachusetts Minutemen (9-7-3, 3-6-1 HE) on Wednesday before hosting the No. 18 Cornell Big Red on Saturday (8-5-1, 5-3-0 ECAC).
The puck will drop at 5:30pm on Friday and Saturday’s game time is TBD. For full coverage of the weekend, be sure to follow along on Twitter @BOShockeyblog and Instagram @boston.hockey.blog.