The Boston University men’s hockey team (14-6-0, 9-4-0 Hockey East) came out on fire to defeat the UMass Amherst Minutemen (9-9-3, 3-7-1 HE) 6-2 in their first home game of the 2023 season.
Thanks to an explosive opening period, the Terriers dominated the Minutemen in a complete 180 from their first frame against Michigan Tech (14-6-3, 7-4-3 CCHA) last weekend.
While UMass skated out hard with a chip on their shoulder following their 4-2 loss to Northeastern (9-9-3, 7-4-2 HE) at Frozen Fenway, the Terriers’ skill surpassed the aggressive and physical play of their opponents. With talent on every line, the Terriers caught up to UMass’ style of play within minutes, instead of within two periods.
“Our guys, you know, they take ownership of it as a group. It’s a credit to our leadership,” Head Coach Jay Pandolfo said of the team’s loss in Arizona. “Our guys came out ready to play tonight and I thought for the most part, you know, we dominated that game.”
The reuniting of BU’s kid line of freshmen Jeremy Wilmer, Ryan Greene and Quinn Hutson gave the Terriers their first early chance of the game, but the score remained zero-all through the first nine minutes. 29 seconds later though, freshman Devin Kaplan cleared the puck from the wall to center ice. Linemate Wilmer Skoog then danced around UMass’ Eric Faith at the top of the net to open the floodgates for BU at 9:29.
Three minutes later, BU doubled their lead. Assistant captain Jay O’Brien’s shot from the point flew through traffic, and Luke Tuch was planted in front of the net for the tip-in. The fourth goal of the junior’s season continued to propel the Terriers forward while UMass’ systems started to collapse, with sophomore Taylor Makar skating to the penalty box on a cross-checking call.
While the power play opportunity saw no reward for the Terriers, the momentum carried and Q. Hutson added a third tally for BU immediately after the penalty came to a close. UMass –– who seemed to be having trouble staying on two feet for most of the game –– let up another goal when Q. Hutson skated around a defenseman and carried the puck stick-side for his third goal and fifth point against UMass.
“They’re young players. They’re growing their games in all areas,” Pandolfo said of his freshmen. “They want to get better. They want to be good teammates. They want to become better hockey players and it’s helping our group.”
58 seconds after the third goal, junior Nick Zabaneh scored the Terriers’ fourth in just eight minutes, bringing the puck to the top of the crease and in. Despite a review to make sure the puck passed the goal line, the call on the ice stood and the Terriers closed the first period on top with a four goal cushion.
This would be the Terriers’ second time scoring four in a period this season, with the second most recent occurrence happening on Nov. 11, against the same opponent.
After an eventful first period, the teams continued to play a little bit chaotically but with fewer goals to show for it. BU took their first penalty of the game when freshman Lane Hutson was called for interference, but the Terriers were able to hold off the best power-play unit in the NCAA for the two minutes.
While UMass didn’t score on the power play, they took some extra energy away from the man-advantage. Sophomore defender Scott Morrow sent the puck across the crease to forward Matt Koopman. Drew Commesso, who thought Morrow’s pass was a shot, had already dived to cover the puck, leaving the net wide open for Koopman to light the lamp at 13:31.
Despite giving up the goal, the Terriers kept their momentum up through the remainder of the period. Skoog’s pass from down low connected with Kaplan from the top of the net for a tap-in goal and a 5-1 lead for BU.
“That line was heavy on the puck, Kaplan and Skoog are big guys. They protected the puck very well. Matt Brown is really quick. He’s tough to contain,” Pandolfo said. “They worked off each other very well. They had a great game and they were dominant at times tonight.”
After Kaplan’s goal, UMass head coach Greg Carvel relieved his goalie and switched Pavicich out for junior Henry Graham. Graham stopped 25 shots he faced, but the Terriers continued to steamroll a hurting UMass squad –– this was the third time Carvel was forced to pull his starting goaltender against BU this season.
BU’s top line picked up more points with 8:55 remaining on the clock for a five goal lead. Skoog took back his favorite spot on the ice against UMass –– puck on his stick behind the opposing goalie’s net –– but opted out of a lacrosse goal for a pass to Kaplan, who struck it home for his second tally of the night.
“I think the line today with me, Brown, and Kaplan compliments each other… I think he’s done a really good job to adjust to college hockey,” Skoog said of Kaplan. “It was fun tonight, and I’m looking forward to the future games too.”
The Terriers showed their composure for 55 minutes of play taking just one penalty until both Cade Webber and Makar skated to their respective locker rooms. Both received five minutes and a game misconduct, Webber for hitting-from-behind and Makar for spearing.
After those matching penalties, Skoog went to the box for roughing at 17:15. 23 seconds later, he was joined by sophomore Ty Gallagher who earned a roughing penalty alongside UMass freshman Tyson Dyck.
Despite the collapse of discipline in the last five minutes of play, the Terriers’ on-time start made all the difference. Dominant play from the top line carried BU, earning them their third five+ goal victory and a season sweep over the recent national champions.
The Terriers will have a few days off before heading back to work to take on Red Hot Rival Cornell on Saturday at Agganis Arena for the first time. Puck drop is set for 4:00pm, with coverage available on Twitter @BOShockeyblog and Instagram @boston.hockey.blog.