By James Garrison
The Boston University Men’s Hockey Team (15-6-0, 9-2-0 HE) showed their flare for the dramatic once again, defeating the Cornell Big Red (10-6-1, 7-3-0 ECAC) with a last second goal from Lane Hutson.
The Terriers would not have been able to produce such a memorable moment had it not been for the play of Drew Commesso. Commesso stopped 28 of 31 shots, holding down the fort during Cornell’s more dominant stretches.
“We struggled there for a bit, they’re a heavy team and they were getting to our net,” Head Coach Jay Pandolfo said following the victory. “Drew did a great job, he did a really good job of holding us in it there for a bit.”
The Big Red grinded out the Terriers with their workman-like style in the first period. Cornell’s tenacity around Commesso’s crease and heavy play below the goal line frustrated the Terriers and eventually led to the period’s lone tally.
Big Red captain Sam Malinski pinched down below the goal line, protected the puck all the way out the other side, where his net front dish was stuffed home by senior Ben Berard at the side of the net.
“They were a big, strong team,” Commesso said. “Before the game we knew that was their game plan and I think our D did a great job of [moving them out].”
Luck and the stellar play of Commesso were on the Terriers’ side in the beginning of the second, as the Terriers avoided falling behind by either two or three goals. Now out of the woods, the Terriers took charge.
With stars like Domenick Fensore and Lane Hutson rendered less impactful in the first period by the physical nature of the game, the door was opened for a player for Sam Stevens to make a big impact.
Stevens found the equalizer, providing the necessary traffic and deflecting the puck past Big Red netminder Ian Shane. McCarthy’s point shot helped bring the contest back to even at 5:41 of the second period and rewarded the senior blueliner for his recent resurgent play.
“I’ve really liked [McCarthy’s] game since we’ve been back from break,” Pandolfo said.
After BU squandered a golden opportunity with an all-too passive five on three, Cornell took advantage and recaptured the lead. The Terriers got lost in coverage, leaving junior Gabriel Seger wide open back door. For as sharp as Commesso was Saturday evening, even he had no chance on Cornell’s second of the night.
Even though the Terriers were given little room, especially in the middle of the ice, the moments when they were able to generate speed were their most dominant. Late in the second period, Lane Hutson wheeled up ice and drew a hooking call just as he had broken away from the Cornell defender.
While the hook on Hutson had all the makings of a penalty shot, BU would only be awarded yet another power play – their fourth of the night. The Terriers opportunity became only more golden when Cornell’s faceoff violation gave BU yet another five-on-three chance, this time for 1:38.
The Terriers man-advantage, which numbered three in the second period, lacked a great deal of urgency. BU passed up a multitude of shots in search of the perfect play, while failing to find the target on the shots they elected to take.
“Our power play obviously wasn’t great there in the second period,” Pandolfo said. “Two five-on-threes, not getting anything out of it.”
Ironically enough, the Terriers were able to find the perfect play in the dying seconds of the second period. Ryan Greene connected with Jeremy Wilmer for a beautiful net front feed with just 9.7 seconds remaining in the middle frame.
In a back and forth third period, it would be the Big Red who struck first, grabbing their third lead of the game. Malinski’s blast made its way through Commesso at 8:20 of the third period for a Cornell power play marker, ending the Terriers’ penalty kill streak at 14.
The Terriers power play returned in the third period with the shot-first penalty it was solely lacking in the second period. Fensore delivered in another clutch moment, firing a wrister home from the left circle off a slick feed from Matt Brown with just over eight minutes to go.
“I didn’t think we had enough of a shot mentality [in the first and second period],” Pandolfo said. “We decided to put Brown and O’Brien both coming downhill like they did last year… I thought that last power play was very good. We got more shots to the net, we recovered pucks.”
After finally breaking through on the power play, the two sides appeared poised for overtime after a tightly contested 60 minutes. Hutson though, had other ideas, vanquishing the Big Red with just 3.8 seconds left in regulation for yet another game-winning goal.
Once again, the Terriers showed their resolve in a game where they fell behind on three separate occasions. Terrier teams of prior years, with weaker leadership from the top down may not have been able to muster up three separate responses, as well as the game-winning poise.
“If we’re going to go anywhere and go far, you have to be comfortable in those games,” Pandolfo said. “You’ve got to believe you’re never out of it, and I think that group in there believes that. As we keep going here in the stretch run, you’ve got to be in games like that.”