By James Garrison
The Boston University men’s hockey team (18-6-0, 12-4-0 HE) collectively stepped up in the absence of their captain, Domenick Fensore, earning their first victory of the season against the rival Boston College Eagles (9-8-5, 5-5-4 HE).
Drew Commesso was there when he was needed, delivering multiple highlight-reel saves. The Terriers’ netminder made 24 saves overall, backstopping his way to his first win against the Eagles.
Cade Webber and Ty Gallagher stepped up big time in heightened defensive roles. The two combined for eight blocks, while Gallagher also figured in on the offense with two goals and two assists.
“That’s big shoes to fill with Dom being our captain,” Dylan Peterson said. “The guys stepping up was really impressive. Hopefully step up again tomorrow, which they will.”
Despite bouts of momentum on either side, neither team grabbed the reins of the rivalry contest. Nerves were apparent, as neither team wanted a mistake to go the other way. It would be the Eagles though, who struck first in the middle of the opening frame.
The Terriers were punished for their lone foul of the first period. Commesso’s initial acrobatic save wasn’t enough, as the Terriers penalty kill could not clear out the front of the net. Trevor Kuntar cashed in, and BU found themselves down midway through the first period.
A shot of electricity was injected into the Agganis crowd and heard all the way down Commonwealth Avenue as the first period expired. Jay O’Brien picked up the loose change in front of Mitch Benson to give the Terriers a massive lift. In lieu of their captain, the rest of BU’s leadership was there when they needed them the most.
“Obviously a huge momentum boost for us, scoring there with basically no time on the clock,” Head Coach Jay Pandolfo said. “The atmosphere was awesome. I think anytime you know, BU-BC, it’s a lot of fun and you saw the crowd come out tonight.”
Despite the momentum of the late O’Brien equalizer, it took a few minutes for the Terriers to find their game-breaking stride. Jeremy Wilmer dazzled, cutting into the slot and sniping one home. Wilmer has continued his second semester breakout, now with 10 points in his last seven games.
It was from this point where the Terriers took over the game for just a few minutes, finished off with another strong shift from the second line. This time it was Dylan Peterson, who snapped a 17-game goal drought with a big insurance marker at 12:32 of the middle frame.
“I’ve obviously struggled a bit offensively this year,” Peterson said. “Anytime you score it’s fun, but against those guys, it’s pretty special. I was really happy about that one.”
The Terriers’ second line was first to pucks in the offensive zone all night and was hungry in front of Benson, scoring two big net-front goals. The trio of Luke Tuch, O’Brien and Peterson combined for a total of nine points, having all battled through goal droughts this season, the three came together at the right time Friday night.
“They had a huge impact on the game tonight,” Pandolfo said. “[Peterson and Tuch] were getting to the net, they were hanging on to pucks down low… I just think overall, they read off each other really well. I thought it was the best game they played together.”
Although sometimes shaky in the first period, BU improved defensively as each period passed. The Terriers managed to find a consistent offensive rhythm, while limiting the Eagles to 15 shots in the final two periods.
Gallagher, a major figure in the defensive effort, was rewarded with two goals in the third period. The sophomore defenseman’s first of the night came off a great feed from Tuch during four-on-four action. Gallagher continued his offensive output with a wrister from the top of the circle.
“It’s definitely a huge confidence thing,” Gallagher said. “Just having confidence in the coaches, confidence from my team. Definitely helps me build and obviously led to more goals tonight. It was great to get that first one last week.”
Benson was put out of his misery midway through the third period. Henry Wilder, though, was not much help in relief. Tuch went post-and-in on Wilder, as the Terriers continued to pour it on in the third period.
The Eagles got one back as the result of an unsportsmanlike bench minor for BU, as Mike Posma tripped one past Commesso. On a night with more slim margins, the subpar officiating would be a much larger storyline.
The Terriers continued to let off the gas, giving way to an Eagles’ three-on-one, where they once again got on the board. Although the score was greatly out of reach, the Terriers did not close out the final minutes with their best habits.
The Terriers did not look the most confident in the first period, but neither did the Eagles. The fourth ranked team in the country eventually found their swagger, delivering one of their most complete games of the season.
BU will once again be without their captain tomorrow night, as the rivalry heads out of Boston and into Chestnut Hill. Now in control of first place in Hockey East, the Terriers will look for their first series sweep of the Eagles since 2016-17, with puck drop set for 7:00pm.
“When we’re playing like ourselves, there’s no team in the country that can play with us,” Gallagher said. “I think that showed tonight and it showed in many games this season.”