The No. 4 Boston University men’s hockey team (19-6-0, 13-4-0 Hockey East) stormed the Green Line and headed over to Newton, Massachusetts for the second of a home-and-home with the Boston College Eagles (9-9-5, 5-6-4 HE). For the first time since 2017, the Terriers came out on top at Conte Forum with a final score of 3-1 thanks to a stellar performance from junior goaltender Drew Commesso.
“Can’t say enough of how Drew Commesso played this weekend,” head coach Jay Pandolfo said after the win. “He was outstanding. Unreal in the third period.”
The Eagles, clearly looking for revenge, came out hot, just like they did last night. The hostile atmosphere in Conte Forum took some getting used to for BU, but the Terrier offense did what it does best and created plenty of opportunities early on, backed by a locked-in Commesso, who finally beat his down-the-street rivals.
“Yeah, it feels awesome. Growing up a BU fan my whole life, I’ve never really liked the Eagles,” Commesso said postgame. He mentioned the “embarrassing loss” in December, and noted how it fueled the Terriers towards this weekend’s sweep.
Within the first four minutes play turned chippy with a massive hit sending freshman Jeremy Wilmer into the boards. Linemate Quinn Hutson was quick to jump to Wilmer’s defense, but instead was sent to the box on a matching roughing penalty with BC’s junior defenseman Eamon Powell. Grad forward Cam Burke joined E. Powell in the box for the initial boarding call, giving the Terriers a man-advantage early in the game.
Senior forward Jay O’Brien had three beautiful chances from the left circle, but graduate goalie Mitch Benson was solid in net, gloving down the Terriers’ best opportunities. O’Brien has been having one of his best weekends of the season, playing alongside juniors Dylan Peterson and Luke Tuch.
The Eagles almost got a shorthanded tally to open up the scoring when senior Liam Izyk skated in on a breakaway, but Commesso can thank the post for keeping the score knotted at zero. Commesso did make some stellar saves early on though, when Oskar Jellvik made a late pass to Trevor Kuntar on a two-on-one. Commesso made two saves, sending the puck over the net and out of play.
Back for the second period, it took less than 90 seconds for Wilmer Skoog to put some momentum on the Terrier bench. The top line made up for an underwhelming night last night (by underwhelming I mean fewer than four points) with the kind of seamless passing they’ve demonstrated all year.
A defensive poke by Cade Webber made its way to Matt Brown who skated through the neutral zone with a three-on-two developing. Brown sent the puck to Devin Kaplan on his right side, and Kap held onto it for enough time to send Benson to the corner. The last second cross-ice slide by Kaplan landed perfectly on Skoog’s stick and into a wide-open net for the 1-0 lead.
Halfway through the middle frame the Terriers doubled their lead thanks to some great cycling and an Eagles squad that gave BU plenty of room to set up. Lane Hutson’s pass traveled between two defensemen and over to senior Case McCarthy, who blasted one home from the point for a 2-0 lead.
Both teams struggled to stay disciplined in the second, but not for fighting this time. Freshman Charles Leddy took the first penalty of the second for tripping, but BU’s five-on-four lasted just four seconds before Kaplan took one of his own for unsportsmanlike conduct. A little over a minute later, Nikita Nesterenko joined Leddy in the box for slashing, giving BU a five-on-three for 55 seconds.
Despite having two extra men on the ice, the Terriers were unable to convert, and instead, set up BC with a five-on-three of their own. Webber was penalized for holding a stick and Lane Hutson joined him 33 seconds later for hooking– both very questionable calls.
“It’s something we’re gonna have to address again,” Pandolfo noted of his team’s discipline. “I thought we’ve been better with our discipline. It got the best of us certainly, tonight.”
Regardless, BC took advantage of the extra two skaters when Nesterenko took inspiration from Kaplan for a cross-crease pass that Commesso couldn’t have saved. Freshman forward Andre Gasseau was open to send it home for his group on the power play and cut the deficit to one.
With 20 minutes to play, Kaplan sank back to his old ways, earning a roughing call and putting his team back at a disadvantage. Commesso played an incredible game, stepping up for his team in a huge way. A true brick wall for his group tonight, Commesso made 40 saves, including several power-play chances, and was named the third star of the game.
“I think he took ownership of not feeling good, that last game against Maine,” Pandolfo noted of his netminder. “He was determined to come back and have a great weekend… he was certainly ready.”
The Terriers then had a chance to add to their lead when Kuntar went off for hooking, but as they’ve done all night, BU didn’t want their box to sit open, and Ryan Greene matched Kuntar with an interference call 12 seconds later. Theoretically even strength, BC dominated the four-on-four and the following several minutes of five-on-five play, in what looked like an Eagle power play.
Despite holding onto very limited o-zone time, the kid line lit the lamp to put BU back up by two. Jeremy Wilmer scored his second goal of the weekend in a bizarre fashion– Q. Hutson’s shot from the circle got knocked in mid-air by Wilmer for the 3-1 lead. BC might have baseball, but tonight, so does BU.
O’Brien then decided that it was his turn to test out the penalty box when a tripping call sent him out with six minutes on the clock. Kuntar, who broke two sticks in a minute, almost brought his team back within one but the post and Webber quieted the Eagles’ very promising opportunities. Webber made both a mask-save and a knee-save, and if Commesso didn’t play as well as he did, probably would’ve earned him the player of the game jacket.
“Cade had such a big weekend,” Commesso said of his defender. “I think he probably had half as many saves as I did this weekend.”
With time winding down and an empty net in the Eagles’ defensive zone, Commesso continued to carry his group through the final minutes of play. Even without an empty-netter to seal the deal, the depth of this Terrier team kept the Eagles from climbing back into the game, and the clock hit zero with 3-1 on the scoreboard, painting Comm Ave scarlet for the second night in a row.
The Terriers will next face Maine in Orono for the final match between the two this season. Despite last weekend’s sweep of the Black Bears, the Alfond faithful will force a tight game and look for revenge against a Terrier team that keeps getting hotter. We’ll have full coverage of the weekend on Twitter @BosHockeyBlog and Instagram @Boston.Hockey.Blog, with puck drop scheduled for 7:00 pm.