The world is right again.
Led by the buzzing junior forward Dylan Peterson, the Boston University men’s hockey team (21-10-0, 15-6-0 Hockey East) got their swagger back in a 5-3 victory over the University of Vermont Catamounts (9-17-5, 4-14-3 HE) tonight at Gutterson Fieldhouse.
“We needed that. We needed that bad,” Peterson said postgame. “We’re gonna start rolling here and it’s gonna be a lot of fun.”
The first line of Matt Brown, Wilmer Skoog and Devin Kaplan reunited while the rest of the lineup shuffled. Notably, senior forward Jay O’Brien shifted over to the right wing, with Ryan Greene filling in as center and Luke Tuch on the left. Head Coach Jay Pandolfo said he was looking for a spark, and that trio definitely brought it from puck drop.
“I thought he was really good on the wing,” Pandolfo said of O’Brien. “They had a ton of chances so hopefully it continues to go well for those three guys.”
The Terriers weren’t perfect in the first period, but they got their jump back –– and what a relief that was. Dylan Peterson put BU on the board 33 seconds in, tipping a point-shot from sophomore defenseman Ty Gallagher past UVM netminder Gabe Carriere. The early tally energized a Terrier squad that hadn’t held a first period lead in four games.
Senior forward Jamie Armstrong secured the second assist in his first return to the ice since Jan. 28 against Boston College. While listed as the extra forward, Armstrong slotted in with Peterson and junior forward Nick Zabaneh for much of the initial stanza.
“I thought he gave us a spark. First shift he was out there, did a great job in the o-zone,” Pandolfo said of Armstrong. “It’s what we’ve been working on.”
BU’s netfront presence was much improved, fueled by a previously lacking desperation for puck possession from the guys in scarlet. The Terriers battled down low and added their physical edge to create some solid zone time in the opening minutes, hemming the Catamounts in.
“Feels great to get back in the win column. I thought overall we played pretty well tonight,” Pandolfo said. “I thought we started playing the way we are capable of playing.”
Captain Domenick Fensore was throwing everything on net and Quinn Hutson appeared to gain some confidence back on the fourth line with Ethan Phillips and Sam Stevens. The freshman forward seemed to be overthinking his every move the past couple of weeks, but he played a much looser game to start the night. Good to see.
Vermont tied it up 1-1 at 13:12 after a faulty clearing attempt from Cade Webber. The puck bounced off the junior defenseman’s skate in the crease and landed on sophomore winger Andrei Buyalsky’s stick who backhanded it by Drew Commesso for his fourth of the season. The teams remained knotted at one after 20.
Maybe it was the Terrier Hockey Talk bump, or maybe it was just hard work and a good shot –– but either way, Tuch netted his first goal since Jan. 27 to put BU up 2-1 just over three minutes into the middle frame. Dished from the corner by OB, Tuch collected the rubber near the left slot and released a pretty snipe, reigniting his offensive game.
O’Brien was sent to the box for slashing directly after, but the Terriers’ PK stepped up and fended off some sneaky looks. However, the Catamounts found the equalizer 20 seconds after their man-advantage expired when the puck got caught in Phillips’ feet and turned over at the left faceoff circle. Graduate forward Finn Evans collected it and slapped one five-hole to make it 2-2 at 18:55.
One sloppy play cost BU the late lead. That’s no doubt one they want back, and the group came into the third period looking to make up for it.
“We just said to stick with it, keep playing our game, play smart,” Pandolfo said of the message going into the third. “If we do, we’ll get the result we want. Those guys stuck to it.”
A two-on-one rush from Brown and Kaplan put the Terriers back on top just 1:25 into the final frame. Kaplan snapped it home, garnering his ninth of the year, and a boost of confidence for his bench. Q. Hutson extended the gap from the right post less than two minutes later, tapping in a pass from Fensore. Boy did he need that. Making it 4-2, Q. Hutson finally shook off the rust.
The scarlet and white were clicking from there on out. It felt like a homecoming of the team we’ve all watched thrive for a majority of the 2022-2023 campaign. BU simplified their game, got back to the basics and grinded out a solid road win, despite giving up a third UVM goal at 11:03.
Peterson notched a well-deserved empty-netter –– and his second of the night –– to bring the competition to its final 5-3 score. The forward thrived alongside Zabaneh and unlocked another level to his game at just the right time. He was a force out there.
“I think the season just ebbs and flows so much, I struggled a lot in the first half. I just worked hard. I was in the gym a lot, doing my own thing and it finally started to come,” Peterson said. “We were so simple out there, just made it impossible for them to keep up with us.
BU looked like themselves again –– they fought the mental battle and breathed believability into the bench. The Terriers will aim to carry that momentum into tomorrow’s 7:30pm matchup at Gutterson. The Boston Hockey Blog will have full, on-the-ground coverage of the game so be sure to follow along on Twitter @BOShockeyblog and Instagram @boston.hockey.blog.