Ethan Phillips proved to be difference-maker against WMU

Photo by Caroline Fernandez

Ethan Phillips’ empty-net goal meant a whole lot more than an end-of-game extra insurance point for Boston University. The senior forward stepped up in a big way for the entire 60 minutes and strung together his best performance of the season –– and what a time to do it.

While Wilmer Skoog returned from suspension for the regional semifinals, Phillips remained the right-winger on the first line with Jay O’Brien and Matt Brown. In accordance with the next-man-up mentality that head coach Jay Pandolfo has preached all year, Phillips shined in all three zones as his team continued to skate shorthanded. 

There’s no doubt that BU’s stars showed up yesterday –– the Hutson’s made their mark, Drew Commesso was dialed-in, Matt Brown had a bar-down beauty –– but it was efforts like Phillips’ that elevated the Terriers’ game as a whole. 

Lane Hutson’s first goal of the tournament does not happen without the extra hustle from Phillips in the corner. Winning 50/50 puck battles had been a point of emphasis coming out of the Hockey East playoffs, and Philly was hunting for them against Western Michigan. He got to work down low and coughed the puck up to OB who then slid it to Lane for the lead. 

Similarly, Phillips’ patience –– and new heightened confidence –– in the o-zone set Brown up perfectly for BU’s third goal that shifted the complexion of the contest. Drawing four Broncos to the left side, Phillips swung around and found Brown in the slot with a textbook tape-to-tape connection. 

Philly was a difference-maker out there, and ended the game with three points (one goal, two assists) after not having logged one since Dec. 9.

The Detroit Red Wings’ prospect has battled with injury not only this season, but his entire collegiate career. Out for nearly two months with a lower body injury this year, Phillips had the challenge of re-discovering consistency and productivity in his play when he returned in February. That’s not easy.

However, it seems Phillips has bought into his role that has evidently evolved since his freshman year. It’s all hands on deck with this season’s Terriers and the past acceptance of individual play was thrown out the window the second Pandolfo walked in. Philly, a top-six forward, was a big part of BU’s defensive success against one of the highest-scoring offenses in the country.

He was buzzing on the forecheck and backcheck, clogging up the neutral zone and putting his stick or body in front of every shooting or passing lane he could find. There was a different level of desperation in his game, and the Terriers’ were better for it. 

For the past couple of weeks, the winger has simply been in the lineup. He hasn’t been bad by any means, but perhaps a bit passive. Ethan Phillips made you notice him last night. He’s part of that senior class that came back for a reason –– this reason –– and he’s making the most out of his final run in scarlet and white. 

Other Observations: 

  • The sixth-defenseman spot had been a big topic of conversation, and contention, throughout the season with four guys vying for the job. However, John Copeland earned the position and has handled the extra minutes well with Case McCarthy out. He’s not flashy, but he’s been getting the job done and shown tremendous growth since an inconsistent beginning of the year. 
  • Domenick Fensore is the heart and soul of this group. While playing hurt with a lower body injury, the senior captain still garnered the primary assist on Quinn Hutson’s goal, was blocking shots and was all over Western Michigan’s top lines. The man is on a mission.


  1. Great Story…..keep up the good work!

  2. I’ve been routing for E-Dog for all 4 years! Not surprised to see a great player elevate his game in a big game!

  3. can’t think of a more opportune time for EP to fund his groove, especially with NZ on the shelf