Game Recaps

Terriers are Tampa bound, take down Big Red 2-1

Photo by Caroline Fernandez

The Terriers showed what they’re made of tonight and battled until the final horn for the 2-1 win over Cornell University (21-11-2) that punched their ticket to Tampa. The Boston University men’s hockey team (29-10-0) is in the Frozen Four, and boy are they feeling good. 

“I’m just really proud of this group. All year long, they’ve been a resilient group. They’ve come together, especially in the last month,” head coach Jay Pandolfo said postgame. “One of our goals was to get to the Frozen Four and we accomplished that today, so really proud of them.” 

BU put together one of its strongest defensive performances of the year against a meaty Cornell team, holding them to 14 shots through 60 minutes. Their opponent’s size never intimated the Terrier roster. Junior forward Dylan Peterson leaned into his physical game from puck drop, and his team followed suit, meeting the towering Big Red for the challenge. 

Forward Ethan Phillips shined once again, scoring what turned out to be the game-winning-goal, while continuing to step up on the first line. The senior elevated his play at just the right time, and has showcased the Terriers’ depth in the national tournament. 

“I got a lot of confidence from my teammates and coaches, had their support the whole time coming back from injury,” Phillips said postgame. “You know, just playing with great players.” 

Pandolfo pointed to Phillips’ turnaround effort and buy-in in the latter half of the season. 

“Going into the Hockey East playoffs, he was our 13th forward at that time. For him to stick with it, and the way he played this weekend –– he was a big reason why we won both these games,” Pandolfo said. “It’s a credit to him. He’s a great teammate.” 

In the opening frame, Cornell was pushing a lot of rubber down low in the o-zone, forcing Drew Commesso out of his net at times to play the puck. The junior goaltender handled it well, though, and played a detailed-oriented, mentally tough game. He’s been rolling this month, but gave most of the credit to his teammates. 

“Our D played great all weekend, not just tonight,” Commesso said. “They let me see the puck, they did their job, and really the forwards too. They blocked so many shots.” 

BU’s momentum built throughout the first, and it seemed Lane Hutson was on the ice for the entire 20 minutes. Cornell was attempting to smother him –– and did so at times –– but the freshman defenseman found his slots, and was pesty on the backend. He was doing Lane Hutson things, you could say. 

The extra effort on the forecheck and backcheck made all the difference tonight. The fourth line of Sam Stevens, Jamie Armstrong and Devin Kaplan hunted for every loose puck in the offensive zone, while captain Domenick Fensore and junior defenseman Cade Webber were particularly good at shutting down the Big Red’s transition with sneaky stick-checks and speed. 

“Our whole d-core, especially not having Case McCarthy –– the way John Copeland stepped up, Cade Webber every night, he’s one of our best defensive players,” Pandolfo said. “I mean the kid eats pucks.”

Freshman forward Jeremy Wilmer got to work tonight, and was reunited with Skoog as the senior was center on the third line. Wilmer used his smaller size to his advantage, whistling around the zone, and collected the primary assist on Skoog’s second period tally, 2:13 into the stanza. 

Peterson pushed the Big Red around in the corner, popping the loose puck out to Wilmer who, stationed near the right post, dropped it to Skoog in the slot for his second goal of the tournament to put the Terriers up 1-0. Netting the first of the night was huge for the scarlet and white. 

“I think we had some chemistry at the beginning of the year and it was good to get back with him,” Wilmer said of Skoog. (Haha). “I just saw Petey going hard on the walls so I knew I could try to swoop in and grab the puck. Skoogy just put himself in a great spot, so I just looked for him and he made no mistake like he usually does.” 

Wilmer, amongst the rest of his teammates in the freshman class, have earned their stripes these past few weekends and skated with the maturity of vets. 

To close out the second, a Quinn Hutson breakaway chance rang off the pipe and there was some big pressure from the Big Red. However, BU protected its advantage and headed into the final 20 of regulation up 1-0 with a trip to Tampa just in reach. 

“I thought our guys did a heck of a job. I thought we broke pucks out really well,” Pandolfo said. “Our guys did a heck of a job of keeping them to the outside. Obviously they got that one late, but overall, what an effort from our guys.” 

Phillips doubled the Terriers’ margin at 7:24 in the third on the rush. Senior forward Matt Brown chipped him the puck up the middle, and while Philly’s initial snipe was stopped, he didn’t give up on the play and buried the rebound past goaltender Ian Shane’s left pad. The upperclassmen came back for moments just like these. 

“It’s extremely special. When you come in as a freshman you have goals and things you want to achieve as a team. Each year you realize you’re running out of time,” Phillips said. “To be making this push together, you know there’s no one else you rather do it with.” 

With Peterson in the box at 8:56, the Terriers were tasked with killing off the third Cornell power play of the night, and while there were dangerous looks, BU gutted it out when it mattered the most. 

“When it was time to block a shot, we blocked a shot. When it was time for Drew to make a save, Drew made a save. That’s important,” Pandolfo said of the PK. 

Cornell’s Dalton Bancroft snuck one in with less than a minute on the clock to make it 2-1 –– queue the most stressful 28.4 seconds of my 21-year-old life –– but the Terriers hung on to secure a character-defining victory and punch their ticket to the Frozen Four for the first time since 2015.  

When asked what he was most excited for in the sunshine state, Commesso gave an answer that ties directly to BU’s success this season. These guys are playing for each other. 

“Honestly, just to spend more time with the guys,” Commesso said. “That’s the best part of this team, we’re so close, and to get another two weeks to spend with them is so special.” 

With two weeks before they head to Florida, the Terriers will no doubt enjoy this win and get back to work as they await their next opponent. The Boston Hockey Blog will have continued full coverage (in Tampa too!) so be sure to follow along on Twitter @BOShockeyblog and Instagram


  1. Again congrats to the entire team and coaching staff for this terrific achievement of advancing to the Frozen Four. Its only the 3rd time the program has done it in the last quarter century and i don’t think its a coincidence that this Terrier squad is senior laden. With ten seniors set to graduate ( hopefully with the title), its a statement that a good mix of experienced senior leadership along with of course an outstanding freshman class led by Lane Hudson is the formula it takes to reach lofty heights in college hockey. In recent years we have seldom seen a BU team with so many (10) and with 5 juniors hopefully ready to take over the leadership roles next year. This is the culture that needs to continue going forward for our storied program and enough with the one and done players. This team really has no superstars like an Eichel or a Colin Wilson in 2009 , but a team with balance and different contributors to success almost from game to game.
    In this afternoon’s game BU’s strategy was perfect vs a team that while big tough and fast don’t have a lot of firepower. Getting the first goal as the Terriers did was a big key to winning, and the continued fine play of Phillips, stepping up in Zabaneh’s absence, putting the finishing touches on a terrific team defensive effort to put away the Big Red. At this stage of the season and after all they have been through this year the Terriers should have no fear for any opponent in the Frozen Four. The semifinal matchup with Minnesota should be an excellent game with of course an NCAA tourney rivalry that goes back decades. Onward Terriers to sure victory!

  2. Vito,
    i might respectfully disagree with your statement about no superstars. I would put Lane Hutson in that category

    • Certainly Lane is a star for the Terriers and they probably would not have achieved what they have so far without him, however i don’t believe he can dominate a game like Eichel or Wilson could for those former Frozen Four BU squads IMO ( your point is well taken Vinnie.)

  3. vito,
    how about we split the difference and give the superstar table to the whole freshman class 🙂

  4. boy vinnie you’re higher on this group them i am (now!) i guess they’re a shoo in for the title

  5. I remember telling friends and coworkers that if this team got good goaltending, it could be a special year. Although I’m a huge college hoops fan too, I almost wish the Terriers were playing this weekend. Somewhere out there< Colin is smiling! Tk out!

  6. Ozzie is smiling too because he was the one, among others, who was clamoring for a coaching change. the Ozman was spot on

  7. What a weekend in Manchester!! Some of the best defesive games we seen all year and we seen plenty !!! Everyone stepped up … This team is on fire 🔥…. 9 straight after going thru a little 4 game struggle which some of u guys were ready to quit on these guys … Not me!!! I always believed and still do and what pandolfo has done for this team is unreal a true professional!!! Guys bought into his way his motto ans it shows !!! I wish some of u could see how the family and friends of thr team was this weeknd !!! Great antmosphere and lots of hugs hi fuves etc.. Yes Colin and myself were right smack in the middle like we always have!!!! 2 more to go the boys arw ready !!! See ya in Tampa.. Go BU 🐾.. How about drew hub??? 💯💯I’m surprised not too many comments on here think there was more during the 4 game slump. It’s all good there was alot of peole etc in NH that loved it… We coming home champs!!! BU 🐾all positive vibes!!!

  8. Rui,
    i think coach P would agree with us who were critical of DC when he says: “There’s no question over the course of the season, [Commesso] wasn’t as consistent as he’d like to be,” Pandolfo said. “It’s something that he’s kind of addressed.