By Mitch Fink
The Boston University men’s hockey team unceremoniously bowed out in the National Semifinals against Minnesota, but the Terriers had no shortage of thrilling wins in Jay Pandolfo’s first year at the helm.
Take a look at my top 10 moments from a memorable season of BU hockey.
- Freshmen combine for five goals in rout of Bentley
This season-opening win was quite the debut for BU’s freshman class, which proved to be critical to the Terriers’ success all year long. Ryan Greene, Jeremy Wilmer, Devin Kaplan and Quinn Hutson all scored, and Lane Hutson dished out a helper as BU torched the Falcons, 8-2, at Agganis Arena.
The game wasn’t especially competitive, but it gave the freshman class a jolt of confidence that paid off as the season wore on.
- Cade Webber scores key goal in win over Michigan
The Wolverines mauled BU, 9-2, the night before, so the Terriers were looking to avoid the sweep and pick up a character win over a premier Big 10 opponent. After falling behind 1-0, Webber’s tally went a long way to settle things down and get BU back into the game. In the end, the Terriers pulled out a gutsy 3-2 victory.
- Nick Zabaneh nets hat trick in playoff win over Vermont
Zabaneh’s explosion in the Terriers’ Hockey East playoff opener was a prime example of BU’s depth. Zabaneh isn’t a star player for BU, but he simply took over in the Terriers’ rout of Vermont. Plus, his performance against the Catamounts put Zabaneh’s chemistry with Dylan Peterson — who assisted on all three of Zabaneh’s goals — on full display.
Zabaneh’s speed, physicality and experience will be key to BU’s success next year — especially if he shares a line with Peterson once again.
Lane Hutson’s first overtime winner of the season came in one of BU’s most thrilling games of the season. With BU trailing, 1-0, with three minutes to go, Hutson sniped the tying goal on an impressive individual effort. Then, after Case McCarthy’s would-be winner with five seconds to go was wiped off the board for goaltender interference, Hutson played overtime hero by scoring his second goal of the night on another pretty move.
- BU bounces back from high-scoring loss to BC, takes down UConn on the road
Don’t overlook this win over the Huskies, which came two days after BU suffered a demoralizing 9-6 loss to archrival Boston College. Drew Commesso followed up a poor showing with a great one, and the Terriers pulled out a quality win against a tough Hockey East opponent on the road.
This win is just one example of BU’s resilience this year. Besides a four-game losing streak in February, the Terriers rarely lost two games in a row. And this win over the Huskies sparked a new hot streak, during which BU won 10 of its 11 games.
- Lane Hutson plays overtime hero (again) in road win over Northeastern
Two weeks after his heroics against Lowell, Hutson came through in the clutch again for BU. This time, his overtime winner snatched a road win from rival Northeastern, BU’s only win over the Huskies this season.
Northeastern star goaltender Devon Levi, now with the Buffalo Sabres, turned in a sparkling shutout performance in Northeastern’s 1-0 win at Agganis Arena the night before. That only made Hutson’s winner sweeter for the Terriers, who avoided the sweep in a hostile environment at Matthews Arena.
- Lane Hutson beats the buzzer as BU outlasts Cornell
Surprise, surprise. Another Lane Hutson game-winner. This one sealed what may have been the most exciting game at Agganis Arena all season long. BU trailed the Big Red for most of the game, but Hutson somehow sneaked a wrister past Cornell goalie Ian Shane with just seconds to go in regulation.
- Drew Commesso shuts down BC at Conte Forum
Commesso had ups and downs this season, but his performance inthis road win over Boston College proves his legitimate NHL upside. BC put enough pressure on net to win this game handily, but Commesso simply stole this one from the Eagles.
The win sealed a sweep over BC, and avenged the Eagles’ 9-6 win over BU in December, Commesso’s worst performance of the season.
- Devin Kaplan scores tying goal in Hockey East final
Kaplan’s huge goal tied the Hockey East final 2-2 in the third period. The freshman forward only got better as BU’s season rolled along, and he had no moment bigger than this snipe. Merrimack goalie Hugo Ollas covers most of the net with his massive 6-foot-8 frame, but Kaplan found the perfect angle and picked the corner to tie the game in the third period.
Lane Hutson (you guessed it) scored the overtime winner, but Kaplan deserves some shine too. The tying goal was just as critical as the winner.
- Ethan Phillips comes up clutch in Manchester
Forward depth was arguably the team’s greatest asset this season. Nothing exemplified that strength more than Ethan Phillips’ breakout weekend at the Manchester Regional, which carried the Terriers to their first Frozen Four appearance since 2015. In BU’s two games (against Western Michigan and Cornell), Phillips recorded two goals and two assists. I don’t think anyone had that on their BU hockey bingo card.
Phillips has dealt with injury throughout his BU career — including this season — and, at times, he’s struggled to produce when he has been on the ice. In Manchester, though, something clicked. That should be a good sign for BU fans, assuming he’ll return for a fifth year.