A revitalized Mathieu Caron carried BU to success against UMass

Photo by Molly Potter.

Mathieu Caron made the save and jumped towards the Boston University bench, lifting his arms high and pulling them down towards his side in jubilation. Seconds later, he was mobbed by a sea of red jerseys.

Caron had just capped off his most complete performance as a Terrier — a 38-save effort in a 3-3 tie at UMass Amherst on Saturday night, plus three shootout saves to earn BU the extra Hockey East point. Caron, it seemed, had been waiting all season to show off the celebration.  

The start of Caron’s BU career has had its ups and downs. The transfer goaltender from Brown came to the Terriers with high expectations, but he took time to adjust to his new bearings. Caron conceded 12 goals in his first three starts, marking a rough patch that contributed to BU’s early season struggles. 

But in the Terriers’ unbeaten series against the Minutemen this weekend, Caron performed with the poise that defined his successful spell with Brown. The netminder made 56 saves across the two games. In an 18-save performance during Friday’s 5-2 win at Agganis Arena, Caron played with confidence. In the shootout win on Saturday, he played with swagger.                                     

“I thought he was excellent tonight,” head coach Jay Pandolfo said of Caron after Saturday’s game. “He had a lot of bodies in front of him, pucks coming at him from all over the place. He competes in there. So, I really liked his weekend.”

 Caron was the second-best netminder in a strong ECAC last year, behind only Quinnipiac’s Yaniv Perets, a Richter Award finalist and national champion. At Brown, Caron posted a 2.49 goals against average and .921 save percentage in 24 starts. In his first three BU starts, Caron notched a .857 save percentage with a goals against average of 3. The sample size is, of course, far too small to analyze at length. But the discrepancy makes it clear: he had not played to his full potential. 

Some may argue that the goaltender was not prepared for the adjustment in speed and skill from the ECAC to Hockey East. But Brown often faces off against Hockey East opponents in its non-conference schedule. In his two seasons with the Bears, Caron played in eight games against Hockey East teams, including battles with BU, UMass, Boston College and Providence. Plus, he regularly faced off against nationally relevant ECAC teams in Quinnipiac, Harvard and Cornell.

“It’s not really who we’re playing, it’s more just getting used to the guys and we’re most certainly working in the right direction,” Caron said after Saturday’s game.

Photo by Molly Potter.

He was ready for the Minutemen. Caron made several huge saves through traffic, including an impressive stop with the Terriers on the penalty kill midway through the second period. After a defensive breakdown left the UMass forward Jack Musa alone on net, Caron snuffed out Musa’s deke to the forehand with a pad save. Then, he made several more stops on the ensuing net front scrum. When the power play came to end, Devin Kaplan — who had been in the penalty box — corralled the puck on his way back onto the ice and scored to tie the game at one.

Then, with the Terriers trailing, 3-2, in the third period, Caron made another outstanding diving stop after UMass forward Lucas Mercuri tried to stuff one around his pads on the backhand side. Caron shuffled back into position, covering the puck amid a pile of bodies to defuse the threat.

That save showcased the recent improvement in Caron’s rebound control. The netminder struggled to limit second chances against New Hampshire and in last Friday’s loss to Notre Dame.  That was rarely the case this weekend — and especially not on Saturday. Caron was sharp with his glove and, when he did give up a second chance, he scrambled back into position to make the following save.  

“He’s unbelievable,” freshman forward Macklin Celebrini said of Caron after Saturday’s game. “He’s the reason we won. We would not have won that game without him.”

Without a proven backup option on the bench, Caron’s play makes or breaks the championship ceiling of the Terriers. If he plays the way he did against the Minutemen — reliable and confident — BU fans should feel good about the team’s chances come the spring.

The Terriers don’t need a Richter Award winner to reach their ultimate goal this season. Therein lies the luxury of having Macklin Celebrini, Lane Hutson and Co. on the roster. But as the season rolls along and games become increasingly consequential, Caron will be tested in big spots, with high expectations.

And the more confident Caron becomes, the more effective he will be.


  1. Where is everybody?

    After playing a near perfect game on Saturday at ND (minus two D men), we followed up with a very solid performance on Friday, and yet no acknowledgement. Saturday, we admittedly did not play at the elite level we had been performing at, yet we gutted out a tie that (to me) felt like a victory. Caron was superb in both that game, and in its shootout. Seeing 0 Comments, after some excellent efforts, is puzzling? PSD

  2. G lad the team is starting to get it together. Due to some health issues I haven’t watched a game yet but i have been following the results. I will attend the game on Saturday vs ND so i will be able to comment fully on that game next week. I’m not that surprised that they have struggled somewhat early on. They lost 13 players from last years team that won so much and appeared in the Frozen Four. This year’s team therefore is new and despite the high level influx of Freshman talent it takes a while for the players to get to know each other, learn to play together and establish their own identity. The good news is that they have lofty ambitions for this yearn and they have the confidence needed to achieve them.

  3. Hey Vito! I hope your health issues are soon in your rear view mirror and that you feel great again. I will be up for the two games this weekend too. I will be taking my stepson. I know North Dakota will be quite a challenge for us but hopefully we can sweep them. Can’t wait to see Macklin in person!