For about two seconds, Dylan Peterson lay on the ice writhing in pain. The senior forward had just taken a powerful slapshot to the left foot, and he began to hobble back towards the bench.
Then, he changed his mind. Peterson dove back into the fray, putting his body in front of another shot. When the 10-second sequence was over, Peterson had earned himself three blocked shots and a gnarly bruise.
The gutsy play was a microcosm of BU’s 3-2 win over No. 3 North Dakota at Agganis Arena Friday night. Facing a physical Fighting Hawks team with plenty of veteran savvy, the Terriers put their bodies on the line when it mattered most.
“We were willing to block shots. We battled,” BU head coach Jay Pandolfo said postgame. “They’ve got a heavy team over there. They’re a really good team. A little older, some of their guys, and obviously we have some young guys. It was good for our guys to go through a game like that.”
To start the contest, BU (4-2-1, 1-1-1 Hockey East) was firing on all cylinders. The Terriers peppered North Dakota goalie Ludvig Persson with shots, controlling possession and stringing together long stretches of time in the offensive zone. Defensively, BU looked composed and solid.
But the Fighting Hawks (4-1-1, 0-0-0 NCHC) found the net first. Sophomore forward Jackson Blake picked up the puck along the boards, cut to the middle and fired a shot that squeaked through junior goaltender Mathieu Caron’s five hole at 4:18 of the first period.
The Terriers struck back at 16:33 of the first. With Peterson screening at the netfront, freshman forward Shane Lachance drove the goal line, deked to his backhand and floated the puck into the crease. Peterson got his stick on it, deflecting the puck past Persson to tie the game. Pandolfo said Peterson’s play has been “excellent” of late.
“He’s a big forward, power forward, gets to the net,” Pandolfo said. “That’s what happened on that goal. Lachance drove to the net and he was just battling in front and it ended up going off his stick.”
At the end of the stanza, the Terriers held an 8-5 advantage in shots on goal. With the exception of Blake’s goal, BU dominated the period.
After a back-and-forth start to the second period, BU found itself with a golden opportunity: 1:58 of time on the 5-on-3.
Jackson Kunz took the first penalty — a roughing charge — after ramming into freshman forward Macklin Celebrini along the boards. On the ensuing faceoff, North Dakota’s Jake Schmaltz was whistled for a faceoff violation.
That set up the first full opportunity for BU’s lethal 5-on-3 unit, featuring Macklin Celebrini and sophomore defenseman Lane Hutson. It was clinical. The Terriers positioned Lachance as a netfront screener, and Jeremy Wilmer and Ryan Greene set up on opposite sides of the goal line.
That left the middle of the ice open for Macklin Celebrini and Lane Hutson to work their magic. The three Fighting Hawks were forced to respect the shots of both standouts, for obvious reasons. So, Lane Hutson found himself with time and space in the right circle. The star defenseman made no mistake, powering a wrister past Persson to put the Terriers up, 2-1.
But BU’s lead was short-lived. With Schmaltz still in the box, sophomore forward Ben Strinden cut to the middle of the ice and rifled a shorthanded goal past, tying the game on an impressive individual effort.
With both teams in pursuit of a go-ahead tally, the game developed a brisk pace. Both teams found chances in the offensive zone, with Caron and Persson both making key saves to keep the game tied into the third.
With the game on the line, the Terriers’ power play came through once again. Junior forward Jack Hughes flicked the puck to sophomore forward Devin Kaplan, who made a diving pass through traffic to a wide-open Luke Tuch on the far side of the crease. Tuch corralled the puck and coolly slotted it home, giving BU a 3-2 advantage.
“Hell of a pass by Devin Kaplan there at the backdoor, and I just put my stick down and shot the puck,” Tuch said postgame. “The fans got going after that one. It felt really good.”
With North Dakota in desperate pursuit of a tying goal, BU hunkered down and played one of its most complete defensive stretches of the season. The Terriers recorded 22 blocked shots in the game, and many of them came in the final minutes.
“I think we’re more interconnected with our forwards and our D,” Tuch said. “I think we’re just making the right reads in the D zone, and we’re making the simple play a lot of the time.”
The series will wrap up tomorrow night at Agganis Arena. Puck drop is set for 7 p.m., and the Boston Hockey Blog will have full coverage. Follow along on Twitter (X) @BOShockeyblog and Instagram @boston.hockey.blog.