Three points from Quinn Hutson, a veteran performance from Luke Tuch, fourth line contributions from Shane Lachacne and clutch stops from Mathieu Caron; the Boston University men’s hockey team is playing as a unit, and it’s earned the group another series sweep.
The Terriers (7-2-1, 4-1-1 Hockey East) topped the University of Maine Black Bears (6-3-1, 3-2-1 HE) 5-4 Saturday night, closing out the two-win weekend in front of the Agganis Arena faithful, and extending its win streak to four games.
“It was a big weekend sweep for us against a very good team,” BU head coach Jay Pandolfo said postgame.
The Black Bears had good pressure from puck drop, suffocating BU’s transition game and shutting plays down at the offensive blue line. However, junior goaltender Mathieu Caron weathered the early push, buying his team time to find its legs in the latter half of the period.
For the second night in a row Maine opened the scoring, this time at 10:12 of the opening frame off a tic-tac-toe play on the rush from its first line. Freshman forward Bradly Nadeau one-timed it from the left side off a Lynden Breen pass for the 1-0 advantage.
While Quinn Hutson put up a four-goal weekend against UMass Lowell, the sophomore forward wasn’t wholly pleased with the type of tallies he was netting – mostly down-low, knock in shots.
However, that changed at 14:02 of the first period while BU was on the power play. In an impressive individual effort, Q. Hutson weaved the puck to the top of the zone before cutting down to the left circle and sniping it past senior goaltender Victor Ostman’s right shoulder to tie things at 1-1.
“It’s nice to see them finally go in for him, I know he was fighting it a little bit,” Lane Hutson, who assisted on both of Quinn’s eventual two goals, said postgame. “Obviously Macklin [Celebrini] is making some great plays to him — he loves that — but he scores goals, it’s what he does.”
Senior forward Luke Tuch scored the Terriers’ first 5-on-5 goal of the weekend at 2:14 of the second period, tipping in a M. Celebrini wrister for his fifth tuck of the season. Tuch’s strength on and away from the puck was on full display this weekend, and his sturdy net-front positioning was rewarded.
“It was better for sure. I thought we had some more sustained O-zone time. I thought we were transitioning quick and getting behind them a little better,” Pandolfo said of his team’s 5-on-5 play.
The fourth line was a key piece to BU’s success this weekend, matching up with Maine’s top lines and grinding it out along the boards. Shane Lachane – who is more regularly known for his work by the crease – showed his versatility with a wrister from above the left dot that made it 3-1 at 4:23 of the third period.
“I think it was a big time for our team to get some energy,” Lachance said postgame, with his grandfather – legendary BU hockey coach Jack Parker – sitting in on the press conference. “And Tom [Willander] made a great play to stretch a pass to me and luckily stayed onsides and kind of just shot it and found its way in. Felt good for sure.”
Hutson and Devin Kaplan buried the next two for the Terriers. Macklin Celebrini’s assist on the Q. Hutson goal marked his 22nd point in the opening 11 games of his freshman campaign – averaging two points per game.
Kaplan’s tally stemmed from a shifty play by sophomore forward Jeremy Wilmer along the boards, dropping the puck to his linemate on the right doorstep who knocked it in to make it 5-2 at 8:53. Maine pulled Ostman thereafter and replaced him with freshman netminder Albin Boija.
The Black Bears had a strong third period push. Two power play goals from freshman forward Josh Nadeau and sophomore forward Nicholas Niemo closed the gap to 5-4 by 17:12. However, BU held on in a squirmish final few minutes of play and secured its second consecutive weekend sweep.
“I think what we need to take away from it as a team is we need to learn how to close games out. I wasn’t happy with letting them get back in the game,” Pandolfo said. “We have to manage the game much better. It’s still early in the season so hopefully we learn from that. But overall, it’s a great weekend for us.”
— Boston Hockey Blog (@BOShockeyblog) November 18, 2023
Despite the four goals against, Caron arguably played his best game in the scarlet and white, posting a season-high 39 saves. Now settled into the Terrier system, Caron is showing sides of his game that weren’t there early in the season – namely, agility and sharp puck tracking. The netminder’s rebound control has also been much improved.
“It seems like he’s found another level, and it helps us out a lot,” L. Hutson said. “It helps us generate more, too. He’s been better at playing pucks and everything’s just kind of clicking.”
With the win, the Terriers have not lost a game in regulation since Oct. 20 against the University of Notre Dame and have won five of their last six competitions. Their next task at hand will be taking down the reigning national champions, Quinnipiac University, at Agganis Arena Wednesday evening.
The Boston Hockey Blog will have full, on-the-ground coverage of Wednesday’s 5 p.m. matchup so be sure to follow along on Twitter (X) @BOShockeyblog and Instagram @boston.hockey.blog.