Powered by two late goals from sophomore forward Ryan Greene, the No. 5 Boston University men’s hockey team (9-3-1, 5-1-1 Hockey East) erased a two-goal deficit in the third period to take down the No. 3 Quinnipiac University Bobcats (9-4-1, 5-0-1 ECAC), 3-2, Wednesday night.
Agganis Arena was packed for the Thanksgiving Eve game, and the top-five tilt did not disappoint. Taking down the defending national champions, the Terriers picked up another benchmark win early on in the season.
“I had a feeling on the bench. The guys didn’t get down, and they kept pushing,” BU head coach Jay Pandolfo said postgame. “Just a great response there, and it’s a huge win for us.”
In a game this evenly matched, goaltending decided the first 40 minutes.
Senior goaltender Vinny Duplessis had his homecoming — of course, he spent his three years in the Scarlet and White. The former Terrier made several quality stops throughout the night — including a point blank Macklin Celebrini one-timer in the first.
The Terriers were on their heels in the first half of the opening frame, taking back-to-back slashing minors to start. However, the much improved defensive effort shined early with graduate defender Case McCarthy standing out in particular — sacrificing his body on every play to break up three high-danger Bobcat chances.
“He’s been really steady. I thought the last two weekends he’s been really good for us,” Pandolfo said. “Always getting top matchups against the other team’s top players … his leadership’s been excellent for us.”
BU did its best to clog up the middle of the ice with only two of Quinnipiac’s first 14 shots making it on target. By the final horn, the Terriers recorded a season-high 23 blocked shots.
Down at the other end, junior goaltender Mathieu Caron was holding it down for BU. With five minutes remaining, Quinnipiac’s strong forecheck generated a chance from below the goal line, and Caron had to stretch his pads to bail out his team.
“‘Chewy’ was there any time they had any quality chances,” Pandolfo said. “He was excellent tonight.”
The Bobcats came out flying in the middle frame, and the Terriers had to rely on their netminder once more.
Quinnipiac led in second-period shots 26-12, but BU’s 10 blocked shots limited the Bobcats to only 10 on target.
The Terriers started the third period on the power play, but the hottest man advantage in the nation met its match in the Bobcat penalty kill. Up to that point, Quinnipiac aggressively kept BU to the perimeter, limiting any scoring chances.
The Bobcats finally broke through Caron at 2:37 of the third period to take the 1-0 lead. Caron made the initial save on graduate forward Zach Tupker, but freshman forward Andon Cerbone cleaned up the loose change in the slot, firing the puck past the netminder.
Quinnipiac doubled its lead to make it 2-0 at 4:50 from a long shot by Charles Alexis Legault. The sophomore defender’s blast from the blue line redirected off of BU’s graduate defender Cade Webber and into the back of the net.
However, the Terriers just never quit and were finally able to break through Quinnipiac’s structure. BU’s first goal of the night came at 7:48 of the third, and it was a credit to good puck movement by the entire group.
“You have to make plays quick,” Pandolfo said. “You have to against them because they try to close on you quick.”
At the end of a good cycle, the puck found sophomore defender Lane Hutson’s stick.
When Lane holds onto the puck in the slot — taking his time to find the perfect shot — you can just feel the ensuing goal. His initial shot was tapped in by sophomore forward Jeremy Wilmer to make it a 2-1 game. Leading the team in assists, Wilmer picked up his first goal of the season.
“I feel like everyone on the ice touched it, and I finished it off on a really good pass,” Wilmer said.
Getting BU on the board, the goal breathed life back into the home bench.
The second line continued its monster night with another goal in the final five minutes of the game. Greene tied the game with 4:34 remaining in the third.
Duplessis stopped sophomore forward Devin Kaplan’s initial shot but could not control the rebound. Kaplan picked up the rubber and found Greene in the slot, who fired it home for his fifth goal of the season.
At this point, the Terriers were firing on all cylinders, and an irresponsible cross check to graduate forward Sam Stevens with 2:51 remaining in regulation gave BU a prime opportunity to take the lead.
To cap off the sophomore class’s impressive offensive showing, Greene scored the go-ahead goal at 18:09 on the power play. With freshman forward Shane Lachance screening Duplessis in front, Greene fired from above the right circle to seal the deal.
“Once we got the first one, we kind of knew obviously we were closer to tying the game,” Greene said. “Once we were able to tie it … we just had so much momentum and energy that we were able to bury that last one.”
Unhappy with his team’s effort to close out games last weekend against Maine, Pandolfo was much happier with the result tonight as the Terriers came away with the 3-2 win.
“I thought we were solid,” Pandolfo said. “We didn’t give them much at all at the end there.”
Greene finished the night with three points, and every point came from the team’s sophomores.
After the final buzzer, Duplessis shared a moment with his former team at center ice.
“I just told him I loved him,” Greene said. “Obviously, an unbelievable guy and we loved to have him here last year. It’s unfortunate that he had to go, but that’s college hockey.”
This win marked the Terriers fifth consecutive win and their fourth win over top-10 teams this month. They now sit first in the PairWise rankings. Plus, the result was Quinnipiac’s first regulation loss since Jan. 2023.
With every win, this team continues to look more like the projected No. 1 team it was made out to be preseason.
“It’s a great win for our team. I think it’s a confidence booster,” Pandolfo said. “We want to keep improving, but this hopefully helps us later on.”
The Terriers’s strength of schedule will not let up this weekend as they head to the Big Apple for the biennial Red Hot Hockey matchup against the Cornell Big Red.
“It’s great for our guys to have that experience, so we’re looking forward to it,” Pandolfo said. “We know they’re very difficult to play against, so it’s gonna be another tough matchup for us.”
The Boston Hockey Blog will have full, on-the-ground coverage of Saturday’s 8 p.m. matchup at Madison Square Garden so be sure to follow along on Twitter (X) @BOShockeyblog and Instagram @boston.hockey.blog.