Game Recaps

Terriers outmuscle Merrimack in chippy road win, 4-1

Photo by Gracie Davenport.

NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. — It was some combination of a hockey game, a fever dream and an all-out brawl. Or, as Boston University head coach Jay Pandolfo called it, a “gong show.”

After 103 penalty minutes, three major penalties and a mid-game fire alarm, the Terriers (10-4-1, 6-1-1 Hockey East) emerged from Lawler Rink with a 4-1 win over Merrimack College (6-7-1, 2-5-1 HEA) on Friday in a rematch of last season’s Hockey East title game. 

“This is a tough place to play. We haven’t had a ton of success here recently, so it’s a huge win for us,” Pandolfo said postgame. “I’m glad we stuck with it.” 

The first period was a tame prelude to the chaos that was to come, although BU took a 1-0 lead on Doug Grimes’ second goal in as many games. The freshman forward jammed home a rebound at 9:52 of the first to earn BU a 1-0 lead. 

Less than one minute into the second period, though, the action quickly unraveled. 

Merrimack junior forward Matt Copponi barrelled BU’s Cade Webber into the boards at 1:19, leaving the senior defenseman writhing in pain for several minutes after the play. After a review, Copponi received a five-minute major for boarding and a game misconduct, which ejected him from the contest. Webber was facing into the boards and defenseless before the hit. He was helped off the ice by the Terriers’ training staff. 

“Those are the hits that we’re trying to take out of the league. It was a point of emphasis to start the season,” Pandolfo said. “He can’t defend himself on that hit. It’s a very dangerous hit.”

BU avenged the play in less than 10 seconds. Shane Lachance collected a pretty pass from Ryan Greene — who was positioned on the left bumper — and blasted a one-timer from the slot to make it 2-0.

Less than 10 minutes after the hit, Webber was back on the ice. 

“He’s a tough kid. He does a lot for us,” Pandolfo said. “You hold your breath there when he goes down like that. Very happy he came back.” 

Just past the midpoint of the second period — with the Terriers holding on to their 2-0 lead — the game’s physicality grew out of hand. Nine players received penalties at 12:09 of the second after a series of scrums during stoppages in play. BU emerged from the fray with two minutes of 5-on-4 time, and Lachance cashed in once again.

The freshman, who grew up five minutes from Merrimack in Andover, scored his second power play goal of the game, angling his stick to deflect a Lane Hutson wrister past Merrimack goalie Hugo Ollas. 

“Obviously a lot of penalties tonight so it was tough…but our power play has been clicking,” Lachance said. 

With 1:49 remaining in the second and the Terriers dominating play, Pandolfo challenged for a major penalty after freshman defenseman Tom Willander took a crunching hit in front of the BU bench. 

That’s when things got weird. 

As the officials reviewed the call, fire alarms began to blare. After several minutes of confusion, fans were told to head for the exits, and the teams slipped into their respective locker rooms. The local fire department briefly inspected the issue, but fans were waved back into the rink shortly after.

When the mess was cleaned up, the remaining 1:49 from the second period was played, the teams took a two-minute break, and the third period then ensued. The ordeal took more than 20 minutes. From puck drop to the final buzzer, the second period lasted longer than an hour and a half. 

Freshman forward Ethan Bono tapped home a rebound for the Warriors at 4:52 to make it 3-1, but Merrimack struggled to get anything consistent going in the offensive end. 

And with less than three and a half minutes remaining, Macklin Celebrini sent the Warriors to the exits for good with his 10th goal of the season, a wrister that snuck past Ollas.

Photo by Gracie Davenport.

Pandolfo shook up the lineup ahead of the game, swapping BU’s left wings on every line but the first. 

Lachance jumped up from the fourth line to the second, playing alongside sophomores Ryan Greene and Devin Kaplan. The speedy Nick Zabaneh took Lachance’s spot on the Terriers’ gritty fourth line and sophomore Jeremy Wilmer slotted into the third line with Jack Hughes and Dylan Peterson. 

The changes extended to the back end, too. Lane Hutson and Tom Willander shared the blue line for the first time this season. Hutson had been paired with Case McCarthy before the change, and Willander was slotted alongside Cade Webber — and Aiden Celebrini before that. 

“I thought for the most part it worked out pretty well,” Pandolfo said, specifically praising Wilmer’s fit on the second line and Zabaneh’s addition to the fourth line. 

The teams will square off tomorrow night at Agganis Arena in the series finale. Puck drop is at 6 p.m, and The Boston Hockey Blog will have full, on-the-ground coverage. Follow along at and on Twitter (X) @BOShockeyblog.

One Comment

  1. Maybe the Terriers should skate out in Charlestown Chiefs jerseys tonight. 😉