Game Recaps

Three takeaways from BU’s 6-3 win over RIT in NCAA regional semifinal

Photo by Gracie Davenport.

The Boston University men’s hockey team advanced to the NCAA regional final with a 6-3 win over the RIT Tigers Thursday night at the Denny Sanford Premier Center in Sioux Falls, SD. 

The top-seeded Terriers got scoring from six different players, and junior goaltender Mathieu Caron was foolproof with a 28-save performance. Despite a sloppy first period, BU found its game in the second period and dominated until the final buzzer.

Three takeaways from the tournament victory, below: 

First period must be better, but BU responded nonetheless 

The Terriers did not, by any means, play their best hockey in the opening 20 minutes. Careless turnovers resulted in high-danger chances from RIT, and Caron was the only reason BU didn’t get behind early. 

“It was just some poor decisions, that’s what it came down to. I don’t think we’ve given up that many breakaways in the second half of the year combined,” BU head coach Jay Pandolfo said postgame. 

While the Terriers still managed to claim a 2-1 lead at the end of the first – with goals from sophomore defenseman Lane Hutson and sophomore forward Ryan Greene – the Tigers held the edge, outshooting BU 13-6. 


Luckily, the Terriers’ talent can keep them afloat until things start to click, and that they did come the second period. BU outshot RIT 19-10 in the middle frame and was up 4-2 by the end of 40 minutes. 

After giving up a goal to Tiger fifth-year forward Gianfranco Cassaro with 4:40 remaining in the second period, Macklin Celebrini came in clutch to widen the gap. Surprising, I know. 

The freshman forward potted a pretty tic-tac-toe goal  at 17:01 off the rush with senior forwards Dylan Peterson and Nick Zabaneh to extend BU’s lead 4-2 heading into the third period. The Terriers had control of the game and just had to play close-out hockey to finish RIT off. 

“My linemates made a couple great passes and kind of left me backdoor alone, there wasn’t much I did,” Celebrini said postgame. 


Terriers’ offense is alive and well

Following a deflating 6-2 loss to Boston College in the Hockey East Championship Saturday at TD Garden, the Terriers got their scoring touch back against the Tigers. 

What’s more, BU got contributions from up and down the lineup. This team is at its best when its depth is on display, and that was the case Thursday. 

Sophomore forward Devin Kaplan, freshman defenseman Tom Willander, Zabaneh, Peterson, Hutson and Celebrini all logged two points, showcasing the Terriers’ confidence in any line to make a difference. 

“We have a lot of great players on our roster and that’s why we’ve been so successful this season,” Celebrini said. “When certain guys aren’t going, you can trust that your teammates have your back and they’ll do their job as well.” 

It was graduate forward Sam Stevens’ goal at 8:16 of the second period which gave BU a 3-1 lead that put an exclamation point on what the Terriers’ bottom six has meant to their success this season. 

Stevens’ tally was initially set up by a strong keep-in from Kaplan before Hutson dished it to the assistant captain by the left circle to blast past RIT goaltender Tommy Scarfone. Pandolfo called Stevens the team’s “most consistent player” on Wednesday, and he played up to the praise. 

Stevens got moved up to the second line with sophomores Jack Hughes and Quinn Hutson half way through the game as Pandolfo decided to roll with three centers down the stretch. 

“I just liked the way Greene, Celebrini, and Stevens were going, so that was the decision,” Pandolfo said.


Mathieu Caron continues to be steady force 

In his first NCAA Tournament appearance, Caron looked like the most experienced Terrier for portions of the game. The goaltender fended off the early-and-often odd-man rushes from the Tigers and was poised with his stops – not overextending himself nor leaving position

“He was huge for us. He’s been our rock all year,” Lane Hutson said postgame. “Obviously we don’t want to give up that many high-quality chances, but he stood tall for us. We always know he’s going to have our back.” 

Photo by Gracie Davenport.

The Terriers must learn to play a full 60 minutes – their tournament survival depends on it – but having Caron at his best has no doubt been a welcome safety net for the group. Caron posted a .903 save percentage Thursday with just two goals against. 

“Our goaltender was very good,” Pandolfo said.  

Onto the next 

The Terriers will face the winner of the Minnesota vs. Omaha game in the regional final Saturday at 6:30 p.m. ET. A potential rematch of last season’s national semifinal is on the table if the Gophers advance. 

The Boston Hockey Blog will have full, on-the-ground coverage of the matchup, so be sure to follow along on Twitter (X) @BOShockeyblog and Instagram

Photo by Gracie Davenport.

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