Game Previews

Terriers to rematch Minnesota in NCAA regional final

Photo by Gracie Davenport.

The Terriers watched as the Gophers flooded the ice to celebrate their national semifinal win. 358 days ago, a whirlwind season had come to a stunning end at Amalie Arena. The Boston University men’s hockey team fell 6-2 to the University of Minnesota. 

Now, nearly a year later, the Terriers have a chance at revenge. 

First-seeded BU (27-9-2) will take on the second-seeded Gophers (23-10-5) in the Sioux Falls regional final Saturday evening with a ticket to St. Paul, Minn. and Frozen Four berth on the line. 

“We have a lot of guys that haven’t forgotten last year – that ended our season. I think we wanted this matchup,” senior forward Nick Zabaneh said Friday. “Leaves a sour taste in our mouths, so we’re looking forward to getting back at them here.” 

The Terriers are coming off a 6-2 win over the RIT Tigers Thursday night in the regional semifinal. BU got contributions from six different goal-scorers – Lane Hutson, Ryan Greene, Sam Stevens, Macklin Celebrini, Jack Harvey and Dylan Peterson – and junior goaltender Mathieu Caron was sturdy with 28 saves. 

Despite the drubbing on the scoreboard, the Terriers were not at their best. The first period was flawed – turnovers, miscommunication and lackadaisical effort in the neutral zone supplied RIT with plenty of early, high-danger looks. BU’s talent ultimately took over, but it’ll need a much better start against a team of Minnesota’s caliber. 

“I think we understand that it’s going to take everybody for a full 60. I’m really not worried…It’s do or die at this time of the year,” senior forward Dylan Peterson said Friday. “I think up and down the lineup – young guys and old guys – we all understand that.” 

Another area of improvement for the Terriers will have to be special teams. In the last two games, BU is 2-for-7 on the penalty kill and 1-for-7 on the power play. Discipline in staying out of the box will be key, as well as striking on the man advantage. 

In its 39th NCAA Tournament appearance, BU is looking to punch its ticket to the Frozen Four for the second consecutive season. Fifteen of the Terriers’ current 29 roster players were part of last season’s run, and that experience will be important in terms of game management with stakes this high. 

Photo by Gracie Davenport.

“That’s all we think about – lose sleep some nights just thinking about trying to get back there,” Peterson said of the possibility of returning to the Frozen Four. “It couldn’t be a better feeling. It’s just something that we want really bad as a group.” 

The Terriers are facing a new-look Minnesota group this time around, too. Former stars Brock Faber, Matthew Knies and Logan Cooley are all earning their keep in the NHL this season. It’s no reason to underestimate the talent in their current lineup, though. 

“They play the same way they played last year. Most teams are going to stick to their structure,” BU head coach Jay Pandolfo said Friday. “They’re a patient team, they’re opportunistic, they have very good sticks…We’ve got to be aware of that.” 

Pandolfo said he expects the lineup to be the same as it was against RIT despite some line shuffling at the end of Thursday’s game. All players are healthy – enough – and available to play. 

Five things to know about the Gophers: 

  • Minnesota advanced to the regional final with a 3-2 win over Omaha Thursday night. The Gophers are working for their third consecutive Frozen Four appearance. They have 18 roster players with NCAA Tournament experience. 
  • Sophomore forward Jimmy Snuggerud leads Minnesota in goals with 21. Snuggerud is on the second line with sophomore Connor Kurth and freshman Oliver Moore. A team-leading six of his goals have come on the power play. 
  • Graduate student Justen Close is expected to get the start against the Terriers. The goaltender has a 2.24 goals-against average and .927 save percentage through 36 games this season. Close posted 24 stops against Omaha on Thursday. 
  • Minnesota’s power-play percentage is ranked 14th in the nation at .232 and has scored 26 power-play goals this season. The Gophers’ .795 penalty kill percentage is good for 35th in the nation with 18 goals against. 
  • Junior forward Rhett Pitlick leads the team in points with 35 (19 goals, 16 assists). The winger is skating on the third line with junior Aaron Huglen and sophomore Brody Lamb. 

Puck drop is set for 6:30 p.m. ET for the teams’ 10th meeting in the NCAA postseason. The Boston Hockey Blog will have full, on-the-ground coverage of the regional final, so be sure to follow along on Twitter (X) @BOShockeyblog and Instagram

One Comment

  1. i just can not for the life of me understand how a team could be dealing with effort issues this time of year: ” The first period was flawed – turnovers, miscommunication and lackadaisical effort in the neutral zone supplied RIT with plenty of early, high-danger looks. ”

    Not sure how you clean this up at this point in the season. as the teams we face become more skilled, this will be our undoing. only so many times you can leave Caron out to dry.