Game Recaps

Terriers fall 2-1 in overtime of Frozen Four semifinal to Denver

Photo by Gracie Davenport.

Mathieu Caron sat beside the right post of his net — head down, arms at his side, frozen. The junior goaltender sat unmoved for five minutes, trying to process the puck that slipped through his legs and off the metal in the back of the goal. Around him, five other Terriers also stood, frozen.

The Terriers’ season was over.

Caron played what was certainly his best game in the scarlet and white. It might have been the best performance of his career. There are a myriad of saves one could point to, each more impressive than the next. After 71 minutes and 9 seconds of hockey, the Denver Pioneers had three players bearing down on a rush, and Caron had no more bailouts left.

“I thought he played unbelievable,” graduate student and captain Case McCarthy said. “Probably be on SportsCenter a couple times tomorrow morning. He kept us in the hockey game especially late in the second when they made their push.”

The Terriers (28-9-2) fell to the Pioneers (30-9-3) in overtime of the Frozen Four semifinal game at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul on Thursday evening by a score of 2-1, ending BU’s run two wins short of college hockey’s holy grail.

“Tonight, the margin of error in these one-and-dones is very slim. We made some mistakes that cost us,” head coach Jay Pandolfo said. “There’s no tomorrow for us.”

Graduate forward Sam Stevens lined up for the opening face-off. Every Terrier on the ice during puck drop was at the Frozen Four last year. For a team highlighted by its freshman class that fills eight roster spots, including a potent freshman top line, the five men on the ice knew the feeling of disappointment, the feeling of a season ending on the cusp of history.

They also knew what it felt like to dig an early grave just too deep to climb out of as the coffin closed on the 2023 season with a 6-2 loss to Minnesota. The mission was simple: start hot, stay hot.

The BU defense suffocated the nation’s top offensive unit in the opening frame. Whether it was the Terriers’ physicality pushing the Pioneers off pucks or disruptive sticks breaking up passes, Denver looked uncomfortable, firing off only three shots in the first 20 minutes.

Photo by Gracie Davenport.

BU’s senior forward Nick Zabaneh was called for high-sticking at 5:58 of the first period, but the Terriers continued to push the Pioneers out of rhythm. 

In the closing seconds of the penalty, senior forward Luke Tuch took the puck off the boards on a clear from freshman defenseman Gavin McCarthy. Tuch picked up speed, outskating the Pioneers and sending a short-handed laser tight on Davis’ glove side that rattled around the cage for an early 1-0 lead.

The Terriers continued to apply pressure during the second period, knocking on the door so hard the hinges nearly fell off. However, shots too wide or passes too tall kept their second tally off the board.

“I thought we shot ourselves in the foot a little bit by not continuing to play behind them,” Pandolfo said. “I would have liked to see us bear down and get a two-goal lead, but it didn’t happen. They got some life at the end of the second, and that was a big momentum change.”

The defense continued to stifle Denver early in the period, but the Pioneers don’t need much time and don’t need much space — one small mistake can wipe away 35 minutes of effort. 

BU sophomore defenseman Lane Hutson was looking to clear the puck in the defensive end, but the pass was too soft and hit the tape of Denver’s Miko Matikka. The freshman quickly slotted it to sophomore forward Tristan Lemyre, whose shot leaked into the net behind Caron at 4:39 of the second. 

Denver took the driver’s seat in the final minutes of the period, buying real estate in its offensive third. This culminated in a Pioneers 2-on-1 breakaway where junior forward Jack Devine slipped the puck to sophomore forward Aidan Thompson who had the whole net — until Caron jumped across the crease, spinning out with the puck firmly in his mitt for a near-impossible save.

The third period was a ping-pong match with each team exchanging opportunities and each goaltender flashing the leather. 

The Terriers survived two penalties early — one assessed to Willander at 2:59 of the period for tripping and another to freshman forward Jack Harvey for the same call at 8:44. BU’s discipline was falling apart when the stakes were the highest in a strikingly similar fashion to last year’s semifinal defeat.

While the Terriers were put on the penalty kill four times throughout the contest, the Pioneers avoided such a fate.

“I don’t know. You guys watched the game. I don’t know if there were any penalties out there or not, but we didn’t get on the power play at all. They got on four times,” Pandolfo said. “That’s not the reason we lost the game. We have to find ways to put teams away 5-on-5, and we didn’t do that.”

BU’s best opportunity came with less than five minutes remaining in regulation when Harvey shot a missile that exploded on the left post, keeping the championship bid just inches from the Terriers’ grasp.

With 1:13 left in the third, BU senior forward Dylan Peterson and Denver’s Sean Behrens were hunting a loose puck when Peterson laid a high hit on the junior blueliner into the boards. While it was reviewed for a major, Peterson went to the box for a two-minute minor. 

The BU penalty kill remained strong to send the game to a sudden-death overtime with a trip to the national championship game on the line.

Photo by Gracie Davenport.

“I thought it was excellent from the goalie on out. They were sacrificing,” Pandolfo said. “We were pretty confident that they were going to get the job done. And then the one save that Caron made was incredible.”

To the unbiased observer, Thursday night’s early game was a spectacle, an instant classic you tell your children about. To those with a leaning, it was a game that took inches off of fingernails and years off of lives. 

The teams went punch for punch in overtime. Each golden opportunity brought anticipated ecstasy or despair. Margins for error weren’t slim, they were miniscule, and the first team to crack would be the first team going home. 

For the Terriers, it was a turnover. Three Pioneers rushed across the ice against graduate defenseman Cade Webber and a trailing Willander off the bench. Junior forward Tristan Broz angled his body before firing the puck. Siren. Game.

The Terriers’ season comes to a close, and for several players on the team, it will be the last time wearing Boston across their chest. As Case McCarthy put it, the 2024 Terriers were “a special group of people.”

“It’s special when you have a group like that. It makes coming to the rink everyday a lot of fun,” the captain said. “Building those relationships with guys is something that I’m going to hold onto for the rest of my life.”


  1. This game was a microcosm of the season. Early domination, great goaltending, a lapse in focus, inability to score enough and put games away, and a slew of sometimes stupid penalties. This game had all that albeit vs a very talented denver team that still in my view were ripe for the taking. The terriers just didn’t take it. This happened also in the beanpot, letting teams off the hook and beating themselves. There was also the matter of penalties. Denver wasn’t called for any but good for them to have the discipline not to take them. The only argument I would have was in the OT when they broke the sti k of a terrier. That would have been big but you had the feeling that this result was pre destined, that the terriers were not the best team in the nation and they would not win this tourney just like they failed in tje beanpot and HE tourney. All in all though I would say a successful season, especially the consecutive frozen four appearances which has again put BU hockey among the elite programs in the nation. Our biggest rival BC is the best once again and we’ll see if they can finish the job Saturday night.

    • It was a great ride, it’s not the result, it’s the journey that’s important. I just hope we can keep Pando and he doesn’t jump to the NHL like Quinn.

  2. Such an empty feeling

  3. Proud of this group of kids played hard all year