In the final exhibition contest of the winter break, the Boston University men’s hockey team traveled to USA Hockey Arena in Plymouth, Michigan and took down the USA Under-18 squad 4-3 in a shootout Friday.
Three BU commits, forwards Luke Tuch and Dylan Peterson and goaltender Drew Commesso, took the ice for Team USA to face their future teammates during Friday’s matchup.
BU head coach Albie O’Connell said he felt positive about having the highly-touted recruits join the Terriers after seeing them compete against his team.
“[It was] exciting,” O’Connell said. “All three of them, I thought [they] played well.”
O’Connell was most impressed by Peterson and Tuch’s skill and ability to compete against the Terriers.
“Peterson is a monster,” O’Connell said. “[Peterson and Tuch] will be able to step in right away and give us good games. They both play hard, they’re both big and they both have ability.”
The Terriers came into the contest with a 7-1-1 all-time record against the U-18’s, taking last year’s matchup at Agganis Arena by a score of 5-4 in overtime. Graduate goaltender Sam Tucker got the call in net for the Terriers while Commesso was between the pipes for the U-18’s.
BU had two power play opportunities in the first period, but failed to capitalize on either chance. The opening frame ended with no score as Tucker stopped all eight shots he faced, including two breakaway stops, while Commesso came up with 12 saves.
The second period saw more chances and more offense from both teams. On the 6:59 mark of the second period, Tuch opened the scoring by finishing off a 2-on-1 rush with fellow forward Landon Slaggert from the bottom of the left faceoff circle to put the U-18’s up 1-0.
“The goal that Tuch scored was terrific,” O’Connell said.
Shortly after, the Terriers got their third power play chance of the night as U-18 forward Brett Berard went off for unsportsmanlike conduct. Freshman forward Ethan Phillips tied things up at one goal per team on the power play at the 10:33 mark of the second period. Freshman forward Wilmer Skoog and sophomore forward Matthew Quercia were credited with assists.
BU immediately went on to attack again as graduate forward Alex Brink potted his first goal in scarlet and white when he picked up a rebound in front of Commesso just 41 seconds after Phillips’ assist. Sophomore forward Jack DeBoer and freshman defenseman Alex Vlasic earned the assists on Brink’s goal.
Late in the second, Chase Yoder answered for Team USA, tying the game at 2-2 off a feed from forwards Matthew Beniers and Berard. The tie would hold at the end of two periods.
Early in the third period, Yoder picked up his second of the game just 5:22 into the frame after finding the puck in a messy scramble in front of Tucker’s goal off a shot by Daniel Laatsch from the point, putting the U-18’s up 3-2. Berard notched his second assist of the night with the secondary helper.
In more than the halfway mark of the third period, BU senior forward and captain Patrick Curry was whistled for elbowing, but the Terriers were able to make a key penalty kill. Curry redeemed himself with less than five minutes remaining in regulation, tying the game at three with an unassisted goal.
O’Connell said the senior captain had to get back into the rhythm of the game after the long break. Curry played for the first time since BU’s win over Northeastern on Dec. 7
“Curry looked like he was scraping a little rust off,” O’Connell said.
With the game tied 3-3 at the end of regulation, the Terriers and U-18’s went on to play a five minutes of five-on-five overtime, followed by five minutes of three-on-three, but neither team could find the deciding goal.
After over 70 minutes of regulation and overtime, Tucker had stopped 30 of 33 shots and Commesso had 38 saves on 41 shots.
O’Connell was especially impressed by his future goaltender.
“Commesso was probably one of the best players on the ice,” O’Connell said.
Scoreless after the extra 10 minutes, the game went to a shootout.
Skoog, in just his second game as a Terrier, scored before junior defenseman Kasper Kotkansalo put one past Commesso to win the game for BU. Tucker stopped one of two shooters he faced in the shootout while Commesso stopped senior forward Patrick Harper.
O’Connell said the opportunity to see his team play three-on-three and in shootouts was great, but that these chances do not come often.
“It would be awesome [to have a shootout and three-on-three] more often,” O’Connell said. “The fans would love it. Our guys on our bench were excited.”
Like Curry, other veterans including Harper, junior defensemen Cam Crotty and David Farrance also returned to action against the U-18’s.
O’Connell said the team needs to get back into its routine after the winter break.
“They’ve just got to shake a little bit of rust off. It was their first game in a long time,” O’Connell said. “Overall, it’s an exhibition game, but it’s a good practice.”
The Terriers will move on to face Brown University Wednesday night at Agganis Arena in their return to competitive game action. Puck-drop is slated for 7 p.m.