The Boston University men’s hockey team debuted its 2021 season with a two-game split against the Providence College Friars. The Terriers dropped their first game in Boston 3-7, but took game two in Providence 6-4.
Before this weekend’s series against the Friars, it had been 309 days since the Terriers took the ice. When the players skated out of Agganis Arena on March 7, they may not have imagined multiple games would be canceled at the start of the 2020-2021 campaign, pushing their start to January.
The Friars are ranked No. 16 in the NCAA and had eight games under their belt heading into this weekend, but BU managed to split the series with them.
Before the puck was dropped in the Terrier’s home opener, there was a ceremony to honor the lives of two BU hockey icons who died last Fall: Jack Kelley and Travis Roy.
Kelley was a BU defenseman from 1949 to 1952 and the program’s head coach from 1962 to 1972. During his tenure, the Terriers captured back-to-back National Championships — in 1971 and 1972 — and he led the program to four Final Fours and six Beanpot titles.
Roy was a freshman for the Terriers in the fall of 1995. On his first collegiate shift, he became paralyzed after crashing into the boards. Although his career as a hockey player lasted only 11 seconds, Roy would become an influential advocate for others suffering from spinal cord injuries.
To honor each former Terrier, players wore a patch of Kelley raising his fist in victory and a patch with Roy’s initials and uniform number, 24, on their jerseys.
Once the first game began at Walter Brown Arena, BU found the back of the net early and often. Sophomore forward Jay O’Brien, sophomore defenseman Sean Driscoll and freshman forward Luke Tuch all picked up goals, and BU found themselves up 3-1 in the second period. Despite the early lead, the Friars pounced on the Terriers and exposed their rust.
Providence scored five unanswered goals to better BU 7-3. Terriers head coach Albie O’Connell pulled freshman goaltender Drew Commesso from the contest after Providence’s sixth goal. In his first collegiate start, Commesso made 38 saves on 43 shots.
The Friars finished with 54 shots on net to the Terriers’ 21.
While BU struggled to slow down Providence’s attack, the Terries had some offensive bright spots. Tuch grabbed two points, including his first collegiate goal. Additionally, senior defenseman David Farrance tallied two assists.
With some heavy hits and chippy plays from both teams, the Terriers started off their game in Schneider Arena the next day almost as if they lost 7-3 to the same team the night before.
Redshirt junior forward Ty Amonte quickly got the Terriers on the board after a slick feed from Farrance. Soon after — on the power play — Farrance tallied his first goal of the season. With another chance on the man advantage, an O’Brien one timer ballooned the Terrier’s lead to 3-0.
Providence responded with a pair of goals, stealing the momentum. Looking to avoid giving up the equalizer, senior captain Logan Cockerill stole a pass near the blue line and was off to the races. On a breakaway, with no Friar to impede him, Cockerill beat sophomore goaltender Jaxson Staubner to reclaim a two-goal advantage for the Terriers.
In the second period, the teams traded goals until Providence junior Matt Koopman corralled a loose puck and snuck a shot past Commesso.
The final period was a defensive struggle that left both teams in search of consistent offense. The Friars pulled their goalie with less than two minutes remaining, still trailing by one. With mere seconds on the clock, Cockerill buried an empty-net score, ending the game 6-4 and marking the Terriers’ first win in over 300 days.
The Terrier’s next contest will be at home against the University of Massachusetts Lowell River Hawks Jan. 15. This series is still uncertain — UMass Lowell’s team had to reschedule three games this week due to positive COVID-19 results in the program.