Hockey, Ice Hockey, NCAA, Sports

BU men’s hockey sweeps Minutemen in a home and home

The Boston University men’s hockey team came away with two wins over the University of Massachusetts Amherst in its second series of the season. The Terriers bested the Minutemen 4-2 Sunday at the Mullins Center and left Walter Brown Arena with a 4-3 overtime win Monday.

At the start of the week, BU was slated to battle UMass Lowell, but COVID-19 cases inside the River Hawks’ program led to a schedule change. At one point, it appeared the Terriers were out of luck finding a partner for the weekend. Fortunately, the Minutemen were cleared to play for the first time since Jan. 6. Their schedules were modified to link BU and UMass up for a rare Sunday/Monday home and home.

Senior defenseman David Farrance in a game against the University of Massachusetts Lowell Jan. 25, 2020. Farrance scored the winning goal in overtime Sunday against the University of Massachusetts Amherst, securing the series for the Terriers. EMILY HUNTER/ DFP FILE

In the first game of the series, the Terriers were opportunistic and took advantage of Minutemen miscues. Freshman forward Dylan Peterson got the scoring started — the goal was halfway through the period and was Peterson’s first collegiate score.

UMass would respond with an even-strength goal from junior defenseman Ty Farmer to tie the score at one a side. But late in the period, an ill-advised cross check by sophomore defenseman Alex Vlasic brought out the Minutemen power play unit. Redshirt senior forward Carson Gicewicz rocketed a shot from the slot to give UMass a 2-1 lead with under a minute remaining in the first.

Outside of Peterson’s finish, UMass dictated the pace of play. For the first 20 minutes, the Minutemen showed the Terriers why they were the sixth-ranked team in the nation. UMass outshot BU 13 to one.

But in the second period, the Terriers started to add more offensive spark. Looking to make a play in the neutral zone, senior forward Logan Cockerill stole the puck near the red line and was off to the races. While being interfered with, Cockerill pulled off a nifty backhand to beat senior goaltender Matt Murray and tie the game at two.

That play gave the Terriers the jump they needed. On a power play later in the period, senior defenseman David Farrance snapped home his second goal of the season. His score from the point reclaimed the lead for BU, and they were up 3-2 heading into the third.

In the final period, freshman goaltender Drew Commesso was phenomenal in net for the Terriers. The Minutemen peppered the netminder with 12 shots and drew three penalties in the third period. Commesso stood tall and confident while his teammates played in their defensive zone for most of the period. He would finish with 33 saves on 35 shots.

A crucial play in the contest was Cockerill corralling a loose puck while on the penalty kill. As he gathered speed, he passed two defenders and again beat Murray on a breakaway. The score gave Commesso and BU some needed breathing room.

The Terriers were able to stave off any Minutemen comeback plans and leave Amherst with a 4-2 win.

“We really just had to simplify our game,” Cockerill said at a press conference Sunday. “We were trying to go through three or four people, so Albie [O’Connell] came in and yelled at us a little a bit, but then calmed it down and just told us exactly what we needed to do.”

During Monday’s match at Walter Brown Arena, Peterson would again get the scoring started for the Terriers. But UMass would respond toward the end of the first period with very aggressive play, offensively and defensively. The score would be 1-1 after sophomore forward Cal Kiefiuk potted a score for the Minutemen at the end of the first.

The second period was dominated by UMass. Their forwards made it difficult for BU to get anything going offensively. Multiple bodies in front of the crease caused a distraction for Commesso. Gicewicz lit the lamp for the tenth time this season, while senior forward Jake Gaudet added his second goal of the campaign. BU was down 3-1 heading into the third. 

But not even a minute into the third period, Gaudet would be called for a major penalty and game misconduct after hitting Cockerill. Fifteen seconds into the major, sophomore defenseman Domenick Fensore snapped home a score, cutting UMass’ lead to one. That would be all the scoring BU could muster on the major penalty.

Later on, freshman forward Luke Tuch made a great read on the wall to get the puck to line-mate Wilmer Skoog in the slot. The sophomore forward Skoog then rifled one past Murray to knot the game up at three a piece.

After Commesso made some terrific stops, UMass and BU were headed to something new for college hockey: three-on-three overtime. In the extra session, freshman forward Nick Zabaneh beautifully laid a breakout pass to Farrance who buried the puck through Murray’s five-hole for the win.

Early on this season, Farrance continues to rack up points — he has tallied three goals and five assists through four games. He has picked up right where he left off last season, when he was a finalist for the Hobey Baker Memorial Award.

BU improved to 3-1 for the season after their 4-3 overtime victory. The Terriers are scheduled to play the University of Maine on Friday at Walter Brown Arena.

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