Hockey, Ice Hockey, NCAA, Sports

UMass Lowell upsets Terriers 2-1 in Hockey East quarterfinals

A week after beating the University of Massachusetts Lowell River Hawks (9-8-1) in a shootout, the Boston University men’s ice hockey team (10-4-1) lost 2-1 in regulation Sunday, ending their Hockey East tournament run after one game.

The decisive play came 8:19 into the third period, with the game tied at one. A miscommunication behind the net between sophomore defensemen Domenick Fensore and Case McCarthy allowed Lowell junior forward Reid Stefanson to gain possession of the puck.

boston university men's hockey team against providence college
Boston University men’s hockey team in a Nov. 8, 2019 game against Providence College. The Terriers lost 2-1 to the University of Massachusetts Lowell in the Hockey East quarterfinals Sunday. COURTESY OF MATT WOOLVERTON

His pass bounced off the skate of his teammate, sophomore forward Andre Lee, and landed in the left faceoff circle, where forward Brian Chambers was all alone to bury a shot past freshman goaltender Drew Commesso’s glove side.

“We said it from day one: If you turn pucks over at your blue line or their blue line,” BU head coach Albie O’Connell said post-game Sunday, “a lot of times that’s how you lose seasons.”

Lowell ultimately outshot the Terriers 29-17 in shots on goal, but with BU blocking 20 shots and Commesso making tricky saves in net, the game remained close.

Sophomore forward Jamie Armstrong scored the first goal of the game and the only goal for the Terriers, and Commesso made 27 saves. Five River Hawk skaters got on the scoresheet with one point apiece while freshman goaltender Henry Welsch picked up the win with 16 saves.

An odd man rush led by Terrier freshman forward Dylan Peterson sparked the first goal just 2:17 into the game. Using his speed to get behind the defense, Peterson crossed the puck to Armstrong trailing on the left side. Armstrong pushed the puck in at the doorstep to give the Terriers a 1-0 lead.

Lowell responded quickly — just over two minutes later, Lowell junior defenseman Jon McDonald fired a shot from the blue line. Commesso stopped it with his pad, but with no one marking forward Matt Brown, the sophomore knocked in the rebound to knot the score at 1-1.

“We basically gift-wrapped them two goals,” O’Connell said. “You can’t do that if you want to win a championship.”

BU dominated possession to start the second period — 5:36 passed before Lowell recorded their first shot on goal of the period.

The River Hawks picked back up with the offensive pressure, but the Terriers were successful getting in front of shots, leading to a 14-3 blocked shot count through two periods.

Lowell was unable to capitalize on two power play chances early in the third, but Chambers scored the go-ahead strike shortly after the second opportunity expired. 

The Terriers had more success with their zone entries with time running out, but Lowell responded without giving up dangerous chances. With 1:26 remaining, BU pulled Commesso to bring out the extra skater.

The Terriers generated a handful of chances, but Lowell held on to secure the 2-1 victory.

“They were really difficult to play [against],” O’Connell said, “especially when they got the lead, they clamped it down pretty tight.”

Now the Terriers have to wait a week to learn the fate of their season. O’Connell said he believes the Terriers have made their case to be selected for the NCAA tournament, citing the Terriers’ success in the Hockey East and how the team has overcome the complications brought on by the pandemic.

“It’s our 15th game this year, and it’s the playoffs, so it’s a weird feeling,” O’Connell said. “I think the locker room’s pretty bummed out about the result, but hopefully we’re still playing hockey.”

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