ALBANY, N.Y. — The Boston University men’s ice hockey team faced St. Cloud State University Saturday in the NCAA men’s hockey championship at the Times Union Center in Albany, New York. The Huskies bested the Terriers 6-2 in the Northeast Regional Semifinal, ending BU’s season.
The first period of tournament hockey began with neither team able to establish a rhythm. But at 9:08 of the first, BU freshman forward Dylan Peterson was sent to the box for a hit from behind and charged with a five-minute major and game misconduct — Peterson was not allowed to return.
Despite the major, BU’s power play kill held strong behind freshman goaltender Drew Commesso’s nine saves through the five minutes. St. Cloud ultimately outshot BU 14-10 through the first 20 minutes of play.
The second period opened with an immediate shot on goal by sophomore forward Wilmer Skoog, good for the first lead of the game. Skoog’s goal at the 19:52 mark of the second period was just the beginning of an eventual five-goal period.
BU held the momentum for the majority of the period. Then, a bizarre miscue turned the tide for the Huskies. While players of both squads were vying for the puck behind the crease, the rubber popped out from the scramble and landed at the stick of St. Cloud junior forward Micah Miller, who put the puck past an unsuspecting Commesso and evened the score at one.
“Their first goal was one for the ages,” BU head coach Albie O’Connell said. “That was about as strange as you get … I don’t think any goalie in the world would have saved that one.”
A little more than a minute later, St. Cloud scored another goal on the back of junior defenseman Nick Perbix. The Huskies went up 2-1 with 6:31 to go in the second.
Skating with its first lead, Huskies sophomore forward Jami Krannila committed a slashing penalty, setting up a power-play advantage for the Terriers. Boston junior forward Jake Wise skated into BU’s offensive zone and found the back of the net on a one-timer.
However, the once-again tied game was short-lived, as St. Cloud senior forward Easton Brodzinski responded for his squad 32 seconds later.
Entering the third period, and down by a score of 3-2, the Terriers attempted to close the gap with offensive opportunities. Huskies sophomore forward Chase Brand tossed an elbow to the face of Terriers sophomore forward Jay O’Brien. The major penalty was called, and Brand was ejected.
In the opening minute of the five-minute man advantage, St. Cloud’s Krannila found himself on a breakaway opportunity. When his chance was obstructed by senior forward Logan Cockerill, Kranilla was awarded and capitalized upon a penalty shot.
“The fourth goal, I don’t know, it looked like a good play by our guy to be honest with you,” O’Connell said. “I think that was the turning point of the game, 100%. I thought Cockerill made a good play on it.”
The Terriers ultimately could not take advantage of the five-minute man-advantage and hemorrhaged another goal by Brodzinski as the third period reached the halfway mark. Freshman forward Veeti Miettinen joined in on the offensive onslaught with less than five minutes left in the third.
“I think our guys have had a very difficult challenge,” O’Connell said. “I told the guys I was really proud of the way they handled themselves on the ice, off the ice, and trying to keep themselves in a spot where they could play when we had so many times where there were some ups and downs.”
The 6-2 scoreline would hold for a St. Cloud victory. The Huskies will face No. 1 seeded Boston College, whose first-round regional matchup against University of Notre Dame was canceled after the Fighting Irish withdrew with Tier-1 personnel positive COVID-19 tests.
The Regional Semifinal is BU’s first NCAA Tournament appearance since the Terriers fell to University of Michigan in the 2018 Northeast Regional Finals. The Terriers concluded their season at 10-5-1, falling to University of Massachusetts Lowell in the Hockey East Tournament Quarterfinals March 14.
“We really look forward to the future,” O’Connell said. “I know it’s tough to say that right now, the loss will sting for a bit. But I’m proud of the way we battled through all the adversity.”