The No. 9 Boston University men’s hockey team looked for a bounce-back outing Sunday evening in the second of two matchups against the No. 5 University of Michigan Wolverines. Following a 9-2 blowout on Friday, the Terriers (2-1-0) responded with a resounding 3-2 victory over the Wolverines (3-1-0) on the road Sunday night.
After surrendering six goals on 19 shots on Friday, junior goaltender Drew Commesso was unavailable Sunday due to an injury. This placed junior goaltender Vinny Duplessis in the starting role, which led to a stellar performance en route to victory.
In addition to Duplessis, the Terriers received contributions throughout the entire lineup. Junior defenseman Cade Webber scored his first collegiate goal in 48 games. Physical efforts from the entire group, especially junior forward Luke Tuch and senior forward Sam Stevens, helped frustrate a high-flying Wolverines squad.
“Great road win by our guys,” head coach Jay Pandolfo said following the victory. “After what happened the other night, to come back out tonight and play that way is a big character win for our group.”
Despite an early tally from Michigan freshman forward T.J. Hughes, the Terriers carried over their strong first period five-on-five play from Friday night. Even though the Terriers had a 10-8 shot advantage and a number of high-danger chances in the first period, BU was unable to solve Michigan junior goaltender Erik Portillo.
Similar to Friday night, the Terriers had to fend off the deadly Michigan man-advantage. Midway through the first period, captain and senior forward Domenick Fensore and freshman forward Jeremy Wilmer took successive minor penalties, forcing the Terriers to kill off a five-on-three for 39 seconds.
“We were more disciplined, we still can get better at that,” Pandolfo said. “The end result was what we wanted.”
After strong five-on-five play early in the second period, the Terriers found the equalizer. Freshman forward Ryan Greene found Webber bursting towards the net for a two-on-one to even up the contest at 6:56 of the middle frame.
“I knew [Greene] saw me so I anticipated a little bit … I was thinking that he was going to give it to me and he put it right there for me and luckily it went home,” Webber said. “To be honest, I didn’t even know it went in.”
The contest did not stay even for long as Michigan collected their fourth power-play goal of the weekend. Wolverine sophomore forward Dylan Duke was able to find the wide-open back of the net on a de-facto five-on-three after senior forward Ethan Philips had lost his stick further up ice.
The Terriers showed their resolve, though, finding the equalizer less than two minutes later. Fensore’s wrister from the point made its way past Portillo to tie the game once again and continue the dogfight.
From that point on, the Terriers did not look back. Senior forward Matt Brown buried his second goal of the year after a slick feed from senior forward Jay O’Brien, giving the Terriers their first lead of the weekend. With their second power-play goal of the night, the Terriers had turned special teams in their favor.
BU carried their lead into the third period, where their physicality continued to frustrate Michigan. After avoiding a late push by the Wolverines, the Terriers heard a victorious final buzzer, earning themselves a weekend split against a top opponent.
“We have a good, sound defensive structure,” Webber said. “I think when we kill plays and play fast, no team in the country can play with us.”
The strong bounce-back effort was headlined by a strong performance by Duplessis, who stepped up in another high-stakes game, stopping 31 of 33 shots.
“Vinny’s a gamer,” Pandolfo said. “He’s always ready … Anytime we put him in there, he’s going to do the job for us. He did that again tonight.”
The Terriers will have another tough matchup this weekend, where they will be welcomed back home to Agganis Arena to face the undefeated University of Connecticut Huskies. With momentum in their favor heading into Hockey East play, the Terriers are looking to maintain their hot start to the season.
“Even with the 9-2 loss on Friday, we still had some confidence coming in today,” Duplessis said. “A win like this is unreal. We’ve got to keep it going and can’t take it for granted.”