By Gracie Davenport
No. 5 Boston University Men’s Hockey (16-6-0, 10-4-0 HE) ran away with a 5-1 victory over the University of Maine Black Bears (9-11-0, 3-7-1 HE) Friday night in Game 3 of the five-game homestand at Agganis Arena. 13 different Terriers got on the scoresheet, but the Black Bears stayed in the physical matchup all night.
Just after the opening face-off, the BU power play got its first look of the night as senior forward Wilmer Skoog drew a holding penalty. With time winding down on the quiet man advantage, it would be the Terriers’ first shot on net that gave them the early 1-0 lead.
Freshman forward Jeremy Wilmer passed the puck from the top of the right circle to freshman forward Ryan Greene in the slot. From there, Greene pivoted around and dished it to junior forward Luke Tuch, who was open backdoor. Standing ready on the goal line, Tuch notched his fifth of the season.
Two minutes later, the power play was given another look.
Back-checking hard to retrieve the puck in his defensive zone, senior captain Domenick Fensore was checked hard from behind by two Maine players. Fensore remained down on the ice while play continued.
On the ensuing delayed call, senior forward Matt Brown capitalized for his 10th of the year to double BU’s lead. In transition, Skoog passed the puck up the ice to Brown who put it past Maine goaltender Victor Östman to make it 2-0.
Following the hit, Fensore quickly returned to the game, but the defenseman was not on the bench in the third period.
“I haven’t gotten a full report yet,” Pandolfo said on Fensore. “I don’t know if it was precautionary or not, so we’ll have to re-evaluate and see how he is tomorrow.”
After the Brown goal, Maine freshman forward Thomas Freel was assessed a five-minute major and a game misconduct for checking from behind.
BU led in shots on net 12-2 with seven minutes remaining in the first period. Although Commesso was not facing consistent action, he bailed out his team amid a flurry of turnovers, including one by Gallagher that led to a Black Bear breakaway.
“I didn’t think our execution was very good tonight, especially through the neutral zone,” Pandolfo said. “We were turning way too many pucks over in our own end.”
Following a slow start, the Black Bears found their footing in the latter half of the game.
Having zero NHL-drafted players, Maine might not have the flashiest lineup in contrast to BU’s third-most in the NCAA. However, the team from up north played through adversity and kept themselves in the game.
“They really outplayed us in the second period,” Pandolfo said. “They got that goal on a delayed penalty. I thought our penalty kill was really good, but overall execution was not great tonight.”
Despite not possessing a defensively sound game, the Terriers continued to add to their lead in the middle frame. Junior forward Nick Zabaneh made it 3-0 off a feed from senior forward Sam Stevens.
Stevens forced a Maine turnover at the blue line and carried the puck into his offensive zone. Approaching Östman, Stevens waited out a Black Bear defender and found Zabaneh crashing the net.
“Amazing play,” Zabaneh said. “Kind of drive the net and hope [Stevens] gets it there. Skilled play by him, and just happy to finish it off.”
The Terriers added another at the 9:23 mark, this time by senior forward Jay O’Brien. Freshman defenseman Lane Hutson showed his patience at the blue line before executing the drop pass to O’Brien. The assistant captain’s shot from the right point made it through several bodies in front of Östman and into the back of the net.
The goal was challenged by Maine, but the call on the ice stood. Senior defenseman Case McCarthy was credited with the other assist as Hutson picked up his second of the night.
The Black Bears potted their first and only goal in the final minutes of the period. On a delayed call, they pulled their goaltender and scored with the extra attacker. Sophomore forward Cole Hanson scored his sixth of the season off a slick wrister from the high slot.
In the final frame, the Black Bears continued to put pressure on the Terriers, but the deficit was too great to come back from.
Freshman forward Devin Kaplan’s recent promotion to BU’s top line has ignited his offensive game. On the final goal of the night, he earned his seventh of the season on a delayed Maine holding call.
“It’s pretty easy to play with those two. They have a simple style,” Brown said on playing on the top line with Kaplan and Skoog. “I’ve been skating with [Kaplan] since he was eight, so we have a little chemistry there.”
Commesso made 30 saves to earn his 12th win of the season. In his next game, the netminder will look to tie his career-high 13 wins, despite playing 11 fewer games this season.
“Drew’s been solid. Versus Cornell, they had a ton of chances around the net and again tonight,” Pandolfo said. “He just seems to keep getting better. I can tell he’s got a ton of confidence right now.”
The Terriers will try to improve their all-around play as they finish off the weekend home series with a second game against Maine Saturday night at Agganis Arena. Puck drop will be at 6 p.m., and the game will be available for streaming on ESPN+.