Men’s Hockey: No. 3 Terriers Fall 3-1 to No. 20 Northeastern in Beanpot Semifinals

By Michael Wax

No. 3 Boston University Men’s Hockey (20-7-0, 14-4-0 HE) fell 3-1 to the No. 20 Northeastern University Huskies (14-10-3, 11-5-2 HE) in the semifinal matchup of the 70th annual Beanpot. 

“I thought it took us a while to get going,” BU Head Coach Jay Pandolfo said. “For whatever reason, we weren’t ready to play. I thought we were turning way too many away pucks over in the neutral zone. … Give [Northeastern] credit. They played very well. They had a plan and they stuck to it and it worked for them.”

After facing off in the Beanpot for the fifth consecutive year, the Huskies now hold a 4-1 advantage in Beanpot matchups over the Terriers over that time.

Senior defenseman Case McCarthy returned to the lineup for BU after a one-game absence, giving the Terriers a full-strength blue line.

The Terriers, who came into the Beanpot with a nation-best 4.23 goals per game, had no answers for Huskies junior goalie Devon Levi. The Huskie netminder made 33 saves, his best being a glove save on senior forward Wilmer Skoog in the third.

“Devon’s gonna stop any puck that he sees,” Northeastern captain Aidan McDonough said. “So we try to make it easy on him.”

Northeastern got the game’s first goal with six minutes left to play in the first. After some pressure from NU, BU started a breakout out of the zone but quickly turned the puck over at the blue line. Several Terriers were already in the neutral zone, which created a 3-on-2 situation for Northeastern. Freshman forward Jack Williams got the puck over to freshman defenseman Vinny Borgesi, who in turn got the puck over to McDonough. Transitioning from backhand to forehand, McDonough beat the outstretched Drew Commesso for the 1-0 lead.

“I don’t remember too much how it got to me,” McDonough said. “I had pretty much half the net open. It was a great play by [Borgesi].”

BU headed into the first intermission trailing 1-0 on the scoreboard and 10-8 on the shot counter.

Northeastern doubled their lead just under two minutes into the second period. Senior defenseman Jeremie Bucheler put the puck on net, and Commesso knocked the shot down to his goal crease. In a mad scramble towards the loose puck, grad student forward Jakov Novak reached it first and potted his seventh goal of the season to make it 2-0.

Commesso provided the night’s highlight for the Terriers, keeping the game at 2-0 with a sprawling save on senior forward Riley Hughes.

“I thought [Commesso] was excellent tonight,” Pandolfo said.

Despite the fact that BU had two power plays in the second frame, the Terriers went into the second intermission trailing 2-0 on the scoreboard and 22-18 on the shot counter.

Overall, BU went 0-for-4 on the power play, even as they came into the game with a 22.1% conversion rate.

“Our power play let us down as well,” Pandolfo said. “Those are the games you need your power play to score.”

Senior forward Matt Brown cut the deficit to 2-1 with a goal with 1:51 to go. With BU pressing, senior defenseman and captain Dom Fensore got the puck over to Brown, whose shot found its way past Levi to make it a one-goal game. Fensore and freshman defenseman Lane Hutson assisted Brown’s 13th goal of the season.

Hunter McDonald sealed the game with an empty net goal for NU, the first goal of his collegiate career.

“Just keep playing the right way, and you get rewarded,” McDonald said. “It’s really cool to score my first one in the Beanpot.”

Both teams will return to TD Garden for round two of the Beanpot next Monday. Boston College will take on Boston College in the consolation game at 4:30 p.m., while Northeastern will take on No. 10 Harvard in the championship game at 7:30 p.m. The Harvard/Northeastern championship matchup will be the first of its kind in the 70-year history of the Beanpot.

Featured Image: BU Captain Dom Fensore looks for a pass in the offensive zone. JOE EACHUS/WTBU SPORTS