By Gracie Davenport
Cover Photo Credit: Jessica Lam
The No. 5 Boston University Men’s Hockey (26-10-0, 20-6-0 HE) advanced to the Hockey East Championship for the first time since 2017-18 with a 2-1 overtime win against the Providence College Friars (16-14-7, 9-10-6 HE) at TD Garden Friday night.
The Terriers’ fifth-best offense in the nation was heavily outshot in regulation 34-15 but rallied around senior defenseman Case McCarthy, who was stretchered off the ice in the third period after crashing into the end boards late in the third period.
“Obviously our first concern is for Case McCarthy,” BU Head Coach Jay Pandolfo said. “It’s always scary to see one of your players and teammates go down like that.”
BU captain Domenick Fensore drew back into the lineup Friday after suffering a lower-body injury in the HE Quarterfinal on March 11.
The Terriers only recorded two shots in the first frame, but junior goaltender Drew Commesso found a way to keep his team in the game all night.
“I thought we played a really good game,” PC Head Coach Nate Leaman said. “We had a lot of looks tonight. Tip your hat to Commesso.”
BU was assessed a bench minor for too many men at the 5:38 mark, and senior forward Sam Stevens was added to the box a minute later for hooking. As PC’s 42-second 5-on-3 was winding down, Commesso made a highlight-reel stop to prevent a Friar goal backdoor.
On the ensuing 5-on-4 PC power play, the Friars continued their offensive momentum. Junior forward Nick Poisson beat Commesso but drew iron. Heading into the second period, the game remained scoreless.
The Friar defense did not allow BU to record their first shot on net until 6:38 into the second period. The shot came on the Terriers’ first man advantage of the game, but the power play that went 0-for-8 two weeks ago against the same team was unable to convert.
Over the second half of the middle frame, Commesso gave his team a chance with pair of saves on some freshmen Friar forwards. The Norwell, Mass. native first made a breakaway save on Liam Valente before flashing the leather on Bennett Schimek.
“He was outstanding,” freshman forward Quinn Hutson said on Commesso. “Without him I don’t think we would win that game.”
BU had more offensive looks than in the first frame, but PC’s hard-on-puck mentality prevented the Terriers from taking the lead. The Friars led in second-period shots on goal 12-6.
“[The Friars] funnel everything to the net.” Pandolfo said. “We weren’t surprised by that. I just didn’t like the way that we didn’t shoot enough … a little hesistant to get pucks there, a little stubborn at times.”
At the 12:05 mark of the final frame, the quiet game found some meaning.
Senior forward Patrick Moynihan laid a hit on McCarthy, who collided hard with the boards. The BU assistant captain lay motionless on the ice for several minutes before being stretchered off. TD Garden erupted in support, and McCarthy gave the crowd a thumbs-up.
“He’s got movement in all his extremities, so that’s good news,” Pandolfo said. “He was transported to a local hospital. He’s doing very well, and we’ll wait for further evalutaion.”
Less than a minute later, senior forward Wilmer Skoog sent senior defenseman Cam McDonald into the boards from behind. Skoog was given a two-minute minor for boarding, and PC Head Coach Nate Leaman confirmed post-game that McDonald broke his hand. It was later announced Skoog will be suspended for Saturday’s championship game.
With 7:35 remaining in the third, the Friars finally broke through.
Valente stretched to keep possession deep in the offensive zone and sent the puck behind the net. Collecting the rubber, Bennett Schimek beat Commesso five-hole for his 11th of the season.
The Terriers needed a big response, and they were given some life on a PC-slashing call with five minutes remaining.
On the power play, both teams traded high-danger scoring chances.
At the 4:50 mark, Quinn Hutson’s shot beat Svedebäck and rang off the pipe before Poisson nearly found his second of the night. Poisson drove to the net on a short-handed breakaway, but Commesso fully extended his right pad to keep the game within one goal.
“We go up 1-0, and then we get the breakaway. Commesso made a big save there,” Leaman said. “If we get that goal, it’s over.”
In the final two minutes, junior forward Dylan Peterson found the equalizer.
Freshman defenseman Lane Hutson carried the puck into the offensive zone, working along the left wall. The HE Rookie of the Year centered the puck to freshman forward Ryan Greene, but the puck slipped past to Peterson in the slot. Peterson settled down the puck before going glove-side on Svedebäck for his fifth of the season.
“I thought Dylan Peterson had great legs all night,” Pandolfo said. “Arguably one of our better forwards.”
In the final minute of regulation, the Terriers came close to finding the go-ahead goal, but the bounces did not go their way. The Friars led in third-period shots on net 11-7 heading into extra time.
PC entered this period leading the NCAA in overtime appearances (15) and riding two-straight overtime games, but it would be BU who found the game-winner.
Quinn Hutson, who recorded nine shots over his last two trips to TD Garden, finally scored to become the game’s hero.
Junior forward Luke Tuch flew down the left wing and found Hutson net-front for his 14th goal and sixth game-winner of the season. Recording the secondary assist, Greene picked up his second point of the night.
“It was pretty crazy,” Quinn said. “I saw it go in, and it looked kind of slow motion.”
The Terriers found their game in overtime, dominating in shots on net 10-4.
“They wanted to win it for Case,” Pandolfo said. “You want to go win it for him. Again, credit to our leaders. They got the group together, and they were not going to be denied after that.
Serving as one of BU’s assistant captains, Commesso finished the night with 37 saves to propel his team to the title game.
“For a lot of goalies, they might not talk a lot,” Pandolfo said. “Drew’s not like that. He’s talking all the time … he’s a leader on this team. He came back here wanting to win a championship.”
Meanwhile, Providence’s season came to a close.
“Super honored and proud to be a Friar,” senior captain Parker Ford said. “I’ve made brothers for life over my four years. It sucks to go out this way, but it’s been nothing short of an honor.”
With this win, the Terriers look to win their 10th Hockey East Title Saturday night. BU will take on the Merrimack College Warriors — a team that swept them in a home-and-home three weeks ago. Puck drop for the championship will be at 7 p.m. at TD Garden.