Men’s Hockey: Lane Hutson scores twice, Terriers win Hockey East Championship 3-2 in overtime over Merrimack

By Gracie Davenport

Cover Photo Credit: Jessica Lam

The No. 5 Boston University Men’s Hockey (27-10-0) took home its 10th Hockey East Championship with a 3-2 overtime victory over the No. 16 Merrimack College Warriors (23-13-1) Saturday night at TD Garden. First-year defenseman Lane Hutson continued his historic freshman season with a two-goal performance — including the championship winner. 

“I’m really proud of our group,” BU Head Coach Jay Pandolfo said postgame. “I know we’re not done yet but to get this first one that we really wanted to win this year — we accomplished that — and now we move on.” 

The Terriers never led in regulation this weekend but found a way to squeak out both wins in overtime. 

“If you’re going to go far, you’re going to get down and have to find a way to come back,” Pandolfo said. “I think it’s good for our group to have that happen as long as you end up on the right side of it.” 

The freshman class has been crucial to BU’s success all season, but they had to rally around a depleted leadership group tonight. 

After the HE Semifinal victory over Providence College Friday, the Terriers entered the title game missing two key pieces of their lineup — both seniors. 

Forward Wilmer Skoog was suspended one game for boarding Providence senior defenseman Cam McDonald, and defenseman Case McCarthy remained out after colliding hard into the boards. 

In place of Skoog, senior forward Jay O’Brien slotted back at center, and senior forward Ethan Phillips was elevated to first-line right wing. Sophomore forward Brian Carrabes re-entered the lineup as the extra skater. 

Defensively, senior John Copeland was promoted to the second pair, while freshman Lachlan Getz joined the third. 

“I thought they were both really good tonight,” Pandolfo said on Copeland and Getz. “That’s how our group has been all year long anytime we’ve had some injuries. We have a lot of depth.”

The Warriors came out hot, firing off three shots on junior goaltender Drew Commesso within the first minute, but MC would open the scoring shorthanded. 

On BU’s first power play attempt of the night, junior forward Dylan Peterson’s offensive zone  dump-in attempt proved costly. 

Peterson sent the puck around the boards, and Merrimack forward Ben Brar took possession before flying down the right wing. The MC captain backhanded the rubber to junior defenseman Christian Felton net front, and he went five-hole on Commesso for his second goal of the season. 

The power play got another chance midway through the first period, and it sparked some life into the Terriers. The rejuvenated man advantage moved the puck well, maintaining possession the entire way. BU’s best chance came in tac-tac-toe fashion as O’Brien’s shot drew iron, beating sophomore goaltender Hugo Ollas. 

A team that racked up 55 penalty minutes three weeks ago in the home-and-home series continued to struggle with discipline. In the final 40 seconds of the first period, MC took two minors 10 seconds apart. 

While the Terriers could not find the late tying goal, their offense — which was smothered by PC on Friday  — found its legs and led in first-period shots 10-9. 

The Terriers began the middle frame on the remaining 81-second 5-on-3 advantage, and BU found the equalizer. 

The power play took its time looking for the right pass until Hutson capitalized. On a feed from Fensore at the point, the HE Rookie of the Year one-timed the puck past Ollas for his 13th of the year. 

“We obviously have access to video, so we went over some stuff,” Pandolfo said on the first intermission. “We just wanted to make sure we took the right shot … 5-on-3 you want to make sure you’re taking a quality shot and Lane decided on that one.”

Injuries concerns continued for the Terriers as junior forward Nick Zabaneh’s left knee collided awkwardly with the boards. The reigning HE Player of the Week labored off the ice and down the tunnel. 

“Nick, it’s a lower-body injury. [There] will be further evaluation, so we don’t really know much right now,” Pandolfo said on the injuries.

With 4:51 remaining in the middle frame, the Warriors regained the lead.

Off a clean offensive zone face-off win, senior forward Mac Welsher received the puck and one-timed it past Commesso for his seventh of the year. 

MC continued its pressure in the final minutes of the second, but BU ended the period on a high note. The Terriers rifled off six shots in the final 30 seconds, three on target, but could not tie the game.

Down by one, BU led in second-period shots 12-8 heading into the final frame.

Midway through the third period, MC almost doubled their lead, but the Terrier squad put their bodies on the line to maintain the one-goal deficit. 

This sequence proved valuable as BU tied the game at 2-2 shortly after. 

On a solo effort, freshman forward Devin Kaplan notched his 10th of the season. Kaplan started the initial rush and held off two MC defenders before skating into the right circle and slipping the puck under Ollas’ right arm. 

At the end of regulation, these teams found themselves in the same situation as the semifinals. Both the Terriers and Warriors entered their second-straight overtime matchup. 

On Friday night, freshman forward Quinn Hutson sent BU to the title game, but it would be his younger brother Lane who notched the HE Championship winner. 

Just 1:57 into overtime, senior forward Matt Brown collected the puck behind Ollas and found Lane at the point. The Hobey Baker top-10 finalist shot the rubber through all five MC skaters for his second goal of the game. 

“I saw Matt Brown had the puck down low, and the Merrimack guys were kind of collapsing down on him, so I called for the puck,” Hutson said. “I couldn’t completely see it. I just heard everything.” 

After scoring the game-winner, Hutson chose the dab celebration. 

“I told a few guys in the locker [room], ‘If I score, I might pull out a dab here,’” Hutson said, laughing. “I saw someone pull it off the other night, so I thought maybe I could pull it off.”

The Hutson brothers have now combined for 11 of the Terriers’ game-winning goals this season. 

“It’s pretty cool that he got the one yesterday,” Hutson said. “My parents are here, and my youngest brother is here, so it’s pretty special.”

Commesso finished the night with 23 saves to earn his seventh-straight victory. 

With this win, Pandolfo becomes the only HE first-year head coach to win the league title. 

“These guys have been so resilient all year long,” Pandolfo said. “It’s made my job really easy. It’s been a lot of fun to coach them.”

Now with the regular season and HE title in their back pocket, the Terriers have their sights set on something bigger. 

BU beings its journey in the NCAA Tournament next weekend with their opponent still yet to be determined. The selection show will take place Sunday at 6:30 p.m.