Men’s Hockey: 3 Takeaways from Terriers’ 5-1 Win Over WMU

By Gracie Davenport

Cover Photo Credit: Joe Eachus

Boston University Men’s Hockey (28-10-0) advanced to the NCAA Regional Final with a 5-1 win in the Regional Semifinal over the Western Michigan University Broncos (23-15-1) Thursday afternoon in Manchester, New Hampshire. It took a complete team effort to quell the fifth-best offense in the nation, but the Terriers shined on their most important stage of the season.

Here are three things we learned from BU’s latest victory. 

Last Ride: BU’s Senior Group Made Their Presence Known

It is no secret BU has one of the largest senior classes in the nation, and the 11 members decided to return to Comm Ave. for a reason. 

The eight seniors that suited up had a huge night offensively, combining for seven points and notching three of the five goals. 

Forward Matt Brown recorded BU’s first shot on net at the 1:13 mark and kept the momentum rolling. The Terriers’ leading scoring forward in the regular season, Brown scored the first goal among the seniors midway through the second period, his 16th goal of the season and first of the postseason. 

Brown started the initial offensive rush on a solo effort before one-timing the puck home off a feed from his fellow senior linemate Ethan Phillips. 

After slotting in as the extra forward two straight games to start the postseason, Phillips rejoined his spot on the top line in the Hockey East title game and never looked back. Against the Broncos, he was a difference-maker all night. 

“Phillips was excellent tonight,” BU Head Coach Jay Pandolfo said. “I think that it was the best game he’s played all year.”

Freshman defenseman Lane Hutson opened the scoring for the Terriers, but Phillips made the play happen. The senior winger got activated on the forecheck to gain possession down low, creating a turnover. From there, Phillips went between the legs and found his senior linemate Jay O’Brien net front before Hutson banged it home. 

En route to his three-point effort, Phillips continued to impress. Setting up plays below the goal line and creating a notable shorthanded breakaway chance in the middle frame, Phillips was finally rewarded for his efforts with an empty-net goal to seal the game 5-1.

“[Phillips is] a great player,” senior forward Wilmer Skoog said. “We were playing a bunch with each other freshman, sophomore year. We know each other pretty well on and off the ice. It was really good to see him get that open net goal at the end. I am happy for him and for the team.”

Skoog also had a bounce-back showing after missing the Hockey East title game for a one-game boarding suspension sustained in the HE semifinal against Providence College. Skoog scored BU’s fourth of the night on a top-shelf tally for his 15th of the season. 

“It was painful just watching the game, but I am so happy the team got it done last weekend,” Skoog said. “It was really nice to be out there again. I for sure had some extra energy from missing that game.”

BU captain Domenick Fensore has been playing banged up since suffering a lower-body injury on March 11, but continued to sacrifice his body Thursday. 

Fensore finished the game with three blocked shots, including one on WMU freshman forward Ryan McAllister. The freshman leads the Broncos in points, and his top line includes the nation’s top goal-scorer, senior Jason Polin. Fensore’s shutdown style was on full display as he took on Polin 1-on-1 and broke up any potential offensive rushes all night.

The defenseman also picked up the primary assist on the game-winner, perfectly feathering the puck to Quinn Hutson for the tap-in.

Although this senior group had themselves a memorable game, the Terriers were missing one key member: defenseman Case McCarthy. The assistant captain suffered a season-ending injury March 17 against PC. BU continues to rally around him in their quest for a national title. 

Hutson(s) for Hobey: The Siblings Continue to Shine

The freshman duo of brothers has played an integral part in the Terriers’ success all season long, but the pair has reached new levels in the postseason. 

“They score in big moments. They both want the puck on their stick,” Pandolfo said. “Quinn is a goal-scorer … Obviously Lane drives offense, and he’s got a sneaky shot. He finds a way to come up big, and it’s a credit to him.

Hutson opened the scoring Thursday with his 15th of the year. The Hobey Baker finalist was left out all alone in front of WMU’s netminder and capitalized by going five-hole.

“Great forecheck by Ethan Phillips,” Hutson said. “[O’Brien] found me there drifting in, I just tried to get in and off my stick pretty quick.”

Quinn Hutson doubled BU’s lead in the second period with an eerily similar goal to his overtime winner that advanced the Terriers to the HE title game. The elder brother now has six points through his last eight games — all goals.

This tally became the eventual game-winner in a final score of 5-1. Despite playing different positions, the Hutson brothers have traded game-winning goals over the last three straight games to boost their season total to a combined 12 game-winners on 28 team wins. 

“It’s pretty special. My parents have been at the last three games, so it’s always good when they are in town watching the games,” Lane said. “I am really happy to see Quinn score big goals, as he always does, and we’ll see if I can get the next one.”

Drew Commesso is Still Dialed In

Junior goaltender Drew Commesso earned his eighth straight victory Thursday, making 24 saves and showing that he’s locked in at the right time in recent games. 

Commesso only conceded one goal to the Broncos’ fifth-best offense in the nation. WMU’s top offensive line is one of the most explosive in college hockey. 

“We went in knowing they had a great offense. The game plan was to shut their top line down. I give our players a ton of credit,” Commesso said. “A lot of times when they are moving guys out of the way it lets me see the puck, it allows for fewer rebounds, and our [defense was] great tonight — talking to me all night.”

Commesso allowed the first goal of the night 9:26 into the matchup, but BU successfully overturned the call for goaltender interference. 

“I knew right when it went in that it should’ve gotten reviewed,” Commesso said. “I had a good feeling that it was going to get called back. After it happened, I just had the same mindset on whether it was a goal or no goal. It’s just a focus on stopping the next puck.”

From there, Commesso continued to hold down the fort behind a desperate BU team. 

The Terriers’ regular-season efforts may have earned them an automatic tournament bid regardless of the outcome of the HE championship. Still, Commesso’s efforts last weekend sent his team into the national tournament with momentum. 

Over his four-game postseason win streak, the assistant captain has strung together a .936 save percentage and 1.75 goals against average. 

“Overall, a great team effort. They let me see the puck and do my job,” Commesso said. 

With this win, the Terriers are now a perfect 5-0 at the Manchester Regional site, advancing to the Frozen Four in 2009 and 2015. BU will look to continue this streak Saturday with a 4 p.m. Red Hot Hockey matchup against Cornell University. 

“There is so much video on teams now. You can dig deep, so it shouldn’t be an issue having a short amount of time,” Pandolfo said. “We’ll enjoy it for a little bit. We will go have a dinner tonight and get some rest, come back here, and practice tomorrow — start focusing on our next opponent.”