Men’s Hockey: BU Faces Cornell with Frozen Four Berth on the Line

By Michael Wax

Cover Photo Credit: Joe Eachus

After two exciting semifinal matchups in the Manchester, New Hampshire region of the NCAA bracket, Boston University Men’s Hockey (28-10-0) will take on Cornell University (21-10-2) with a spot in the 2023 NCAA Frozen Four and a trip to Tampa on the line.

“It’s actually a benefit to have a day in between,” BU Head Coach Jay Pandolfo said after BU’s semifinal victory. “We’re used to playing back-to-back, and do it all year long.”

The Terriers punched their ticket to the next round with a 5-1 victory over Western Michigan University in the early game Thursday. BU got 24 saves from junior goaltender Drew Commesso and goals from five different players in the win.

“Forwards were blocking a lot of shots, [defensemen] were blocking a lot of shots,” Commesso said. “Overall, just a great team effort. Let me see the puck and do my job.”

Senior forward Ethan Phillips led the way with a goal and two assists, the only player in the Terriers lineup with multiple points during the balanced scoring attack. 

“Ethan Phillips was excellent tonight, and that was probably the best game he’s played all year,” Pandolfo said. “Give him a lot of credit. I was really happy for him to find a way to get the empty net at the end. That line as a whole – O’Brien, Brown, Phillips – was excellent tonight.”

A few hours later, Cornell played spoiler in the late game by beating the defending national champion University of Denver 2-0. Junior forward Jack O’Leary led Cornell with a goal and an assist, while sophomore goalie Ian Shane stopped all 27 of Denver’s shots for his fifth shutout of the year.

“Tonight, we attacked more and weren’t tentative,” Cornell Head Coach Mike Schafer said following the win.

Overall, the Terriers have a 7-6-2 head-to-head record against the Big Red in the regular season, with their most recent matchup coming this past season. Despite Cornell holding three separate one-goal leads, BU found a way to tie the game each time and ended up winning the game on a goal from freshman defenseman Lane Hutson with 3.8 seconds remaining in regulation.

The Terriers lead the national tournament matchup history 2-1-0. Both teams traded wins in the national championship against one another (Cornell, 1967; BU, 1972), while BU upset Cornell in the 2018 NCAA Regional Semifinals 3-1. BU is looking to make its first Frozen Four since 2015, while Cornell is attempting to reach the Frozen Four for the first time since 2003.

The Terriers and the Big Red will duke it out for the Manchester Regional crown and a chance to head to Tampa for the 2023 Frozen Four on Saturday. Puck drop is scheduled for 4 p.m.