Men’s Hockey: No. 1/2 Terriers fall to UNH despite freshmen standouts

By Stevie Potter

“O-ver-ra-ted! O-ver-ra-ted!” 

The inside of Whittemore Center Arena echoed with the sound of the crowd chanting at the No. 1/2 ranked team in the nation as they made their way off the ice. 

While the freshman impressed, it was not enough to pull off a win as Boston University men’s ice hockey (1-1-0, 0-1-0 HE), plagued with turnovers and a lack of puck possession, eventually fell 6-4 to the University of New Hampshire Wildcats (1-0-0, 1-0-0 HE) in Durham, NH on Friday night. 

“Not a very good night,” said coach Jay Pandolfo following the loss. “I think probably the biggest takeaway for me is I’m not doing a good enough job coaching because I don’t have our guys ready. I don’t have our guys playing the right way, so I’ll take responsibility. It’s not good enough.”

In their second game of the season, BU started off with a bang, scoring three times in the first period. 

Just 2:53 into the first frame, senior forward Luke Tuch got on the board with his first goal of the season. The Terriers had just failed to convert a UNH too many men  penalty into a power play goal when freshman defender Tom Willander, playing in his first NCAA game, took a shot from the blue line. Tuch, screening UNH sophomore goaltender Tyler Muszelik, got a piece of the shot and redirected it into the back of the net. Freshman forward Jack Harvey, also playing in his first collegiate game, picked up a secondary assist on the goal. 

Six minutes later, a tripping call on BU’s senior forward Dylan Peterson set up UNH for their first goal of the night. Sophomore forward Cy LeClerc’s shot got past BU goalie Mathieu Caron thanks to a screen from junior forward Liam Devlin. 

Devlin, whose screen allowed for UNH’s first goal, tallied a powerplay goal of his own shortly after to give UNH their first lead of the night. 

The Wildcats continued to dominate play in the first until freshman forward Macklin Celebrini scored at 14:46 to tie the game at two a piece. Celebrini and sophomore forward Jeremy Wilmer passed the puck back and forth before cashing in on their 2-on-0 opportunity. 

Willander, who had already made a splash tallying an assist in his first game, added a goal to his list of accomplishments for the night at 3:20. Freshman defender Aiden Celebrini passed the puck back to Willander, who took a powerful wrist shot from the top of the left circle to make it 3-2.

The sixth and final goal of the marathon first period was scored by Wildcat senior defender Luke Reid at 17:07 to send the two teams into intermission tied 3-3. 

Despite the break, the second period took no time at all to heat back up, as UNH quickly netted the game’s seventh goal in 22 minutes of play. A costly turnover by BU landed right on the stick of junior forward Robert Cronin, who passed the puck from the corner over to sophomore forward Morgan Winters who tapped it home to give the Wildcats a 4-3 lead.

UNH would continue to increase their lead with an impressive shorthanded goal with 13:55 remaining in the second period. After stripping BU’s sophomore forward Devin Kaplan of the puck, Winters scored his second of the night on a shorthanded breakaway. 

The final goal of the period came with 6:08 left to go and would become BU’s final official goal of the night. Sophomore defender Lane Hutson connected with Macklin Celebrini who would score his second goal of the night and third goal of the season so far. 

Chances for both UNH and BU occurred early in the final 20 minutes of play.

Shortly after the start of the third period, UNH found itself with a 5-on-3 powerplay opportunity with both graduate forward Sam Stevens and graduate defender Cade Webber in the box for BU. However, it was BU that made the most of it, with the best goal-scoring opportunity of the powerplay coming from a shorthanded breakaway attempt by Peterson. 

The Wildcats’ sixth and final goal of the night occurred with 16:56 left to play in the matchup. UNH sophomore forward Kristaps Skrastins capitalized on a rebound opportunity just in front of Caron. 

In the final five minutes of the game, UNH’s junior defender Alex Gagne was sent to the penalty box, but BU was yet again unable to convert the man advantage into a goal. 

With time running out for the Terriers, they elected to pull Caron for an extra attacker with just under three minutes left to play. 

After two minutes of empty-net action, Sophomore defender Lane Hutson’s shot was deflected down and into the net by Tuch, who was stationed in his usual office in front of the net. While the call of the ice was for a goal, the play was reviewed and overturned for a high stick, with the referees ruling that Tuch’s stick went above the height of the crossbar. 

With a minute left to play and still down by two, BU continued to play with an extra attacker but was ultimately unsuccessful in mounting a comeback. 

The Terriers will take to the ice again tomorrow, Oct. 14, for an exhibition game against the US U18 team at Agganis Arena in Boston, Mass. at 7 p.m.