Men’s Hockey: BU finishes off Merrimack in gritty contest

Featured image: Kota Tsukada

By Devora Slonim

It felt like last night’s game never ended, as tonight’s contest kicked off with the same chaos and physicality as yesterday’s matchup. 

The Boston University Terriers (10-4-1, 6-1-1 HEA) swept their weekend series against the Merrimack Warriors (6-7-1, 2-5-1 HEA) to close out the final game of the semester. 

“I just had a feeling we were going to find a way to come back,” said coach Jay Pandolfo.

The first period began with an early goal from BU sophomore forward Quinn Hutson just 23 seconds into the first.  

However, not wanting to repeat last night’s game, Merrimack was determined to get on the scoreboard early, and they did as freshman forward Ethan Bono tipped in a shot, beating junior goaltender Mathieu Caron. 

Capitalizing on the two-man advantage due to an interference call to freshman defenseman Aiden Celebrini and forward Sam Stevens for boarding, the Warriors took their first lead of the weekend series from senior forward Alex Jefferies, who beat Caron on a one-timer. 

The second period went underway as the Terriers drew a power play on a tripping call to senior forward Luke Tuch. 

Two more penalties, one to BU and one to Merrimack, were uneventful as neither team were able to capitalize on the man advantage. 

The Terriers headed right back to the power play with 5:30 remaining in the period but were again unsuccessful on the advantage. 

Although scoreless, the second was action-packed with penalties and shots on goals. 

The final 20 minutes of play opened up with an early BU goal and what seemed to be a rejuvenated Terrier team. 

Sophomore forward Jeremy Wilmer found the back of the net on a breakaway opportunity just three minutes into the final frame, beating senior goaltender Zachary Borgiel to tie the game up at two. 

BU found their momentum and dominated the ice with puck possession, but junior defenseman Ty Gallagher got called on a hooking penalty, disrupting the Terrier offense. 

On a perfectly-timed steal amidst the Gallagher penalty, senior forward Nick Zabaneh stole the show as he netted his first of the year and got the Terriers their first short-handed goal of the season. BU led 3-2 with 12:00 minutes left in the third.   

“It felt really good,” said Zabaneh in a post game interview. “I think for a while there I was getting the chances but they weren’t going in. So I think the message was just to stay with it.” 

With five minutes left in the final frame, Borgiel denied freshman forward Macklin Celebrini in save-of-the-year fashion. 

As the clock winds down, freshman defenseman Tom Willander finds his own rebound to beat Borgiel and give the Terriers a two-goal lead. 

The Warriors get the extra attacker on as Borgiel heads to the bench with 2:39 left in the game. 

BU gets their final goal of the night as Stevens scores on the empty net with just two seconds left, making this the fourth and final goal of the period for the Terriers. 

“It’s a lot of fun playing here… every night you will have to give 100% because every team puts up a great challenge,” said Willander. 

This is the mentality the Terriers will hold on to as they take a break in their season. 

BU’s season will resume on Dec. 29. as the Terriers take on the Yale Bulldogs in New Haven. The game will be available for streaming on ESPN+.