By Sasha Abrams
Boston University News Service
Boston University Terriers men’s ice hockey lost 6-2 in the semifinals of the NCAA championship to the University of Minnesota Gophers last Thursday night, ending their season just two wins shy of the national championship.
“They were all over us in the first,” BU Head Coach Jay Pandolfo said. “But then I thought we found our game in the second. We started playing our game, and we ended up finding a way to tie it up. Then just discipline and penalties caught up to us. You can’t give that team seven power plays, that’s not winning hockey for us.”
The game started off slow for the Terriers, while Minnesota jumped out the gate with speed and control of the puck. The Terriers didn’t get a shot on goal until the Gophers already had seven shots on BU’s net, but still managed to score first with a wrister by fourth-line forward Sam Stevens.
“They’re a big part of our team all year,” Pandolfo said. “Forward depth on our team was very strong. Those guys bought into playing a certain way and they had tough matchups, a lot of D-zone starts, and they relished the role they had. That’s what you need on winning teams.”
Things quickly took a turn for the Terriers after getting in the penalty box five minutes later, giving Minnesota the chance to execute their power play successfully with a goal by defender Mike Koster to tie the game. It wasn’t a minute later that BU made the same mistake of ending up in the box, where Minnesota forward Aaron Huglen scored eight seconds into the PP to make it 2-1 going into the second period.
“You play a team with that much talent, just can’t go in the box that often. We had Dom and Lane out there killing penalties for, had to be, five or six minutes. That’s just too much for those guys,” Pandolfo said.
The Terriers were the only scorers in the second period, with a payback power play goal by assistant captain Jay O’Brien. While the Terriers entered the third period in a tied game, they took three overlapping penalties to end the second. Within two minutes of the start of the final period Minnesota had the lead back, one they wouldn’t lose for the rest of the game.
Minnesota went on to get their first even-strength goal by defender Luke Mittelstadt, his second of the period after scoring the go-ahead goal two minutes prior, to push the lead to 4-2. With BU’s net empty in the last three minutes of play, Minnesota’s Logan Cooley scored twice to close the Terriers’ 2022-23 season.
The Terriers defeated Western Michigan and Cornell to get to the Frozen Four in Tampa for the first time since 2015. Finishing the season 29-11-0, BU won both the Hockey East Championship regular season title outright for the first time since 2015, and the postseason title for the first time since 2018.
“Just really proud to be a Terrier,” senior forward Jay O’Brien said, fighting through the tears after the loss. “Hell of a group. Hell of a season. Going to miss throwing on that scarlet and white.”
Following the loss in Tampa, junior goaltender Drew Commesso signed an NHL contract with the Chicago Blackhawks, while seven Terriers entered the transfer portal, four of them being seniors with an extra year of eligibility due to COVID year. Star player Lane Hutson announced he will be returning next year, rather than leaving to sign a contract with the Montreal Canadiens.