BU Men’s Hockey Wins 10th Hockey East Title in Overtime
BU Men’s Hockey Wins 10th Hockey East Title in Overtime
Two-goal night from Lane Hutson seals Terriers’ victory over Merrimack 3-2
Lane Hutson (CAS’26) didn’t see his tournament-winning goal go in the net during the Hockey East championship game Saturday night at TD Garden—but he definitely heard it.
The Hockey East final pitted No. 1 seeded Boston University against No. 2 Merrimack College March 18, where the Terriers defeated the Warriors 3-2 in an overtime thriller.
When the puck dropped over a raucous crowd at 7 pm sharp, the opposing teams, bands, and student sections traded shots, both on the ice and off. More than five uninterrupted minutes of hockey set the tone to start play.
That was until Merrimack defenseman Mike Brown committed a minor penalty, hooking BU’s Matt Brown (Questrom’23). However, the early man advantage opportunity would come to hurt the Terriers. With the penalty mostly killed, Warriors forward Ben Brar threaded a perfect pass to defenseman Christian Felton on a breakaway, who found the five-hole of BU goalkeeper Drew Commesso (CAS’24), putting Merrimack up 1-0.
BU’s rebuttal came in the form of swarming offense. The Terriers broke off multiple shots on Merrimack netminder Hugo Ollas, challenging the Swedish sophomore early. Merrimack’s Tristan Crozier layed a trip on Hutson, committing the Warriors’ second minor of the game.
The Terriers managed five shots, including a Jay O’Brien (COM’23) strike that ricocheted off the pipe before Merrimack successfully killed off the penalty.
As the period wound down, BU was still unable to find the net, and Merrimack continued their aggressive play. BU captain Domenick Fensore (CAS’23) was leveled into the boards by Merrimack’s Crozier. Fensore was slow to get up and left the ice, but returned minutes later, just in time for Merrimack’s Brown and Brar to commit two minor penalties within nine seconds of each other. BU closed out the final 30 seconds of period one on the 5-on-3, leading Merrimack 10 to 9 in shots.
The second period opened with another minute and a half of the two-man advantage, and BU continued to knock at Ollas’ door until they equalized the score. On his fifth shot of the night, Hockey East Rookie of the Year Hutson timed a perfectly teed-up pass from Fensore, pulling his team even, 1-1.
“With the fresh sheet of ice, we wanted to make sure we took the right shot,” says head coach Jay Pandolfo (CAS’96). “Lane decided on that one that he liked the look, and as usual he finished it off.”
The second period spelled more offensive opportunity for the Terriers. Luke Tuch (COM’24) laid a shot of his own off the pipe, one of 12 shots in the period. Meanwhile, Commesso picked up where he left off last night, handling everything Merrimack shot at him. Against Providence, Commesso made 37 saves in the winning effort.
The Terriers incurred another injury when Nick Zabaneh (COM’24), the hero of BU’s 7-3 quarterfinal victory over UVM March 11, landed his body awkwardly against the boards. Zabaneh would not return, and was on a crutch for the postgame trophy ceremony.
Zabaneh’s exit reminded fans of the injury sustained by Case McCarthy (Questrom’23) the night before. During the second period of Friday’s semifinal game, McCarthy fell hard into the boards, leaving him momentarily motionless on the ice. He was removed by stretcher and later found to have a broken collarbone. McCarthy was unable to play, but was in attendance for Saturday’s championship where he announced BU’s lineup to the team in the locker room pregame.
“To have him back here was huge,” Pandolfo says. “He announced the starting lineup for our team and I think that was important for our guys to see that he was okay.”
In addition to McCarthy and Zabaneh, BU first line forward Wilmer Skoog (CAS’23) was also unable to play, having been suspended due to a boarding penalty during Friday’s semifinal game against Providence.
A back-and-forth tempo would be interrupted with 15 minutes down in the second when Merrimack’s Crozier slotted a tremendous pass to forward Mac Welsher off the face-off. With the puck at his stick, Welsher slotted a wrist shot past Commesso, stealing the lead, 2-1 Warriors.
Closing out the period, BU laid a flurry on Ollas, extending their shot advantage to 22-17, but could not find the back of the net.
The start of the third period saw BU looking to tie the game, with the Terriers battling into Merrimack’s offensive zone.
Before the halfway point of the period, forward Devin Kaplan (CAS’26) took it upon himself to weave the puck into the offensive zone. Dancing through traffic, he crossed the center of Merrimack’s zone and sniped a wrist shot over Ollas’ right shoulder to tie the game 2-2.
The Terriers continued to bleed into Merrimack’s zone, testing Ollas with repeated barrages. The battle between Commesso and Ollas would keep the third period even, taking the Hockey East finale into overtime.
Less than two minutes in, Hutson corralled the Hockey East final on his stick, and buried the tournament winner into the back of the net from the top of the zone, clinching the game 3-2. Terrier madness ensued.
BU players poured onto the ice, piling onto Hutson, Commesso, and each other in a sea of scarlet and white. Saturday’s result notched BU’s 39th conference title, and first since 2018. Referencing his brother Quinn Hutson’s (CAS’26) game-winning goal Friday, Lane says he was happy to win the final for BU.
“I think it’s pretty cool that Quinn got the win yesterday,” Hutson says. “Today, was pretty special. My parents are here and my youngest brother is here. It’s pretty special.”
Following Saturday’s win, Lane Hutson was named Hockey East Tournament MVP. Pandolfo became the first coach to win the Hockey East championship in his first season and was named Hockey East Coach of the Year on March 15.
The No. 5 ranked squad in Division I, BU automatically qualifies for the NCAA tournament. The Terriers will play No. 12 Western Michigan at 2 pm on Thursday, March 23, at SNHU Arena in Manchester, N.H.
Should BU win, they will play the winner of No. 4 Denver and No. 13 Cornell on Saturday, March 25, at 4 pm. From there, the Manchester Regional’s victor will play in the Frozen Four on April 6-8 at Amalie Arena in Tampa Bay, Fla.
Tickets for the Manchester Regional can be purchased here.
Bravo, BU ! On to the Frozen Four.
How are Terrier injuries for tourney ?
Pro BU commentary with little said about the Merrimack College effort.