Boston, MA – Two rival schools separated by two miles rink to rink, sharing a trolley line on a major street in Boston, and both celebrating their 100th year of college hockey. Can it get better than the Boston College Eagles vs. Boston University Terriers? The answer is a resounding no. 6,150 fans witnessed a classic during the 285th “Battle of Comm. Ave.” at Agganis Arena.
It’s only fitting that the game would need more than the allotted 65 minutes of play. This one would need all five shootout attempts to settle it.
Eagles sophomore Trevor Kuntar‘s fifth and final round goal was the only goal by either of the team’s five shooters. Matt Brown had a chance for the Terriers, but his shot clung the iron to give the visitors two of the three Hockey East points.
Domenick Fensore rifled a Robert Mastrosimone pass from the left circle past Eric Dop (32 saves) to give the Terriers the 1-0 lead at 10:57. Dop made a save on Ty Gallagher‘s shot from the blue line initially but couldn’t keep the puck secure, and Mastrosimone corralled it and dished to Fensore for his third of the year.
The Terriers built on their lead at 8:28 of the second period when graduate transfer student Max Kaufman beat Dop on a breakaway. Gallagher sent Kaufman into the BC zone with a stretch pass from the Terriers blue line. The goal was Kaufman’s third of the year.
At the one-minute mark of the third period, BC cut the Terriers lead in half 2-1 on a one-timer from Marc McLaughlin. The senior center was set up perfectly by a nifty through the legs, no-look pass from line-mate Kuntar across the front of the BU net. The goal was McLaughlin’s 12th of the season.
The Eagles tied the game at 2-2 at 7:19 when Nikita Nesterenko carried into the Terriers zone and drove hard to the goal. Drew Commesso (28 saves) stopped Nesterenko’s attempt, but the rebound bounced off a BU skate. Aiden Hreschukand Drew Helleson assisted on Nesterenko’s fifth goal.
With Agganis Arena in a state of shock, the Eagles took the lead less than a minute later on a bing, bang, boom play. Patrick Giles buried a Jack St. Ivany pass past Commesso at 8:11.
Boston U. settled back into the game and tied it at 3-3 when senior Ty Amonte went end to end and dished to a streaking Kaufman, who one-touched the puck over Dop’s right shoulder for his second goal of the game. Gallagher had the secondary helper giving him three assists on the night.
The three-on-three overtime was an electric back and forth, end to end, five-minute rush as the two rivals traded chances on multiple occasions. It was only fitting that the first game between the two schools with fans in attendance would go to a shootout.
With 21 NHL draft picks in the two line-ups for the game, the shootout should have been a show-stopper, but the first three shooters for each team were unable to capitalize. For the Eagles, Eamon Powell, Casey Carreau, and McLaughlin were all stopped by Commesso. The BU trio of Brian Carrabes-miss, Wilmer Skoog-save, and Kaufman-miss wasn’t as lucky. Nesterenko went for BC, and Commesso’s post-to-post split save stopped him. Gallagher went for the Terriers and missed the net.
Kuntar went next for the Eagles and beat Commesso at the far-side post with a wrister. It was all on BU’s Brown. The transfer student from Wood Ridge, NJ, beat Dop but hit the post giving the visiting Eagles the hard-earned extra point for the Hockey East standings.
“When we scored in the first minute of the third period, it kind of gave us some life,” said BC coach Jerry York. “We were down 2-0, and the game swings back and forth. You can’t ever give up. We thought we were still in the ballgame.”
“In the first two periods, we had 10-12 offsides. We were getting too fancy through the neutral zone,” added York. “I think our team is built more for getting the puck deep behind the defenseman and then grind it out. We got back to that mantra in the third.”
“It was a pretty entertaining game, to say the least for the fans,” said BU coach Albie O’Connell. “The crowd was terrific. It was a little bit of a classic game. It ended up being back and forth. I thought the first two periods we controlled most of the play. I thought we played really well. Even in the third, I thought we played a pretty good period for the most part. We had a couple of mistakes that they (BC) capitalized on. They have a good hockey team.”
“All in all, both goalies played well. Both teams battled hard, and it always stinks to lose in a shootout, but I liked the way we played,” said O’Connell.
The Eagles improve to 8-5-3 overall (5-3-2 HEA), and the Terriers sit at 6-9-3 overall (5-5-3 in HEA). The Eagles are off until they play Mercyhurst in the Ledyard Classic at Dartmouth College on Thursday, December 30, 2021. The Eagles’ following Hockey East action will be January 14, 2022, against the University of New Hampshire in Durham, NH. The Terriers square off in an exhibition game on Saturday against the USNDTP U-18’s at 3:00 pm EST at Agganis Arena. They will then be off until New Year’s Eve when they travel to Providence, RI, to take on Brown University. The Terriers’ following conference action will be against UConn at the XL Center in Hartford, CT, on January 14.