Boston, MA — The Boston University Terriers were the most unpredictable Hockey East team in the first half of the season. Their top tier talent could carry them to wins, or be outlasted by good teams, or vanish against unexpected challenges. During the break, the Terriers added two players to their roster: a goaltender from Fort McMurray, Alberta, named Ashton Abel, and a center from Tyreso, Sweden, named Wilmer Skoog. Against the Brown University Bears on Wednesday night, the Terriers’ new forward joined with the existing top talent to earn a dramatic victory.
The night did begin poorly for BU. Brown Captain Zach Giuttari gave his team the lead with a redirected goal at the crease 3:44 into the game. About ten minutes later, Wilmer Skoog took his first penalty of his collegiate career: a boarding minor. On the ensuing power play, Justin Jallen wristed a shot home to make the lead 2-0.
BU regrouped quickly. Less than a minute after the Jallen goal, David Farrance and Patrick Harper combined with some smooth passing to Trevor Zegras to cut the lead to 2-1. With the assist, Harper became the 84th BU Terrier to record 100 career collegiate points.
On his Senior from New Canaan, CT, Terrier Head Coach Albie O’Connell had no lack of praise. “Harps has been great. It was great when he decided to come to BU. He could’ve had three or four goals tonight. He’s one of the better offensive players in the east, maybe in the country. He’s dangerous, he can score, he can make plays. We’re excited that he came here and we’re excited that he’s grown into being a leader.”
In the second period, Brown almost entirely controlled the pace and rhythm, outshooting BU 15-5 in the period. Things got especially dangerous on a 5on3 Bears power play at the frame’s mid-point. BU goalie Sam Tucker stopped all 15 shots in the frame and flashed his athletic prowess with a few stretch saves to keep the lead at only one. After the successful penalty kill, Trevor Zegras gained the zone and fed David Farrance at the point. The Junior defenseman from Victor, NY, corralled it and whipped a shot that handcuffed Brown goalie Gavin Nieto to tie the game.
The third period was a dead-heat. Both teams had nine shots on goal and neither broke the goal line. So overtime was needed. In the extra session, both teams had one shot. Tucker stopped the shot he faced. At the other end, Wilmer Skoog hit the post then got a second chance off an Ethan Phillips pass. The Terrier newcomer showed off his shot and ended the night with a 3-2 overtime victory.
Brown drops to 3-12-0 on the season. “We gotta find a way to be just a little bit better,” commented Bears Head Coach Brendan Whittet. “Disappointed with losing, not disappointed with the effort, or the positive steps we took today towards being a good program as we enter the second half.
Gavin Nieto stopped 22 of 25 shots.
The Bears return home to host Arizona State this weekend. Puck drops on Saturday night at 7 pm ET and on Sunday afternoon at 4 pm ET at Meehan Auditorium against the Sun Devils.
BU improves to 7-6-5. “It’s nice to get a win; nice to get a bounce at the end,” observed Terrier Head Coach Albie O’Connell. “There’s some stuff we definitely have to clean up. We have to hit the net more. We missed the net 24 times.”
O’Connell also shed some light on Wilmer Skoog’s journey to Boston. “He was gonna come back in the fall. He wanted to go back and play another year (in the North American Hockey League) and he was dominating the level he was at and we thought it would be a good idea to bring him in.”
In 24 games for the Maryland Black Bears, Skoog had 15 goals and 18 assists to lead the entire NAHL in points-per-game (1.38).
“He’s different,” added O”Connell. He’s big, he’s strong, he can score. But he also gives us a 200-foot center that can win a faceoff. He’s just a really good addition.”
For his part, Skoog has adjusted pretty well to Boston. “I arrived here on December 26th. So it’s been two weeks here. It’s been a great time to meet the boys. When I started talking to BU, I already knew how much the Beanpot means to everyone and I know the rivalry between BU and BC. So I’m really excited for this upcoming month. It’s gonna be great.” On playing College Hockey for the first time, Skoog observed that “It’s different than what I’ve played before. It’s way faster in every aspect. Everyone is going harder to the net and harder to the corners. It’s harder and tougher everywhere.”
Sam Tucker stopped 26 of 28 shots.
David Farrance is the nation’s leading goal scorer (11) and tied for the leading point producer (23) from the blue line. He’s four goals up on a three-way tie for second place when Arizona State’s Joshua Mainiscalco, Bowling Green’s Alec Rauhauser, and RPI’s Will Reilly. He’s in a three-way tie with Rauhauser and Minnesota-Duluth’s Scott Perunovich.
Cam Crotty did not finish the game but will likely be back quickly, according to O’Connell.
BU travels to Dartmouth for one game against the Big Green on Saturday night. Puck drops at 7 pm ET at Thompson Arena in Hanover, NH.