By: Matt Dresens
NORTH ANDOVER – With just under five minutes to play, Dante Fabbro picked the perfect time to register the first hat trick by a BU defenseman since January 2016, scoring the eventual game-winning goal to push BU past Merrimack 4-3 at Lawler Rink.
Fabbro pumped home his third goal of the night from the top of the right circle with 4:27 left, beating Merrimack goalie Craig Pantano, who made 25 saves on the night. The last BU hat-trick by a defenseman came in a 7-2 drubbing of UMass at Agganis by Matt Grzelcyk in 2016. Prior to that, you have to go all the way back to November 2003, when both Ryan Whitney and Kevin Schaeffer scored three times each from the blue line in a 7-2 win against Yale.
“The third one was a little more difficult,” mentioned Fabbro. “The guy kinda had the shooting lane blocked and I just tried to get it towards the net. It was honestly pretty lucky. Lucky that I shot it on the ice and it went five-hole.”
For BU, this was not a dominating win. It was a millstone grinder that saw a two-goal lead at the end of the first period dry up early in the third frame before the late Fabbro heroics.
All in all, Coach David Quinn was pleased with his team’s performance, saying “Its a big two points on the road in a place we haven’t won in a long time. We didn’t do it the easy way, that’s for sure.”
Merrimack opened the scoring 4:39 into the game, as Brett Seney recorded his first of two on the night, beating Jake Oettinger on a sharp angle to the glove side.
After what Quinn described as a sluggish start, BU woke up big time late in the period, scoring three goals in 70 seconds. First, Fabbro put home goal number one from the far side off a slick feed from Jordan Greenway down low to tie the game on the power play. Just 47 seconds later, Shane Bowers poked home a rebound to give BU a 2-1 lead. Then, 23 seconds after that, Fabbro was at it again, ripping home a shot from up top off a centering carom.
“Greener gave me a pretty sweet pass backdoor and the second one was a lot like the third,” recalled Fabbro. “It just trickled out and I was able to get a couple shots on net. Luckily they went in.”
The three-goal outburst was BU’s fastest three goals since the 2009 Hockey East Semifinal, when Zach Cohen, Brian Strait, and Colin Wilson accomplished the feat in just 43 seconds.
Despite having Merrimack’s Marc Biega register the only goal of the second period, Quinn saw the frame as a much stronger period for the Terriers.
“I liked how we battled back after the first period,” Quinn said. “Even though we were winning 3-1, I thought we played a lot better in the second. We sustained a lot of pressure and had some chances that just bounced out on us. I don’t know how we missed them.”
The game was tied 4:48 into the third period when Brett Seney deposited his second of the game on the man advantage, leveling things at 3-3. Following the goal, both teams traded chances. Cole McBride was denied on a partial breakaway by Jake Oettinger, and Bobo Carpenter just missed a rebound bid.
All of that set the stage for Fabbro’s game-winning, hat-trick goal. On the ensuing shift, Oettinger made a crucial glove save to stymie a Merrimack counter and preserve the win. In total, Oettinger turned aside 28 shots.
BU now has registered at least a point in each of their last three games, their longest such streak of the year. The two teams will go at it again tomorrow night on Comm. Ave. starting at 7 pm.