The Boston University Terriers (10-9-7, 7-5-5 HEA) played the Merrimack College Warriors (7-18-3, 5-10-3 HEA) Friday night at Agganis Arena and lost, in decisive fashion, 5-1.
From the very beginning, it was evident that this game was destined to be a doozy for the Terriers. Coming off their exciting 5-4 double-overtime victory over Boston College in the Beanpot semifinals on Monday and looking to win their first Beanpot title since 2015 on Feb. 10, it seemed like BU didn’t have their heads in this one.
The first five minutes of the game, though they proved to be the best five minutes for BU, foreshadowed a break down of the Terriers’ systems and self-esteem as a young, fast Boston team was out-skated and outworked throughout the entire game by the tenth-ranked team in HockeyEast.
The first period began sluggishly and disjointed, and after only 1:45 of play, the first of thirteen penalties was called. Graduate forward Alex Brink headed to the box for roughing after checking a Merrimack player into the BU bench. Despite this, freshman forward Robert Mastrosimone gave BU the early lead with a patient, short-handed goal fed from the corner from freshman defenseman Case McCarthy less than a minute later.
Unfortunately, this would be the one and only goal BU would notch for the night, and even though the first few minutes seemed to contradict the general unorganized feel of the team’s play, they would prove inconsequential to the remainder of the game.
There were two more penalties in the first, from Merrimack’s Zach Uens and Mastrosimone, respectively, before Merrimack picked up their first goal of the night with a little over three minutes left in the period.
From then on out, Merrimack ran the show. Despite a couple of really good chances and three power play opportunities for BU throughout the second and third periods, Merrimack kept the Terriers quiet. In the second, the Warriors notched two short-handed goals on two separate Terrier power plays and scored two more even-strength goals in the third.
Merrimack’s freshman netminder, Jere Huhtamaa (5-9-2), made a total 36 of 37 saves for his career-high, while freshman goaltender Ashton Abel (3-2-2) made 23 of 28.
This breakdown comes as a surprise after the Terriers played some of their best hockey only five days earlier, but the drastic shift might be due to some changes in the lineup as well as a overly forward-focused mindset. Forwards Markus Boguslavsky and Jake Witkowski replaced freshman forward Ethan Phillips (injured during the Beanpot semifinals) and sophomore forward Jake Wise in the lineup.
Wise’s absence from the lineup came as a surprise, especially considering he had been playing on the same line as junior alternate captain Logan Cockerill and senior captain Patrick Curry consistently since BU last met Merrimack on January 17th in their 3-2 win. As a line, the three of them account for just over a fourth of all goals scored by the Terriers in their last seven matchups.
There is a silver lining to this loss and disfunction, however: Northeastern, the team BU is set to play in the Beanpot Finals, was nearly just as unlucky in their out-of-town 4-2 loss against Maine. So in terms of having a level playing field come Monday night, it might not get any better.
The Terriers will return to action in the Beanpot Finals at TD Garden at 7:30p on NESN and the NHL Network as they take on the Northeastern Huskies. Be sure to follow all of WTBU’s live coverage of the game, including our radio broadcast.