Sunday, February 25, 2024

Caron's shut out, Wilmer's 5 points complete sweep of UConn


Behind Jeremy Wilmer’s five-point performance and flawless goaltending from Mathieu Caron, #2 Terriers blanked Connecticut, 6-0, at Agganis Arena. Nick Zabaneh, continuing his strong late-season production, had a pair of goals and an assist, while single goals came from Luke Tuch, Wilmer, Macklin Celebrini and Quinn Hutson.

The victory gave BU a sweep of the home-and-home, and its fifth sweep of a conference weekend series. Terriers also improved their home record to 12-2-0 with the only blemishes being a 5-4 overtime loss to North Dakota and a 4-3 loss to BC.

With BC sweeping its series with Vermont, BU remains one point behind the Eagles, who have a game in hand, in the conference standings. Saturday’s win also means that BU will finish no worse than second in the Hockey East standings, but could still repeat as regular-season champions. Terriers will have next weekend off before its final regular-season games at Providence and home against Vermont.

“I was just happy with the way we finished. That showed a lot about our group,” Coach Jay Pandolfo said. “That’s what you need to do, that’s what good teams do.”

“Our second period was a mess, it was sloppy,” he added. “But the way we played in the third … was excellent to see, and we extended the lead, and that’s how we need to play that to close out games.”

Playing before a loud a sellout crowd, BU quickly put its speed and transition game to work, generating several early chances. At 5:21, Quinn Hutson, skating behind the UConn net passed in front to Ryan Greene for a quick shot past goalie Ethan Haider. The Huskies’ coaches, however, challenged the play as offside and, following a review, the goal was disallowed.

Despite a 15-9 shot advantage, it seemed BU would have nothing to show for it until Tuch scored late in the period. As a Terrier power play was ending, Tuch took a pass from Wilmer at the left point, sped down the boards and around the net to jam home a wraparound for his eighth goal of season.

BU nearly doubled the lead in the final minute of the period when Jack Harvey set up Shane Lachance’s one-timer from the left circle that rang off iron.

It didn’t take long in the middle period for BU to connect on a second goal. Devin Kaplan, with a power move, circled through the neutral zone and fended off three Huskies before feeding Wilmer who was entering the offensive zone. He closed to the right dot and fired a wrist shot high over Haider’s glove for his sixth goal of the season and his third in the last five games. Zabaneh had the second assist.

A Terrier power play late in the period produced two shots on goal and Greene’s shot off the post, but the score remained 2-0 after forty minutes. If the Huskies had any hopes of a third-period comeback, BU put them to rest quickly, dominating the final 20 minutes with four goals and a 13-3 shot advantage.

Just under four minutes into the period, Celebrini and Lachance worked a give-and-go to perfection. From the neutral zone, Celebrini sent his fellow freshman an indirect pass as Lachance crossed the blue line. His return pass to Celebrini in stride set up a rifle shot from the left dot that flew under Haider’s glove. It was Celebrini’s 26th of the season.

BU added a fourth goal at 8:12. Tom Willander skated into the offensive zone, circled the cage and dished the puck to Wilmer, who went around the cage in the opposite direction. His pass in front found Quinn Hutson who wasted no time firing the puck into the top right corner.

Zabaneh joined the goal scoring parade at 12:32. Kaplan and Wilmer exchanged passes before Wilmer slid the puck to an unmarked Zabaneh racing to the right side of the net. He one-timed it past Haider’s glove for his sixth tally of the season.

The senior from Toronto, who was flying all night and had a team-high six shots, wasn’t done. With the teams playing 4-on-4, Mick Frechette, filling in for injured Ty Gallagher, passed to Wilmer at center ice and he dropped the puck to Zabaneh racing at top speed up ice past defenders. His blast from the left dot ripped past back-up goalie Matt Pasquale who had relieved Haider. Of Zabaneh’s seven goals, six have come in February and four in the last two weekend series.

For Caron, the 23-save shutout was his second of the season. He blanked New Hampshire, 3-0, on January 13. In the sweep of UConn he stopped 59 of 60 shots, lowering his GAA in conference games to 2.19 and overall to 2.35.

“I thought he had a great weekend,” Pandolfo said of his “ironman” goalie. “Last night, a tough building, lots of pucks to the net. He was excellent last night and to get a shutout tonight going into the break, good for him. He was really good for us.”

Regarding Wilmer, who now has 35 points, exceeding last season's total of 32, he said, "He was excellent tonight, arguably our best player. It just seemed like every time he had the puck he was going to make a play. When he moves his feet, he creates so much offensively because he can find any pass."

Pandolfo has been asking his team to be more productive in 5-on-5 situations and they did that with 10 of the 12 weekend goals coming at even strength. He’s also been looking for scoring balance and, with goals from all four lines on Saturday and three of four Friday, he’s getting that, too.

“It was a great weekend for us. We’re getting production from everyone,” Pandolfo said. “We have a lot of depth. All four lines are contributing for us, all our Ds, so it’s been great to see.” recap and box score

Highlights and post-game comments from Pandolfo, Wilmer & Caron

Boston Hockey Blog BU sweeps UConn behind Caron shutout, Wilmer’s five points

The BU Band performed on the ice between the second and third periods.

Looking ahead

2025 recruit Jack Murtagh scored his 15th goal in the NTDP U17s 3-1 loss to Lincoln. 2026 recruit Carter Amico assist on the goal. Murtagh, with 33 points, is second in scoring on the U17s, a point ahead for fellow recruit Conrad Fondrk and two ahead of Charlie Trethewey.

USA Hockey recap

2025 recruit Callum Hughes scored his 20th goal and added an assist as West Kelowna was edged by Coquitlam, 3-2

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