Sunday, March 31, 2024

UPDATED: Still dancing: A 6-3 win over Minnesota in Regional Final sends BU back to the Frozen Four



A three-goal second period + solid goal-tending + a resilient third period closeout was the formula that produced a come-from-behind, 6-3 win for the #2 Terriers over #7 Minnesota in the Sioux Falls NCAA Regional tournament final.

With the win, BU advances to the Frozen Four in St. Paul on April 11, where they will face Springfield Regional champion Denver in the semifinal. Terriers will be making their second consecutive Frozen Four appearance and 24th overall.

The victory also evens the all-time series between the schools at 13-13-2. Ten of those games have been in the NCAA tournament, including BU's first national championship win in 1971.

BU men's ice hockey team with Saint Paul Frozen Four Ticket


After falling behind 2-0 in the first 17 minutes, BU responded by scoring four of the next five goals to claim a 4-3 edge after two periods and then defended that lead throughout the final 20 minutes.

The back-and-forth contest at the Denny Sanford Premier Center was played before a crowd of 6,113, estimated to be 80% Gopher Fans.  

BU goals came from Quinn Hutson, Shane Lachance, Jack Harvey, Lane Hutson, Case McCarthy and Sam Stevens. Macklin Celebrini assisted on three goals, while Harvey, Lachance, Dylan Peterson, Nick Zabaneh and Tom Willander also registered helpers.

Mathieu Caron delivered another strong effort, stopped 25 of 28 shots and allowing just one goal over the final 42 minutes. He was aided by 18 blocks from his teammates—six by Cade Webber— giving up their bodies to hold on to the lead.

“Really proud of our group,” said Terriers coach Jay Pandolfo.“To get down 2-0 and not get rattled, we just stuck to the game plan.”

He also noted that in the latter part of the season, the Terriers had become much better at closing out games. 

"When you are up by a goal in the third period, you expect the other team to push," Pandolfo explained. "But we played on our toes. We kept pushing, played on our toes. And when they did have a little push, we were there to sacrifice our bodies to block some shots."

Eight of BU's 18 blocks came in the final period.

"To play the way we did in the third, it says a lot about our group,” he added. "Really excited to have the opportunity to go back to the Frozen Four.”  

Terriers had the fast and effective start to the game that was missing in the semifinal win over RIT. BU dominated the early scoring opportunities, but the Gophers were first on the board at 7:19 when Jaxon Nelson took a pass in the right circle and whipped a shot that went off Stevens and sailed past Caron on the stick side.

BU continued to have the edge in possession and shots—including a Stevens one-timer from just outside the crease—but again, it was Minnesota finding the net, ten minutes after its first strike. Bryce Brodzinski, who set up the first Gopher goal, took a Rhett Pitlick pass in the left circle and fired a shot between Webber’s feet that beat Caron on his glove side.

Perhaps the turning point of the game for BU came just 24 seconds later when Quinn Hutson won a puck battle along the right boards in the offensive zone, cut to the net and fired a shot that went of a defenseman's stick and slid under goalie Justen Close’s pads. It was the sophomore wing’s 18th of the season, cutting the lead in half.  Despite a 15-10 shot advantage, BU trailed 2-1 after one.

BU eliminated that deficit early in the second period. When the Gophers defended a BU entry attempt, the puck popped into the air and Celebrini gloved it down as he crossed the blueline.  Celebrini carried the puck deep into the right circle, then whirled and sent a cross ice pass to a trailing Lachance. The big freshman’s wrister flew into the half-open net, knotting the score at two apiece. It was goal #13 for Lachance.

Four minutes later, BU took its first lead of the game. Celebrini sent the puck behind the Minnesota cage, where Lachance outmuscled a defender and while falling, returned the pass. Celebrini quickly dished the puck to Harvey who had found open space in the right circle for a snipe to the top right corner and a 3-2 lead. It was Harvey’s seventh goal and second of the tournament.

The Gophers drew even midway through the period when Aaron Huglen controlled a pass to the slot and scored past Caron, who had slid out of the crease.

The eventual game winner came at the 15:36 mark on a standout individual effort by Lane Hutson. He took Peterson’s pass at the left point, danced to the center point, then went back to his left, cutting through the left circle, and fired a shot off Close’s left skate and into the net for a 4-3 lead. It was his 15th of the season and 30th as a Terrier.

With Close pulled for an extra attacker, Case McCarthy's lofted a puck from the BU goal line that skittered down the ice into the empty net with 1:45 remaining. The captain's fourth goal extended the lead to 5-3.  

A minute later, after BU defended several last gasps from Minnesota, Celebrini won a puck battle along the boards, sending the puck down the ice where Stevens flipped it into the empty net for his 10th goal.

Moments later the Terriers were mobbing Caron.


Celebrini was selected as the Most Outstanding Player of the regional. He joined Caron, Lane Hutson, Harvey and McCarthy on the All-Regional Team. 

With 64 points (32G,32A), Celebrini is second in Division 1 in points and points per game (1.73). He's also now tied with Mike Eruzione, John Danby and Fred Bassi for 15th on the Terrier list of most points in a season.

Lane Hutson, with two goals and an assist in the Regional Tournament, is tied with Denver's Zeev Buium for most points by a D1 defenseman (49).

“He was excellent tonight. Maybe the best game he played all year. He was really good for us. He was driving play, he was doing a bit of everything tonight." Just gives our group confidence. When we see him making plays like that and moving like that, we’re pretty sure we’re going to have a pretty good night.

Harvey, a Minnesota native who is looking forward to going to his home state in two weeks for the Frozen Four, said at the post-game press conference, "I don’t think our group lost confidence at all, even though we were down 2-0. I think we had all the confidence in the world that our group was going to get the job done.”

Neither team drew a penalty in the game. @BUHockeyStats posted that "Last time BU didn't take a penalty was Feb 28th, 2019 vs. PC (1-1 T), last time their opponent didn't take a penalty was Jan 25th, 2020 vs. Lowell (2-2 T)."

● preview and box score

Press conference Pandolfo, Hutson, Harvey (audio)

Video highlights: Six BU goals, Extended highlights

Photo Gallery

● Boston Hockey Blog Terriers defeat Minnesota, 6-3, to earn Frozen Four berth

● College Hockey News BU shows off its versatility in reaching second straight Frozen Four

● USCHO Down 2-0, confident BU rallies to defeat Minnesota

Boston Globe BU rallies past Minnesota to earn return trip to Frozen Four

Looking ahead

2025 recruit Mikhail Yegorov stopped 29 of 31 shots in Omaha's 2-1 loss to Des Moines


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