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Boston Herald
Boston Herald
25 Mar 2023
Rich Thompson


NextImg:BU advances to the Frozen Four with a 2-1 win over Cornell

MANCHESTER, N.H. – The Terrier Trinity of scoring, defense and goaltending elevated Boston University to a 2-1 victory over Cornell in the Manchester Regional final on Saturday night at SNHU Arena.

BU advanced to the Division 1 NCAA Frozen Four for the 23rd time and will face the winner of the Fargo Regional matchup between No. 1 ranked Minnesota and St. Cloud on April 6 at Amalie Arena in Tampa, Fla. The No. 5 ranked Terriers improved to 29-10-0 and are 6-0 in NCAA tournament games played in Manchester.

BU goalie Drew Commesso made 13 saves to record his 25th win of the season. Commesso allowed just two goals in BU’s wins over Western Michigan (5-1) and Cornell to secure the Manchester Regional MVP award.

“It feels great that we all put together that effort and it wasn’t just the last two nights, it was the last two weekends,” said Commesso. “We knew every game going forward is going to be a battle, it was going to be close and it was the little things that made the difference.

“Blocking shots, winning battles, doing the little things. Our coaches have been preaching to us that is what makes a difference.”

The feel-good story of the regional was BU senior right-wing Ethan Phillips, who played on the Terriers first line with Jay O’Brien and Matt Brown. Phillips, who missed 11 games this season with an injury, scored the game winning goal and had a goal and two assists against Western Michigan.

“I am really happy for Ethan,” said BU first year coach Jay Pandolfo. “He had the injury there and he was out 10 to 12 weeks and when he came back and took him a little while to get his conditioning going and get his legs under him.

“For him stick to with it and this weekend, he was a big reason that we won both these games.”

The Terriers took a 2-0 lead when Phillips converted a neutral zone turnover into a breakaway at 7:26 of the third. Cornell goalie Ian Shane (19 saves) handled Phillips’ initial shot from the bottom of the right circle but failed to contain the puck.

Phillips collected his own rebound at the goal crease and wristed the puck glove side for his fourth of the season and second of the regional. Cornell scored a goal with 28.4 seconds remaining to deny Commesso his third shutout of the campaign.

“I got a lot of confidence from my teammates and coaches, they have been supportive the whole time I was coming back from injury,” said Phillips.

BU had its five-on-five operational from the onset, finding open shots from all angles on Shane. Freshman left wing Jeremy Wilmer launched a backhander from the bottom of the left circle at 8:20 that Shane deflected high with a nanosecond to spare. BU maintained extended zone time through repeated line shifts while the Big Red got it first shot on goal at 11:57.

BU was handed the first power play of the game when forward Winter Wallace got lugged for tripping at 15:41. The Big Red successfully managed their 18th straight penalty kill and went on the power play when BU’s Luke Tuch was boxed for roughing. The first period was scoreless when time expired.

BU broke the deadlock on a routine dump and chase at 2:13 of the second. Wilmer got possession from a scrum in the right corner and fed senior forward Wilmer Skook, who was left unguarded on Shane’s goal mouth. Skoog executed a catch and shoot that beat Shane to the near post for his 16th of the season and second of the regional.

“I think we had some chemistry early in the year and it was good to get back with him,” said Jeremy Wilmer. “I saw it hit the wall and I just kind of swooped in to pick up the puck and he was in a great spot.”

The teams executed successful penalty kills before the midway point of the second, but the Terriers required three stellar saves by Commesso and one hit post to preserve their one-goal lead. Cornell caught a break when Quinn Hutson hit the right post on a clean breakaway at 14:15. BU held a 13-11 edge in shots on goal after two.

Boston University defenseman Lane Hutson (20) keeps the puck away from Western Michigan University forward Luke Grainger on Thursday. BU defeated Cornell, 2-1, on Saturday to advance to the Frozen Four. (AP Photo/Greg M. Cooper)

Boston University defenseman Lane Hutson (20) keeps the puck away from Western Michigan University forward Luke Grainger on Thursday. BU defeated Cornell, 2-1, on Saturday to advance to the Frozen Four. (AP Photo/Greg M. Cooper)