BOSTON—After Macklin Celebrini beat Jacob Fowler with 2:11 left in the third period of the 293rd Battle of Comm. Ave., Agganis Arena erupted. Some goaltenders would struggle under that heavy pressure, especially when tasked with shutting down the then-No. 1 team in the country.
After giving up the goal to Celebrini, Fowler locked in and made two more saves, including a crucial glove save on Lane Hutson as time was expiring to prevent overtime and complete No. 2 Boston College men’s hockey sweep of No. 1 Boston University.
“They put so much pressure on the crease,” BC head coach Greg Brown said. “They’re looking for backdoor passes all the time, throwing pucks to that back post. [Fowler] held strong several times with his legs to be able to keep just not getting pushed in and keep rebounds after they got one or two whacks at it after that initial cross pass so he was on top of his game tonight.”
The Eagles (18–4–1, 11–3–1 Hockey East) defeated BU (16–6–1, 11–3–1) thanks to 32 saves from Fowler and goals from Gabe Perreault, Lukas Gustafsson, Cutter Gauthier, and Will Smith.
Just as the Terriers did in the front half of the series, BU started the game off energized, but the Eagles were able to parry the initial Terrier attack just as they did the night prior.
The dynamic of the period rapidly switched when Ryan Leonard drew a pair of penalties to put BC in a 5-on-3 situation. For the first 54 seconds of the 5-on-3 time, the undermanned Terriers frustrated the Eagles. At one point, penalty killer Sam Stevens lost his stick, essentially giving BC a 5-on-2. The Eagles failed to score on that chance, but with eight seconds left in the 5-on-3 time, Smith found Perreault at the backdoor, and Perreault put it past BU goaltender Mathieu Caron for a 1–0 lead.
“We know [the Smith line] can produce offense,” Brown said. “They just have a great feel for each other and togetherness so they talk so well. I was happy the way they weathered the storm.”
With 8:39 left in the period, seven seconds after BU got back to even strength, Lukas Gustafsson fired a wrister past Caron to double the BC lead.
The Terriers would not go down without a fight, though, as they beat what was then the nation’s second-most efficient penalty kill with 14.5 seconds left in the period when Ryan Greene found Shane Lachance right in front of Fowler’s net. Greene made no mistake putting the puck up and over Fowler to cut BC’s lead to one.
Just as they did in the first, the Terriers came out on fire in front of their home crowd in the second period, and this time they were rewarded for it. The Terriers evened the game up on a similar play to their first goal, with Luke Tuch finding Stevens just 3:39 into the frame.
BU got the better of most of the remainder of the two periods, outshooting the Eagles 14–6, with BC relying time and time again on Jacob Fowler to keep the game knotted up.
One of those six shots was recorded when Gauthier fired a wrister past Caron on the rush, retaking the lead for BC and giving Gauthier his second goal of the series.
After Fowler made a clutch save on Dylan Peterson late in the third period, both the momentum and the puck shifted in BC’s direction, culminating in a Smith snipe with 6:15 left in the game.
“It was a great save by Fowler at one end, and we go down and we’re able to convert,” Brown said.
Celebrini scored with his net empty, but BC remained unwavered and managed to hold its lead.
“A lot of guys spoke,” Brown said of the team’s morale after Celebrini’s goal. “There was great energy on the bench, so that was nice to see.”
After making the save on Hutson, Fowler threw the puck into the corner as time expired.
In celebration, the Eagles left the bench and swarmed him at his net after they locked in a sweep of the No. 1 team in the country and their archrivals.
“Anytime you’re in games like that against a very good opponent, you gain a little confidence knowing you can have success in those situations,” Brown said. “It only gets more tight and harder, everything from here on out the rest of the season. So when you have success in situations like that, just know that it can be done.”