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(Photo: Matt Dresens)

When it comes to hockey in the city of Boston, there is no greater rivalry than the Boston College Eagles and the Boston University Terriers. It is perhaps on a scale of the Canada and USA rivalry or the 1972 Summit Series between Canada and Russia. To put it simply, they really don’t like each other. And that was on display throughout the entire game as the Terriers hosted the Eagles at Agganis Arena Friday night. The Eagles will return the favor on Monday evening at BC’s Conte Forum. And the memories of these hockey players are long, and some of the dust ups from Friday night’s game will undoubtedly carry over.

Perhaps the most proud moment, before the puck was dropped, was the honoring of the 12 players from the two teams who had represented their countries at the IIHF World Junior Championships, many of whom were teammates and pals a week ago, and would be back to being rivals after the ceremony.

For the BC Eagles, you had:

  • Casey Fitzgerald (NHL Draft – Buffalo) – Team USA
  • Julius Mattila – Team Finland
  • Jesper Mattila – Team Finland
  • Colin White (NHL Draft – Ottawa) – Team USA
  • Joseph Woll (NHL Draft – Toronto) – Team USA

For the BU Terriers, you saw:

  • Kieffer Bellows (NHL Draft – NY Islanders) – Team USA
  • Dante Fabbro (NHL Draft – Nashville) – Team Canada
  • Jordan Greenway (NHL Draft – Minnesota) – Team USA
  • Patrick Harper (NHL Draft – Nashville) – Team USA
  • Clayton Keller (NHL Draft – Arizona) – Team USA
  • Charlie McAvoy (NHL Draft – Boston) – Team USA
  • Jake Oettinger – Team USA

Not only do they represent some Gold Medal winners, but this line up also shows a lot of up and coming talent proving that the NHL will continue to have some of the greatest skilled players in the sport.

BU and BC battling (Photo: Matt Dresens)

Of course, once the ceremony was complete and the puck had dropped, those friendships were put aside and the business at hand was trying to get two important points in the Hockey East conference, as well as beating their biggest rival.

It was clear that both teams not only knew what was at stake, but based on the sounds of the solid and frequent checks into the boards throughout the game, they understood the rivalry.

Sometimes rivalries of this kind can overshadow the teams and cause them to lose focus at what is most important—the win. And if you happen to be a local guy, it can be all the easier to be distracted. Sometimes it’s your inner emotions getting the better of you, but more often it is the outside attention you receive from friends, family and others when the Battle of Comm Ave is on the horizon.

This year’s captain of the Terriers, Doyle Sommerby, is one of those local players who was no stranger to this immense rivalry. Now as a senior and the leader of the team, he has experienced three previous years of this throwdown.

“You’ve really just got to enjoy the moment as best you can. Being a local guy I was probably a little too excited playing my first time against BC,” Sommerby shared after the game. “Every time, obviously, when you play BC it’s a really big game. You get a lot of people you haven’t talked to in awhile texting you, calling you, wishing you luck, and stuff. So, just kind of put aside the outside distractions and just focus and kind of get that first shift under your belt and get back to your game.”

For the first 40 minutes it did appear that the Terriers were not only focused, but motivated. They scored the first goal 3:47 into the second period, as sophomore and Boston Bruins prospect Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson got his ninth of the season, and his sixth of the past three games. He now has a four-game point streak with six goals and two assists.

Less than two minutes later, and just 12 seconds into a power play—the result of a tripping penalty called on Patrick Curry—the Eagles would knot things up. Colin White put it in, for his 11th of the season, while his teammate and fellow WJC alum, Casey Fitzgerald would earn his 10th assist and Matt Gaudreau would get his first.

It was good to see that the quick response by the Eagles did not alter the motivation of the Terriers. They continued to dominate in many ways, making strong plays, though Eagles tender Joseph Woll was clearly up to the challenge. However, as a result of the immense effort of sophomore Jordan Greenway on the forecheck, who is no small player at 6’5”, that caused an Eagles’ defensemen to make a hurried pass, he was then able to battle for the puck behind the BC net and get to Clayton Keller. Keller put it home for the go ahead goal. His eighth of the season, it would end up being the game winner, as both goalies shut the doors on the twine behind them for the remainder of the game.

The Terriers do owe a lot to their freshman goal tender Jake Oettinger, who had to make a number of big saves in the third period to keep his team in the lead. And perhaps in the end it is no surprise that of the eight point earners on the night and the two goalies, seven of them had been standing in that pre-game ceremony.

Hockey is not only alive and well in Boston, but it is largely wrapped up in either a scarlet and white Terriers jersey or a maroon and gold Eagles one.

Post game Terriers Clayton Keller and Doyle Sommerby:

A family historian by profession, Rhonda R. McClure has loved hockey since she was a child in New Hampshire. Any opportunity to combine her love of writing, hockey and research is something she looks forward to with much enthusiasm. She's been accused of seeking out shinny games when there are no other hockey events taking place. She is a member of the Society for International Hockey Research. Follow her on Twitter at @HockeyMaven1917.

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