Pluses and Minuses: No. 11 Terriers rebound with come-from-behind win over Catamounts

It took a bit of a wake-up call from head coach David Quinn, but the No. 11 Boston University men’s hockey team managed to salvage the second half of a home series against the University of Vermont.

Brandon Hickey. PHOTO BY MADDIE MALHOTRA/DFP STAFF
Brandon Hickey. PHOTO BY MADDIE MALHOTRA/DFP STAFF

After falling behind 2-0 early, and then again facing a 3-2 deficit late in the third period, goals from senior assistant captain Matt Lane and sophomore defenseman Brandon Hickey, plus a last-second empty-netter from sophomore defenseman Brandon Fortunato, secured the 5-3 victory for the Terriers.

Initially in this game, it looked like we might have to be a bit grumpy in our pluses and minuses. But BU managed to turn it around, so we get to be cheerful first today:

Pluses

Line juggling
We were admittedly skeptical at first about Quinn’s changes to the lines, but they worked well — at the very least, the changes helped “to wake up the whole team,” in the words of senior forward Ahti Oksanen.

Oksanen, after playing on the first line for most of the season, was bumped down to the left wing on the second line, alongside Lane and freshman forward Jordan Greenway.

“It’s nice having two big wingers like that, those guys protect the puck well, and they get me the puck,” Lane said. “Then Ahti being a shooter, it’s easy to find him, he’s gonna let it rip. He played well, and I’m happy to see him score.”

Sophomore forward A.J. Greer moved up to the first line, alongside freshman center Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson and senior right wing Danny O’Regan. He recorded a secondary assist on O’Regan’s early goal.

Shots
BU recorded a season-high 51 shots on goal, behind six players who recorded four or more shots. Oksanen led the way (shocker) with eight shots, while Hickey and freshman center Bobo Carpenter had seven shots on goal apiece.

Improved power play
After going 1-for-13 on the power play in its past four games entering Saturday — and a night after Quinn called the PP unit “lazy” — BU had a much more impressive showing on the power-play unit.

“There was more urgency, we were shooting it, we looked like a power play,” Quinn said. “There was a heightened awareness…We, too often, go into power-play mode and think it’s going to be a beauty contest.

“The bottom line is you’ve got to get pucks to the net, you got to pass it quickly, you got to pay attention and you got to crash the net. There’s really no other way to go about it, so I thought we had a lot more simplicity to our power play tonight.

Just to clarify: there was a bit of confusion as to exactly how many power-play opportunities BU technically had. Because Vermont winger Brady Shaw was sent off with a game misconduct, after Hickey scored a power-play goal, the Terriers remained on the man advantage — thus, technically, giving BU a fifth power-play opportunity after that.

Then Fortunato scored the empty-netter on BU’s next man advantage. After Fortunato’s empty-netter, there was no faceoff, since the teams were already retreating to the locker room, but those remaining 0.3 seconds apparently technically counted as a new power play for BU, even though nobody touched the puck after Fortunato’s goal.

I just used “technically” a lot in that description, but…you get the idea. “2-for-6” is a bit deceiving. Regardless, it was a much improved showing from the Terriers.

Faceoffs
Carpenter won praise from Greer against Cornell University on Nov. 28, simply for the fact that “he wins draws.”

Well, we couldn’t help but give Carpenter a shoutout for that very fact. Today, he went 6-for-6 on faceoffs, but he currently leads the conference in faceoff percentage, with a .679 mark.

Forsbacka Karlsson went 14-5 on his draws, while Lane went 12-8. As a whole, BU won 38 of 60 faceoffs.

Strong finish to first half?
In the final home game of 2015, the Terriers were able to escape with a win. It’s the final time they’ll play at Agganis until Jan. 9.

After the game, Lane stressed the importance of BU concluding the first half of Hockey East play with a win.

“We definitely could not afford to drop two,” Lane said. “Unfortunately we got a split, and obviously you’d like to win both, but it’s nice to see our resiliency especially after losing a full game and being down the whole game to come back and get a win. So obviously for Hockey East standings and just finishing out the weekend, it’s nice to end on a win.”

Seniors
Quinn stressed the importance of the seniors’ leadership in this game. You can read more about that in Andrew’s sider.

Minuses

Turnovers
That part I mentioned earlier about thinking early on that we’d have to be grumpy in these pluses and minuses? Yeah, we’re at the grumpy point now.

Two goals today came for Vermont off of bad, bad, bad turnovers on BU’s part. The first was on the goal that allowed the Catamounts to take a 2-0 lead in the opening period, when sophomore defenseman John MacLeod gave up the puck to Vermont forward Mario Puskarich behind the net and Puskarich was able to convert.

Later in the third period, with the game tied 2-2, freshman defenseman Charlie McAvoy mishandled a pass from Hickey right in front of BU’s net. He left the puck up for grabs directly in front of sophomore goaltender Connor LaCouvee, and Catamount forward Anthony Petruzzelli took full advantage of it.

Oksanen, a former defenseman himself, noted the slip-ups in the defensive zone.

“Our D-zone coverage has to be better,” Oksanen said. “Those goals scored today were kind of easy bounces we shouldn’t give up.”

Slow start
Yet again, BU fell to a 2-0 deficit early before having to put together the comeback it did. While the Terriers have been able to more or less come away with wins and ties this season, it’s certainly not a habit they want to keep falling into, as Lane noted.

“Yeah, we definitely would rather score the first goal of the game, obviously,” Lane said. “But definitely, we’ve got to start scoring the first goal, we’ve got to win first periods. That’ll help us in the long run, because parity in this league, and the difference in one-goal games is so small.”

100 Club?
After Lane scored the game-tying goal, it was announced that the goal counted for his 100th career point.

Agganis Arena erupted into an ovation, but soon thereafter, a correction was issued. It was actually Lane’s 50th career point.

Oops.

“Yeah, I didn’t know what it was, but I knew it wasn’t 100,” Lane said. “I wish.”

43 thoughts on “Pluses and Minuses: No. 11 Terriers rebound with come-from-behind win over Catamounts

  1. D looking so bad when it was to be one of the nation’s best. When Grizz comes back he should be paired with MacLeod along with Hickey, Fortunato like last year when we almost won a NCAA Championship. Move McAvoy to third D with Somerby as he is very young and is not quite the impact player to be given so much ice time going forward.
    Must find out why we have for the past two years given up late goals when score is tied. That bothers me.

  2. First let me start by saying i am a fan of Macleod. Is it me or is he not hitting or taking the body like he did last year? I hope he is not hurt. With Olsson out we only have a few players that are tough to play against.

  3. Too bad Coughlin didn’t end up at BU, looked pretty good all weekend…Coughlin and Letunov would make a huge difference for us

    • FWIW, he was skating at the team’s open holiday skate with fans yesterday — obviously that’s quite low impact, but promising that he’s at least skating

    • Once we get the official word on Team USA this afternoon, I’ll try and get a full list of who’ll have to miss time due to WJC!

  4. ozzie,
    not for nothing, 17 points in 45 games is more than greer has or greenway will have, or kelly of moran or phelps have, or ballageron post his freshman year has. so don’t turn your nose up at a gift horse etc

    on another note, you must be gleeful that the 4pm games have come to an end

  5. Vinnie, How right you are on the 4pm starts. I hate having a brew with my Wheaties. I am still trying to find someone else that liked these..

  6. Ozzie, I did not find one season ticket holder who liked the 4:pm start time. My son who is member of the dog pound told me the students hated it and many did not bother to go to these games.

  7. Ozzie,
    No idea about Coughlin, assuming there just wasn’t a scholarship available after all…wish we kept alexx so Jarid would’ve ended up at BU also…wish we gave Piccinich more of a chance…and I hated the 4pm starts too.

  8. I really hope next season “Bu ” gets something started like games away tours rent a bus and charge whatever to go to road games such as this weekend and not to mention the support for the team.. I’m pretty sure they can fill a bus or 2 this needs to happen and u will have a good road following. .. just an idea anyone in favor??? Go terriers! !!

  9. Joe, Piccinich is having a good year in the ohl 33pts in 25 games so far.

    Sarah, Any news yet on number 5 and JFK availability with wjc invite.

  10. ozzie, Do not know why a better effort was not made to keep him at B.U. As a forth round draft pick he certainly was not going to the NHL this season.

    • I think Piccinich could have improved and become a regular contributor for this year’s BU team. However, keep in mind his offensive numbers in the OHL are against same or younger talent.

      Interesting to think how going into this past Summer the least of BU’s concerns was their depth at forward. Kevin Duane transfers (although I don’t think he would have played much at BU this season), Sean MacTavish decommits (see Kevin Duane), Kole Sherwood goes to OHL (BU could have brought him in ahead of schedule for this year), Piccinich leaves, Letunov’s admissions issue, and Roberto’s transgressions have seriously cut into the depth up front — and this is bringing Cloonan in a year ahead of scheduled.

      Collectively more depth would have created more competition for playing time as well as provide the team with better ability to weather lack of offensive production from forwards who were expected to be key offensive contributors.

  11. Joe, Alexx was suspended twice by two different coaches and given every opportunity to clean up his act. He failed and at that point there was no other solution. Hopefully he has grown up and learned his lesson.

  12. big roy, unfortunately with no active Friends Group any type of fan road trip would have to be planned by the development office. I would not hold my breath.

    • Larry – Agreed. In the past FOH would have been all over planning pre and post-game events for a road trip like this, with Coach Parker’s blessing. FWIW I firmly believe Coach Quinn is 100% in favor of having such events, but he cedes such decision-making to others (re: Development).

      My understanding is it was suggested to Development on multiple occasions that there should be organized pre-game events this weekend. Unfortunately, no follow-up nor actions on their end to make this happen.

      • It’s a shame what it has become to be honest who and how can we reach about this for future reference? ? I would of absolutely made the trip this weekend

        • Roy – I think it’s become a lot of self-organizing. I believe the Dog Pound has a very large group going this weekend, but it appears they booked their own accommodations and arranged their own transportation.

          IIRC road trips organized by BU haven’t been done in quite a while, but there have almost always been organized pre and post-game events on such trips. This was a missed opportunity; the same goes for the game @ Union back in October.

          Up until last season these events were hosted and mostly funded by Friends of Hockey. Last season that transitioned over to the Development and Alumni Relations staff. They did pre-game events last season at road games @ UCONN, RPI, Wisconsin, Lowell, and before the Hockey East Championship game plus NCAA Regionals games. And obviously the large pre-game gatherings at the Frozen 4.

          The pre-game gatherings I went to last season drew very well, but one difference atmosphere-wise was that instead of the attendees being mostly your core BU fans plus players’ parents, there were many more casual BU fans/alumni whom I feel the administration is trying to better target — but kind of at the expense of long-time fans/donors who cultivated the BU fan base for the past 40-50+ years.

  13. FYI: On Monday I called Quinnipiac and they are completely sold out for Saturday’s game … including standing room only. Yale had about 60 SRO tickets left for Friday’s game.

  14. Personally I was a fan of the 4:00 games, as were most of the season ticket holders I sit with. 5:00 might have been better to make sure other kids activities are done. I also would prefer to see them scattered across the season rather than being front loaded the way they were this year.

  15. On the “Friends” subject, that is not unique to Friends of Hockey, it seems as if development has taken over much of the activities for most of the “Friends of” groups for many of the sports.

  16. Eric, Wow not sure what section you sit in but you are only the 2nd person out more then 50 fans that have stated a positive remark about the 4pm start to me.

    Do they rent the FOH room out to anyone? I see the visiting teams seem to always have it?.

  17. Friend _of _BU_ Hockey
    I agree with your concerns about the depth, especially this weekend. Why did so many players leave , withdraw or change their mind? In my mind there are no excuses for not having enough players!

  18. Friend_of _BU_Hockey
    You are correct about FOH being under the guidance of the development office. It is something that Jack battled with Mike Lynch at the end of his tenure. Jack would never permit Hockey to be treated like every other program and believed a separate group focusing on hockey was part of his plan to maintain the success of the program.
    Under the present regime that no longer exists. The current athletic director has convinced Coach Quinn that development should control all Friends Groups including Hockey.

  19. big roy
    I feel your pain. Perhaps calling or sending an e-mail or letter to the athletic director would be your best bet.

  20. Friend _of _BU Hockey
    Your assessment concerning the long time fan base donors (40-50 years) is 100% correct. I do not think there is much holiday cheer in the air in the development office or in the hockey coaches office this week. As recently I had lunch with a well connected friend.He related to me that The long time fans/donor base is so unhappy that the Hockey Program has lost somewhere between $3 – $7 MILLON in legacy donations !

    • I think in order to sustain a successful fan base beyond a team’s on-ice performance, it’s crucial to find a good balance between identifying ways to engage new fans/donors with the product along with maintaining the core fans/donors who have been there thick & thin. Neither is easy but I think an issue the program might face going forward is if they further alienate the long-time fans/donors nor don’t extend an olive branch towards re-engaging them, it’ll further hurt fundraising down the road because they then need to have to work much harder at recruiting and building a fundraising pipeline when there are people who have, maybe still want to, and have the ability to give $ to the program at the levels needed to sustain the program’s expected excellence.

      I think the inconsistent and sometimes lack of communication from Development about changes in recent years and its impact on fans/donors has made their job a lot harder. Change happens and sometimes it’s needed, but I think it’s absolutely necessary that people who give lots of money and time towards supporting something be at least treated with a certain level of respect for their loyalty and be proactively communicated to so that they feel valued.

      Even though FOH in its previous state no longer exists, I know there are people closely associated who want to and have the means to get more involved to help. Unfortunately their willingness to help is offset by Development pushing back; wouldn’t they WANT alumni volunteers to help represent their efforts? It’s almost like they just want people to give $ and let Development take care of the rest, except they fumble the ball at a rate that – on the Patriots – would get you released.

  21. Eric, I am glad I finally found the one person who likes the 4:pm start time. Unfortunately it was a complete failure as attendance is lower than last year. In particular the early start time did nothing in my opinion but aggravate the fan base and long time season ticket holders.

  22. Eric
    You are correct about development As previously explained is the primary reason Coach Quinn’s two predecessors fought the administration so hard for a strong independent group that would only support and focus on the hockey program. Sadly this no longer exits. In short time that have proven nothing has changed in the development office over the past half century. In my opinion the are still clueless and inept at best.

    • I think in recent years the attitude of the administration has shifted to a “treat everyone – re: every athletic program” equally (although I imagine Wrestling and Swimming/Diving might think differently). But I say that in the context of hockey, which is THE flagship program.

      Hypothetically speaking, what might happen if let’s say, men’s b-ball in the next few years became a rising mid-major power? Could BU promote 2 high-profile programs with minimal compromise to the others? Or would they choose one over the other?

  23. Eric
    I believe that B.U. is the only university that discourages the use of a friends room and rents it to the opposition. Any thing wrong with this picture ?

  24. Friend _of_BU Hockey
    Thank you for putting in words and expressing my thoughts better than I ever could. This is the primary reason I have been extremely critical and outspoken about the current regime. You professionally stated the reason behind my disappointment and eloquently depicted the current state of the B.U. Hockey program. As many 40-50 year cultivated relationships have been destroyed and lost in less than three years.
    Personally I have begin to distance myself from the program. Although I retained my season tickets, because it allows me to spend quality time with my son and daughter , I know longer donate financially to the program. Believe me ,I am one of many older alumni that have the same feelings and have taken similar actions by not renewing season tickets or by stopping financial support to the Hockey program.

    • Larry — I think yours is a good example of the impact the changes in recent years have had. It’s not just about the current state of the program beyond the on-ice product, but the relationships that people forged with the program over several decades. I’m in my 40s and I want BU Hockey to be as great as it can be as I get older, and for the current students and young alumni to enjoy as they get older. Ideally the administration needs to focus on retaining fans such as your kids and their peers to continue being season ticket holders and hopefully become donors to the program.

      Knowing the landscape among the current donor community, most of the larger $ annual donors are older. The reality is at some point those donors will stop giving, yet there doesn’t appear to be much of a pipeline of donors my age or younger whom they’ve cultivated to give annually at the levels wanted and needed. Will they become more dependent on big, one-time gifts that can cover years’ worth of needs? Or can they maintain and grow the community of annual donors through outreach, proactive communication and making each donor feel valued…

  25. Friend _ of _ BU Hockey
    I am not that concerned with the other athletic programs within the university. I am pretty confident that basketball will never be rising a mid power as admissions would not admit student athletes with marginal grades or s.a.t. scores. I know a former player who told me not to expect any dramatic improvement or upgrade in the program.
    Ignoring the flagship program and treating it equally has already been a huge mistake!

  26. Thank you for understanding the current status of the off ice issues that have adversely effected the team. Finally a blogger who gets it. Unfortunately I see no remedy under the current regime. The powers that be have convinced the coach that this is the correct path and unfortunately he believes it. Any opposing point of view is immediately dismissed. In fact over year ago I sent a professionally written letter carefully edited by a former board member expressing my concerns. I received no response.
    Obviously they are not concerned or do not realize the the relationships that have left the building. You are now being led by an inept group that is clearly clueless but is smart enough to convince the coach that this was the way to go in the future.

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