Third period push sends Northern Michigan past BU in series finale

Case McCarthy works his way into shooting position. Photo by Emily Hunter.

In the second half of a two-game series at Agganis Arena, the Boston University men’s hockey team was knocked off by a strong third period from the Northern Michigan Wildcats.

“The lessons…learned this weekend will go a long way this season,” said BU senior forward and captain Patrick Curry.

Before the puck was dropped, sophomore goaltender Vinnie Purpura was named the starter in net for BU (1-1-1), replacing graduate transfer Sam Tucker to make his first appearance of 2019-20.

“It’s a competition,” said BU head coach Albie O’Connell about the status of the goaltender position. “Vinnie deserved a turn.”

Northern Michigan (2-1-1) also deployed a different netminder for game two of the doubleheader, with sophomore Nolan Kent replacing freshman John Hawthorne.

BU drew first blood six minutes into the game, when senior forward Patrick Harper notched his second goal of the weekend.

Taking a feed from freshman defenseman Dom Fensore, the assistant captain did the rest, finding a soft spot in the Wildcat defense and whipping one top shelf to give BU the lead.

“A lot of [freshmen] are contributing at a high level,” said O’Connell about the dynamic Fensore and his fellow first-year Terriers.

After surviving a penalty halfway through the opening frame, BU would surrender an equalizer when NMU senior forward Darien Craighead took a faceoff win and fired one through Purpura’s five-hole to level the score.

BU’s top line came close to regaining the lead late, but it was the visitors who took the 2-1 advantage with just under two minutes to play in the period.

On a quick rush into the Terrier zone, sophomore forward Vincent De Mey picked up a drop pass and shoveled a wrister from long range that found its way into the back of the net.

With a few chances on the man advantage to conclude the period, BU would hit the first intermission holding a 9-8 lead in shots on goal, but trailing 2-1.

Sophomore forward and assistant captain Logan Cockerill would leave the game with an injury towards the end of the first period, and did not return.

“It wasn’t helpful to lose a guy early…but we’re not here to make excuses,” O’Connell said.

The Wildcats began the second frame on the front foot until BU’s red-hot captain made his mark just past the period’s halfway point.

After jarring the puck loose with a hit earlier in the shift, Patrick Curry got to the goalmouth and tipped in a long drive by Fensore to notch his fourth goal of the young season.

“I just think I’ve been putting myself in the right places at the right times,” said the captain on his three-game goal streak.

NMU freshman Hank Sorenson earned himself a game misconduct with a five-minute major penalty shortly after Curry’s tally, but BU could not capitalize.

Level at two, BU and NMU headed to the second break with the hosts still narrowly ahead in shots on goal, 20-19.

It was an impressive middle 20 minutes for the keeper Purpura, who made 12 stops; the most of any BU keeper in a single period thus far this season.

The Wildcats would eventually get past Purpura again two minutes into the third period, when Griffin Loughran was left unmarked at the left post and made no mistake on the tap-in finish.

In order to prevent future defensive breakdowns, Curry said “[it’s about] making sure that we’re committed to playing team defense and everyone’s on the same page.”

At the 6:21 mark, BU graduate forward Alex Brink was ejected for a hit along the boards. During the ensuing five-minute major, Vincent De Mey cashed in with a rocket for his second goal of the game.

“Our penalty kill is something that we need to work on,” said Curry, a core member of BU’s special teams group.

Trying to mount a comeback, the Terriers would claw one back with 2:07 to play when freshman forward Trevor Zegras potted his first collegiate goal.

Sophomore forward Jake Wise had the first crack at Kent in net after the pass from Harper, and Wise’s rebound fell to Zegras, who buried it from a tricky angle to keep the Terriers alive.

“He’s gotta shoot the puck more, because he can score,” said Coach O’Connell, who already loves what he sees from the top-ten draft pick.

Tight offsides calls would prevent BU from finding a rhythm with Purpura pulled in the final moments, and by the time the Terriers could set up a six-man attack, it was too little too late.

NMU would hold on for the 4-3 win, concluding their trip to Boston with the lone victory of the hard-fought series after game one ended in a 4-4 tie.

“We’ve scored seven, we’ve scored four, and we’ve scored three,” recounted O’Connell from BU’s three games this season. “If you told me that at the beginning of the year, I would have thought [we’d be] better than 1-1-1.”

The Terriers will look to bounce back next weekend when they travel to UMass Lowell on Friday, and return home to face UNH on Saturday.

Live Blog: BU vs. NMU, 10/19 at 7pm

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In the second tilt of a weekend doubleheader, BU will take the ice against Northern Michigan tonight at Agganis Arena.

Game one of the series slipped away from the Terriers late, as the hosts surrendered a three-goal lead in the third period to tie 4-4 through a scoreless overtime. With the series on the line, BU will look to get the last laugh when they return to the ice tonight.

Once again, we will have constant coverage of the game straight from the press box. Join our live blog to follow along and chat with your fellow Terrier fans!

Puck drop is at 7pm, and our live blog coverage will being at 6:50. See you there!

Despite strong offensive effort, BU ties Northern Michigan 4-4 in home opener

The Terriers celebrate a goal in their home opener on Friday night. Photo by Emily Hunter.

In their 2019-20 home opener at Agganis Arena, the Boston University men’s hockey team nearly doubled Northern Michigan University in shots on goal, but could not find a winner in the 4-4 tie on Friday night.

“I thought we played well enough to win, but you have to close the game out,” said BU head coach Albie O’Connell, whose team led for much of the contest.

It was a dream start for the visiting Wildcats (1-1-1), who scored just 62 seconds in when junior forward Joseph Nardi knocked in a loose puck from the edge of the crease.

“When you score first…you feel good about how you’re playing,” said NMU head coach Grant Potulny, whose team came to Boston off of a win over Michigan State six days prior.

BU (1-0-1) would respond to the early deficit nearly instantly, when senior forward Patrick Harper whipped home the equalizer on the man advantage.

It was the assistant captain’s first goal of the year, with freshman forward Trevor Zegras providing the feed across the attacking zone, and junior defenseman David Farrance earning the second assist.

“I thought [Harper] really worked hard on both ends,” said O’Connell.

Just three minutes later, Farrance gave BU the lead with a wrist shot from range. It was his second goal in as many games, coming off passes from graduate forward Alex Brink and sophomore forward Jake Wise.

“[I’m] just feeling pretty confident,” said Farrance. He feels he has benefitted from “a little different look on the offensive side of things.”

Farrance would go on to miss the third period due to cramps, according to Coach O’Connell.

With exactly six minutes left in the opening frame, junior forward and assistant captain Logan Cockerill doubled BU’s advantage with a power play tally of his own.

After taking the puck from Wise, freshman forward Robert Mastrosimone uncorked a rocket on net, which Cockerill tipped on its way in. BU’s third goal marked the first of the season for the assistant captain.

Reacting to the two-point game for Jake Wise, who missed the majority of last season with an injury, Coach O’Connell said, “[it] seems like every day he’s getting more confident.”

Having responded well from the early NMU goal, BU headed to the first intermission with a 13 to five shots on net advantage and a two-goal cushion.

“I thought, on balance, we played really well,” said O’Connell after the game.

The second period started and ended with fewer fireworks than the first, but BU did get the period’s lone goal from their captain eight minutes in.

Parked at the back post, senior forward Patrick Curry pounded in his third of the season to make the lead four. The goal was set up by quick passes from Zegras and freshman defenseman Alex Vlasic, whose assist marked his first collegiate point.

“He’s been rewarded for his hard work,” O’Connell said of Curry, the team’s leading scorer.

The period would be halted several times due to official’s timeouts, but when the clock finally hit zeros, the Terriers had a 4-1 lead and a 27-10 advantage in shots on goal.

About the frequent delays that prolonged the period, O’Connell said, “it was frustrating, standing there waiting. Sometimes we didn’t know what we were waiting for. Hopefully that will be better.”

Into the third period, the Wildcats got one back six minutes in when sophomore defenseman Vincent de Mey unleashed a laser on the power play. Less than a minute later, junior forward Caleb Schroer snuck one in from up close to bring the visitors within a goal.

After a series of great looks for BU, it was Northern Michigan who found the game’s eighth goal to tie it with 2:17 remaining when senior forward Darien Craighead found space for a tap-in to the left of BU graduate goaltender Sam Tucker.

We can’t let swings like that happen in games,” said Farrance of surrenderring the three-goal lead. “We gotta stay on the right pattern and finish games out a little stronger.”

Level at four, the teams headed to overtime, and traded penalties in the additional five minutes. Tucker, who made 16 saves in the game, came up with a sprawling stop late to keep BU in it, and while Terriers poured on pressure late, they could not find a winner.

“To end up with a tie with them…was probably fortunate for us,” said Coach Potulny regarding the flurry of chances BU had just before the final horn.

Despite BU outshooting NMU 39-20, the game would finish as a 4-4 tie.

“We’ll learn,” said O’Connell about allowing NMU to come from behind to earn a tie. “We’ll just keep getting better.”

For the second-year coach, there is no reason to panic after letting one game slip away.

“I really like the way we play,” said Coach O’Connell after the game. “I really love the team.”

The Terriers and Wildcats will settle the series on Saturday night when they meet on the Agganis Arena ice at 7pm.

Three Takeaways from Friday’s tie with Northern Michigan

The Terriers celebrate Logan Cockerill’s first goal of the season. Photo by Emily Hunter.

The Terriers skated to 4-4 tie against Northern Michigan on Friday night. Heading into the third period with 4-1 lead, BU lost their cushion as NMU was able to pot three in the third to send the game to overtime, which would finish scoreless. Be sure to check out Brady Gardner’s full recap of tonight’s action!

Without further ado, here are my three takeaways from tonight’s disappointing, albeit not the end of the world, results:

1. Defense looks strong in the attacking zone, but needs to tighten up in their own end.

The defensive group was extremely involved in the offensive attack tonight, especially David Farrance, who scored his second of the year and notched an assist. At times both defensemen on the ice seemed to join in on the cycle, specifically with the top forward trio, with the movement creating a dazzling five-man cycle in the offensive zone. Farrance, Case McCarthy, and Dom Fensore were all active on the rush for the Terriers as well.

“It’s a new group with a lot of young guys,” Farrance said after the game. “They’re all great players obviously, a real good skating group. I think we all just connect really well together.”

However, while that was all well and good for the Terriers tonight, there were several lapses in defensive-zone coverage that were costly for the Terriers. Cross-ice feeds to wide-open skaters led to the third and fourth goals for the Wildcats. Albie O’Connell’s group got exposed on several occasions in their own end, and McCarthy and Fensore were each minus-three on the night.

“We had some lapses, and we’re a young team,” O’Connell noted. “So, we’re going to make some mistakes.”

2. Power play and first line on their game.

Patrick Harper, Patrick Curry, and Trevor Zegras were on a tear tonight. Zegras notched two assists, one coming on the power play, while Curry and Harper each tallied a goal. The top line’s performance tonight was highlighted by a beautiful tic-tac-toe passing play between Zegras and freshman D-man Alex Vlasic that led to Curry’s tap-in goal.

The power play also had two goals on four chances tonight with crisp movement all around as Harper and Logan Cockerill each got on the board in a high-scoring first period. Jake Wise and Robert Mastrosimone quietly had strong evenings with Mastrosimone picking up an assist on the man advantage in addition to one of Wise’s two assists coming on the power play as well.

“The first line’s a pretty talented group. I thought the line did well tonight,” O’Connell described. “[Harper] worked hard at both ends of the ice, and [Curry] led the team tonight.”

3. BU absolutely should have won this game, which is stating the obvious.

The Terriers have to be pretty frustrated with how the game ended tonight as they let the win slip away. Farrance and the rest of O’Connell’s squad don’t have too much time to dwell on things, though, as they turn around right away with a rematch tomorrow night at Agganis.

“I think we flush this one down the toilet,” Farrance said during his postgame availability. “It’s a bit of a sour feeling, but we just have to focus on winning the game tomorrow.”

“Like I said we’re a young group, so we gotta learn from our mistakes,” Farrance went on. “We can’t let swings like that happen in games. We gotta stay on the right pattern and finish games out a little stronger.”

“I thought we played well enough to win,” O’Connell continued. “We’ve got to close it out.”

*Home Opener* Live Blog, BU vs. NMU – 10/18/19

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The Terriers (1-0-0) make their 2019-20 Agganis Arena debut against the Northern Michigan Wildcats (1-1-0) tonight! Before you do anything, don’t forget to read our latest articles to get all caught up before the puck is dropped.

When BU finally takes home ice, you won’t want to miss a second of the action! Join our live blog for constant game updates and conversation with fellow BU hockey fans from the seats of Agganis Arena and all across Terrier Nation.

Puck drop is set for 7:30pm, and our coverage will begin at 7:15pm. See you there!

Notable Quotes from Coach O’Connell before NMU series

Here’s what BU head coach Albie O’Connell shared during his press availability earlier today.

On the significance of the home opener…

“You always want to be good at home. If you win your home games and you play pretty good on the road – .500 hockey – that’s a pretty good [model for success].”

“We’re looking to try to establish our game in the first period and try to get the crowd into it, and hopefully we’ll give the hometown fans something to cheer about.”

On Northern Michigan…

“They’ve got a good group. They’ve got a good blend. They’ve got some big guys who are strong and physical and…they’ve got some smaller guys who are really dynamic.”

“They’re highly competitive, they’re well-coached. They play real hockey, they’re not a dump-and-chase team.”

On playing after a two-week break…

“[NMU] played two competitive games last week and we didn’t. Hopefully we can get through the first five, ten minutes…and get -the guys] comfortable in another game.”

“As the game wears on, I would think hopefully we’ll get better and better and hopefully the sharpness is there early.”

BU gears up for home-opening weekend series against Northern Michigan

After an impressive season-opening win against Union College two Saturdays ago, the Boston University men’s hockey team will suit up against Northern Michigan University in a two-game weekend series to mark their return to Agganis Arena.

Head Coach Albie O’Connell’s boys are ready for their first home game of the season. 

“The guys are … pretty hungry to play,” O’Connell said. “If you can’t get up for [the home opener], it’s not a good thing.”

Despite preseason concerns about filling the holes left by departed Terriers (1-0-0), BU’s offense looked just fine in their season debut with five different goal scorers emerging in the Union game. 

The Terrier defense also impressed in the opener, calming the defensive zone after surrendering a pair of first period goals and holding the Dutchmen to just a handful of shots through the final 40 minutes.

Metropolitan College graduate student Sam Tucker earned the start in net for his first game wearing scarlet and white. Despite allowing three goals on 13 shots on the night, the former Yale University Bulldog did come up with some timely stops when called upon.

The win certainly did plenty to sway neutrals in favor of this unproven Terrier roster. After the victory, BU jumped to 20th on the USCHO.com national Division I poll, and have held that spot through the most recent release of the rankings.

As expected, O’Connell and his Terriers are ignoring the outside noise they have created.

“The guys were excited about winning, but they know it’s just one game,” the second-year head coach said.

While BU come in with confidence, the Northern Michigan Wildcats (1-1-0) have reason to feel strong as well. Hailing from the WCHA, NMU split their season-opening series with Michigan State, falling 5-3 in game one and coming out victorious 2-0 the next night.

The Wildcats bring plenty of offensive spark to Boston. Senior forward Darien Craighead tallied 10 goals and 10 assists last season, while now-sophomore Griffin Loughran notched seven goals and 11 assists to lead all Wildcat freshmen in goals, assists and points. 

NMU’s attack is dangerous, but not all of their offense comes from their forward group. Among other offensively-skilled blueliners, senior defenseman Philip Beaulieu ranked first on the team with 29 assists in 2018-19.

There has not been any confirmation as to who will take the starting spot between the pipes for BU against the talented Wildcat attack, but all signs would point towards Tucker getting the nod for his second start, at least in game one of the doubleheader.

The same situation applies for the goaltender position on the other side of the ice. Through two competitive games, the Northern Michigan crease has been split between sophomore Nolan Kent and freshman John Hawthorne.

It has been a long time since the Terriers and Wildcats have shared the ice. Their last meeting came in 2002, resulting in a 4-4 tie. In 2002, the 43-year old O’Connell was only three years removed from his senior season with the Terriers when he served as captain.

Long-time fans may also remember when BU and NMU squared off in the 1991 Frozen Four finals. The game would be an instant classic, finishing 8-7 in triple overtime, with Northern Michigan ultimately finding the winner and taking home their first national title in program history.

It is somewhat uncommon to have two weeks scheduled in between a team’s season opener and their second fixture. While the delay may be frustrating for a team on good form, O’Connell and his Terriers are focusing on the benefits.

“It’s kind of brutal [that we] don’t get to play another game, but at the same time, it’s not bad to get some rest,” O’Connell said.

Ready for action, BU will make their Comm Ave debut on Friday at 7:30 p.m. before settling the series on Saturday at 7 p.m.

Follow all the action both nights through the Boston Hockey Blog’s live blog, which can be found on Twitter @BOSHockeyBlog and our website, hockey.dailyfreepress.com.

Terrier Hockey Talk, Episode 4 – 10/15/19

In this week’s episode of Terrier Hockey Talk, Brady Gardner and Paige Mautner react to a challenging weekend for BU women’s hockey, and preview their upcoming games in Hockey East play. They also look ahead to the men’s team’s home-opening series with Northern Michigan, and share their confidence in the team going into the two-game set. To close, they check out the latest national rankings.

Before the Terriers hit the ice this weekend, make sure you’re up to date by listening to Terrier Hockey Talk!

A Scouting Report on Northern Michigan for home-opening weekend

Ahead of this weekend’s doubleheader between BU and Northern Michigan, I did some digging to find recent video of the visitors. After all, it’s been a long time since the Terriers and Wildcats faced off – some dedicated fans may remember the 1991 Frozen Four finals when Northern Michigan took home their first D1 title in program history with an 8-7 victory over BU in triple overtime. To give you some perspective, I would not be born for another nine years after that game. Yikes.

Let’s get back to this season, shall we? After a 4-3 win against the USA U-18s, Northern Michigan opened competitive play by hosting Michigan State in a two-game set last weekend. The Spartans took game one 5-3, but the Wildcats earned a series split with a 2-0 win the next night. They will come to Boston unranked, but did garner 12 votes in the USCHO poll last week.

Based on the footage I could find from the two games online, here is my scouting report for the Wildcats. Of course, all opinions are my own.

Aggressive on Both Ends

Maybe I’m a sucker for the video highlights, but man, can these Northern Michigan guys hit. Watching just one game’s set of clips felt like I was watching a team’s “best hits” compilation from an entire season. When they’re not lighting guys up in the neutral zone or along the boards, the Wildcats are knocking bodies around in the dirty areas of the ice, flying into the corners for loose pucks and crashing the net for rebounds. They also attack in groups, often forechecking in bunches and smothering opponents with the number of oncoming skaters alone. While overcoming this aggressive tactic will be a challenge, if BU can break through that first wave of forecheckers, the Wildcats could be left undermanned in the defensive zone. Their defense likes to get in on the action as well, so swift, effective passing and skating on breakouts could set BU free when the Wildcat defensemen jump up.

Bombs Away

By the looks of it, these Wildcats will shoot from anywhere, and the defensemen in particular are just as aggressive with their shooting as they are with their checking. Firing off slapshots from distance and putting bodies in front of the net has already proven to be a dangerous combination for Northern Michigan, who found success against Michigan State by employing this strategy. BU’s big bodies on defense will be tested by the Wildcats’ relentless net-front presence, and they will have to work hard to keep the goalmouth clean and allow clear sightlines for their goalie against those efforts from long range. At the same time, BU’s forwards will have to be quick to close down defensemen entering the attacking zone. Positioning themselves in shooting lanes will be crucial for the Terriers towards preventing Wildcat blueliners from launching 60-foot rockets until they find pay dirt.

Shaky Goaltending

Northern Michigan appears to have a major question mark between the pipes in the form of two underclassmen comprising their goaltending ranks for 2019-20. Sophomore Nolan Kent had a home opener to forget, allowing four goals on 20 shots – and not the prettiest shots at that. Kent didn’t look particularly strong with his post-to-post moves, and looked even less convincing when leaving his crease – on one occasion, a poor control behind the net allowed a Michigan State forechecker to steal the puck effortlessly and stuff it into the gaping net. A freshman keeper, John Hawthorne, kept a shut-out for Northern Michigan in game two, but was only tested with 15 shots. I expect we’ll see each netminder once over the two games this weekend, and if the early-season struggles continue, BU should look to exploit this point of weakness by peppering shots on goal and forcing the keeper to leave his crease often.

Those are my thoughts regarding the opponent this weekend – what are yours? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

This Week in Women’s Hockey: October 7-14

Junior goaltender Corrine Schroeder makes a stop. Photo by Emily Hunter.

By Cara Mooney

This past weekend, the Boston University women’s ice hockey team got their first cracks at Hockey East competition when they hosted Merrimack College (2-2-1, 0-2-1 Hockey East) Friday night in their home opener, then traveled to the University of New Hampshire (3-1-1, 2-0-0 Hockey East) Saturday afternoon. 

Star forward Jesse Compher did not suit up for either game this past weekend due to a lower-body injury. Her status for this upcoming weekend remains unknown, as BU’s head coach Brian Durocher said she is day-to-day.

Prior to puck drop against Merrimack, the Terriers (1-1-1, 0-1-1 Hockey East) raised a banner to honor the 2019 Beanpot championship team. 2019 graduates Mary Grace Kelley and Reagan Rust returned to help lift the banner into the rafters, as well as members of the 1981 team that claimed the school’s first Beanpot title.

Once the puck was dropped, BU freshman forward Julia Nearis tallied her first collegiate goal before senior captain Natasha Tarnowski also scored, forcing the game to a 2-2 tie which would prove to be the final score. Junior goaltender Corinne Shroeder stopped 21 of 23 Warrior shots on goal in her second start of the season.

Sophomore netminder Kate Stuart took over between the pipes on Saturday in Durham, and made 43 saves in her 2019-29 debut. Goals from senior defenseman Abby Cook and senior captain Sammy Davis would not be enough, as the Terriers fell 4-2.

Looking ahead to this weekend, BU will visit the University of Connecticut (3-1-0, 1-1-0 Hockey East) Friday night at 6pm, and the University of Maine (2-1-1, 0-0-0 Hockey East) Sunday afternoon at 2pm as two of five straight road games on the late for October. 

In their last ten games against the Huskies, the Terriers are 5-2-3. BU beat UConn 3-1 in their last meeting, with seven different Terriers recording a point in the victory. The last time the Terriers faced the Huskies, seven different players for BU recorded a point, including goals from junior forward Nara Elia, sophomore forward Courtney Correia, and sophomore forward Emma Wuthrich.

As for the Black Bears, BU went 1-2 against Maine last season – their win coming from a 3-0 shutout in January. In their last ten games against Maine, BU is 3-7 against the Black Bears. Davis, Compher, and Tarnowski all scored for BU en route to outshooting Maine 42-20 in that contest, which was the last clash between these two teams.

After starting slowly in their early-season Hockey East play this past weekend, BU will look to right the ship as conference competition continues against UConn and Maine.