Odds and ends: Polls, Hockey East Media Day and more

This season, we’re going to try something new. We’re starting a series of articles called “Odds and Ends,” which is exactly what it sounds like — various links, tweets, videos and anything else related to Boston University hockey or college hockey in general that we think might interest you.

Until the season starts, these posts will only be occasional, but once the 2014-15 season gets underway, we’ll have these a few times a week.

-Here’s our recap of yesterday’s Hockey East Media Day, along with videos of comments from David Quinn and Matt Grzelcyk and Evan Rodrigues.

-From the Providence Journal, Providence College head coach Nate Leaman discusses his team being picked as preseason favorites to win the conference.

-BU women’s hockey was named preseason conference favorites, and ranked No. 6 nationally in coaches’ polls released Monday.

-In case you missed it, the results of the Hockey East media poll and our picks for the preseason first team.

-Freshman forward Jack Eichel will be taking over the @USAHockey Twitter account on Wednesday.

-NHL Central Scouting released its “Preliminary Players to Watch List” Tuesday. Names on there include Jack Eichel, A.J. Greer, ’15 recruit Jordan Greenway and ’16 recruit John McDermott.

-One more thing on Eichel and Greenway: They’ll be playing in Thursday’s All-American Prospects Game on Thursday. The game will be broadcasted on NHL Network starting at 7 p.m. EST. If you can’t watch it then, the game will be re-aired on Friday at 1 p.m. and again Sunday at 1 p.m.

-Our annual hockey preview issue will be released on Oct. 9. We’ve already started working on some features and graphics — stay tuned for that!

BU picked 3rd in preseason Hockey East media poll

The Hockey East Writers and Broadcasters Association released the results of its media poll Sunday afternoon, which included its preseason conference rankings and all-conference team. The Boston University men’s hockey team was selected to finish third in Hockey East, with two first-place votes.

Votes were placed by print and broadcast media covering each of the 12 Hockey East schools, in addition to regional and national media.

Here are the complete poll results:

1. Providence College (26 first-place votes) — 414
2. Boston College (8) — 399
3. BU (2) — 309
4. Northeastern University — 305
5. University of Massachusetts-Lowell — 267
6. University of Maine — 256
7. (tie) University of Notre Dame — 231
7. (tie) University of Vermont — 231
9. University of New Hampshire — 171
10. Merrimack — 97
11. University of Massachusetts — 80
12. University of Connecticut — 48

F Ross Mauermann (Providence)
F Kevin Roy (Northeastern)
F Devin Shore (Maine)
D Ben Hutton (Maine)
D Michael Matheson (BC)
G Jon Gillies (Providence)

The three of us each picked BU to finish fourth, with Providence, BC and Northeastern as our top three, respectively. However, we did disagree on our All-Hockey East team picks. You can check out our selections at the bottom of this post.

On Monday, we’ll be at TD Garden for Hockey East Media Day. We’ll livetweet updates over at @BOShockeyblog, and we’ll be sure to let you all know about any important news here.

Andrew’s picks:
F Kevin Roy, Northeastern
F Devin Shore, Maine
F Ross Mauermann, Providence
D Matt Grzelcyk, BU
D Michael Matheson, BC
G Jon Gillies, Providence

Conor’s picks:
F Kevin Roy, Northeastern
F Devin Shore, Maine
F Ross Mauermann, Providence
D Ben Hutton, Maine
D Michael Matheson, BC
G Jon Gillies, Providence

Sarah’s picks:
F Kevin Roy, Northeastern
F Devin Shore, Maine
F Mario Puskarich, Vermont
D Ben Hutton, Maine
D Steve Santini, BC
G Jon Gillies, Providence

Welcome!

Hi Boston Hockey Blog readers,

Welcome to the new and improved Boston Hockey Blog. We hope to use this redesign as an opportunity to bring you an in-depth and interactive reading experience.

Additionally, we’d like to introduce ourselves, since we’re an entirely new beat this year. The three of us all have editorial experience at the FreeP in addition to diverse backgrounds in sports coverage.

Andrew Battifarano is a junior at BU working toward a dual degree in international relations and journalism. He was Sports Editor of the FreeP in Spring 2014, and has covered women’s hockey, softball, women’s basketball and men’s soccer for the paper. He has also interned for NESN.

Sarah Kirkpatrick is also a junior at BU, studying journalism and gender studies. She was Editor-in-Chief of the FreeP in Spring 2014 and was Sports Editor the previous semester. She has primarily covered women’s hockey, cross country and track in her time at the FreeP, and has also interned for the sports department of seattlepi.com.

Conor Ryan is a senior at BU studying journalism. He is currently Sports Editor at the FreeP, and has covered women’s hockey, women’s basketball, women’s lacrosse and women’s soccer. He’s also interned for WEEI.com, and has experience covering the Bruins and Red Sox.

We’re excited to get underway with our coverage this season. We’re always open to suggestions for improving our content and providing the best reading experience possible. Let us know what you’d like to read about BU hockey this year by shooting us a tweet (@BOShockeyblog), email ([email protected]) or comment.

All best,

Sarah, Andrew and Conor

Terriers snag another recruit in ’99 D David Farrance

By Conor Ryan/DFP Staff

It didn’t take long for the Boston University men’s ice hockey team to add another promising recruit to its program, as the Terriers have reportedly received a commitment from ’99-born defenseman David Farrance.

The news comes the same day as Patrick Harper’s announcement of his commitment to BU.

The Victor, New York, native had an impressive 2013-14 campaign with the Syracuse Stars of the United States Premier Hockey League U16 division, compiling 32 points (20 goals, 12 assists) in 28 games – tying him for the team lead in scoring.

The highly touted blueliner has already gotten off to a hot start this year with Syracuse, scoring four goals and adding an assist over the team’s first three games.
Noted for his speed and advanced ability to generate offense, Farrance should be a key contributor to future Terriers teams.

Terriers add ’98-born recruit Patrick Harper

By Andrew Battifarano/DFP Staff

The Boston University men’s hockey team may have its roster in place for the 2014-15 season, but the Terriers continue to add players for the future.

Forward Patrick Harper announced on his Twitter account Friday morning that he has committed to the school, joining forwards Clayton Keller, Kieffer Bellows and Hank Crone as the fourth 1998-born player to do so.

https://twitter.com/Pharper_88/status/510433665264787456

 

The 5-foot-8 forward played midget hockey last season for both Connecticut Oilers and the New Jersey Rockets. In 24 games with the Rockets, Harper tallied 29 points on 13 goals and 16 assists. During the USA Hockey Select 16 Camp this summer, the Connecticut native scored three goals in five games played.

Harper is considered undersized for his position, but has made up for it in skill. He’s known for his strong passing and goal-scoring abilities throughout the offensive zone.

This season the forward will play hockey with Avon Old Farms prep school in his home state.

O’Connell looks to guide men’s hockey back to winning ways

FILE PHOTO/DEREK GEE O’Connell captured four Beanpot
championships during his tenure with the Terriers from 1995-99.

By Conor Ryan/DFP Staff

After more than a decade away, Albie O’Connell has finally returned to Commonwealth Avenue.

The former Boston University men’s hockey team captain joined the Terriers in April as an assistant coach for the 2014-15 season, completing a full-circle move for O’Connell, who is once again affiliated with the same program that he played for almost 20 years ago.

“It’s great. I’m excited,” O’Connell said. “I’m excited for the year to start. I think we’ll have a pretty good team. I think how good guys can get throughout the year and how they improve is going to dictate the outcome of how we end up.”

O’Connell joined the Terriers during the 1995-96 season as a heralded recruit. Over a year before his arrival at BU, the Watertown native was selected by the New York Islanders in the fifth round of the 1994 NHL Draft.

Playing a key role on a BU squad filled with NHL talent such as Chris Drury, Shawn Bates and Tom Poti, O’Connell and the Terriers established one of the greatest stretches in program history in the late 1990s, posting a 97-41-14 record from 1995-99.

While there were many positive takeaways to choose from for O’Connell, his fondest memory of playing for the Terriers was the team’s success in the annual Beanpot tournament. O’Connell and other members of the Class of 1999 are one of only four classes in program history to win four Beanpot titles.

Even though O’Connell was never able to capture an NCAA title, he made two Frozen Four appearances with BU in both 1996 and 1997 – including a loss to the University of North Dakota in the 1997 championship game, 4-2. Captaining the team during his final campaign in 1998-99, O’Connell led his squad in scoring with 39 points (nine goals, 30 assists) in 36 games.

By the end of his career with the Terriers, O’Connell acknowledged that learning under longtime BU head coach Jack Parker helped him grow as a hockey player in multiple areas – mostly due to the completive tone that Parker established from the get-go with his teams.

“He was a great coach,” O’Connell said of Parker. “We had good teams, so it was very competitive. It was setting a high standard and then coming to work and practice every day trying to get better on and off the ice. We held a high standard and he made the practices more competitive. It was very intense. He was ready to go for practice, which led to players being ready to go and be ready to compete everyday.”

While O’Connell may have turned in his scarlet and white sweater in 1999, he did not hang up his skates following his departure from Walter Brown Arena. O’Connell later played professional hockey for four teams in both the East Coast Hockey League and the British National League from 1999-02, compiling 132 points (54 goals, 78 assists) in 127 pro tilts.

Once he put a close to his playing career, O’Connell immediately made the transition from the ice to behind the bench, serving as an assistant coach at Berkshire Prep School in Sheffield during the 2002-03 season before making the move up to the collegiate level the following year at Colby College.

After stints at both Niagara University and College of the Holy Cross, O’Connell entered into the Hockey East coaching ranks in 2007-08 as an assistant coach at Merrimack College before serving the same role over the last six seasons with both Northeastern University (2008-11) and Harvard University (2011-14).

Throughout his coaching career, O’Connell has garnered praise for his recruiting skills. During his time at Northeastern, the Huskies received commitments from both standout Providence goaltender Jon Gilles and 2014 Hobey Baker Award recipient and former Boston College forward Johnny Gaudreau. Both players later de-committed from the program.

For O’Connell, the key to his success in terms of identifying talent is to trust his instincts and to collaborate with the rest of his staff.

“Just going out there and working hard,” O’Connell said. “Using your resources, using what you see and not listening to anyone and trusting what you’re looking at and what your staff is looking at and what you’re trying to do as a group – that’s the biggest thing.

“Working with [associate head coach] Steve [Greeley] and [head coach] David Quinn so far, it’s been really positive. They’ve both been very sharp when it comes to what they’re looking at, and they’re very organized and hard-working, so hopefully I’m a good addition to that.”

While he has excelled at building up multiple teams, O’Connell is certainly no slouch when it comes to instructing his players on the ice. During his first season with the Crimson in 2011-12, O’Connell helped establish the country’s most potent power-play unit, which posted a 27.3 percent success rate.

While the duty of serving as both a recruiter and a mentor has its own set of challenges, O’Connell holds both jobs in equally high esteem.

“They’re both fun jobs,” O’Connell said. “Basically, it’s two different jobs. One, you’re trying to help build the team, the other one, you’re trying to help coach the guys that you were trying to recruit, so they’re both equally tough jobs, but at the same time, both fun and rewarding.”

The journey back to his alma mater has been a long and winding road for O’Connell, but the 38-year-old coach doesn’t have much time to reflect.

With an influx of freshmen already training at Agganis Arena and the season opener almost a month away, O’Connell is diverting all of his energy toward helping a talented group of players achieve the same level of success that he attained almost two decades ago.

“Hopefully, we’re a lot better at the end of the year than at the start, because we’ve got nine or ten freshmen,” O’Connell said. “Practice is going to be important, player development is going to be important…Hopefully at the end of it, we’ll make good strides as a group.”

Men’s hockey adds 4 additional freshmen to complete 2014-15 roster

MICHELLE JAY/FILE PHOTO
Boston University men’s hockey head coach David Quinn will welcome four additional freshmen to his team for the 2014-15 campaign.

By Conor Ryan & Andrew Battifarano/DFP Staff

With a little over a month until the start of the 2014-15 regular season, the Boston University men’s hockey team has finally put the finishing touches on its roster with the inclusion of four more freshmen on the team.

The four new Terriers – two forwards, one defenseman and one goaltender – will help push the final roster to 26 total players.

BU will add another puck-moving defenseman with the arrival of Brandon Fortunato. Playing last season with the United States National Team Development Program U-18 team, Fortunato led all blueliners in points with 39 (three goals, 36 assists) on the year.

The North Hills, New York native, who also played alongside incoming BU freshmen forward Jack Eichel and defenseman John MacLeod, helped the USNTDP squad capture the 2014 International Ice Hockey Federation World U-18 Championship.

The Terriers will also receive a boost on offense with the addition of forward A.J. Greer, an imposing 6-foot-3 presence out on the ice. Greer put up impressive numbers over the last two seasons at Kimball Union Academy compiling 92 points (39 goals, 53 assists) in 61 games.

During the 2012-13 season at KUA, Greer skated alongside current BU sophomores forward Nick Roberto and defenseman Doyle Somerby. Greer, who does not turn 18 until Dec. 14, is the youngest player on the Terrier roster.

Another netminder will join the ranks of the Terriers this season, as goaltender Connor LaCouvee was also added to the team. Playing last season with the Alberni Valley Bulldogs of the British Columbia Hockey League, LaCouvee earned team MVP honors after posting a 2.82 goals-against average and a .920 save percentage.

LaCouvee, hailing from Qualicum Beach, British Columbia, stepped up his game in the BCHL playoffs, putting forward a .929 save percentage in seven games.

Rounding out the list of new players is forward Nikolas Olsson, who last played for the Sioux City Musketeers of the United States Hockey League over the last two years. In 75 games with Sioux City, the Escondido, California, product recorded 23 points off of 13 goals and 10 assists.

The arrival of four new freshmen was not the only news roster-wise for the Terriers Wednesday, as a team source confirmed that defenseman Dalton MacAfee is no longer a member of the team. No reason was given for his departure.

A standout at St. Sebastian’s School in Needham, MacAfee played in 31 games last season for the Terriers, recording three assists while leading all defensemen in plus-minus at -3.

MacAfee is not the first Terrier to depart the team this offseason, as freshman forward Brendan Collier and redshirt sophomore defenseman J.D. Carrabino were cut from the roster in May.

Earlier this year, BU head coach David Quinn acknowledged that a large incoming class would likely force the team to make some roster cuts in order to free up space.

Fortunato, Greer, LaCouvee and Olsson will round out a 10-member Class of 2018 that also includes forwards in Eichel, Chase Phelps and J.J. Piccinich, as well as defensemen in MacLeod, Brandon Hickey and Brien Diffley. The first wave of BU’s incoming freshmen signed their National Letters of Intent back in May.