AMHERST – Despite what the final box score read, the Boston University men’s hockey team’s first regular-season game of the 2014-15 campaign against University of Massachusetts-Amherst was a tight contest.
At least for the first two periods.
BU’s offense arrived in the closing stanza, erupting for six goals in the third period en route to an 8-1 victory over the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.
Here’s a look at what went right and wrong for the Terriers Friday night against the Minutemen:
Second line shines
While the Terriers’ third-period outburst was mostly fueled by BU’s first line unit of freshman forward Jack Eichel and junior forwards Danny O’Regan and Ahti Oksanen, BU’s second line unit of sophomore Robbie Baillargeon and senior forwards Evan Rodrigues and Cason Hohmann drew the most praise from BU head coach David Quinn after the game.
“That line was dangerous,” Quinn said. “They could have had three goals in the first period. I thought Rodrigues had a great night, I thought Baillargeon had a great night. We’ve got some depth up front, and those guys are really going to capitalize on their opportunities and they’re going to generate chances.”
The second line made its presence felt throughout the game. Baillargeon opened BU’s scoring at 12:22 in the first period, while Hohmann added a score of his own at 12:39 in the third. Rodrigues finished the night with three assists.
Quinn praised Hohmann’s performance in particular, as the Arlington, Texas, native finished the night with two points while also making plays on the penalty kill, frequently intercepting passes and disrupting UMass’ scoring opportunities.
“I thought it was his best game since I’ve been here. … I thought Cason Hohmann played outstanding tonight,” Quinn said.
LaCouvee impresses in net
Despite only finding out that he was making his first collegiate start early Friday, freshman goaltender Conor LaCouvee put forward a great performance in net against the Minutemen.
Starting in place of junior netminder Matt O’Connor, LaCouvee recorded 33 saves while only allowing one goal en route to his first career win with the Terriers.
Eichel, O’Regan make their mark
Despite its high-powered potential on offense, BU’s first line did not add much on the box score over the first two periods of play. However, the third period was a different story.
Eichel, playing in his first regular-season game with the Terriers, accrued four points in the period, including two goals and an assist in a little over four minutes of play. O’Regan chipped in with two goals of his own – capping BU’s scoring surge with a score at 19:55 in the third. Oksanen led the team in shots with six while assisting on O’Regan’s final goal.
“They’re all good players,” Quinn said of his first line. “They had chances in the first two, but I didn’t think that line was playing great. Then boom, all of a sudden, it was almost like they took the game into their own hands, all of a sudden it’s 4-1. All three of those guys were great, and they all do something very, very well.”
Minutemen’s man advantage snuffed out
UMass was held to just one goal against the Terriers, and it failed to generate many chances during its three power plays – a testament to the performance of BU’s penalty-kill unit. UMass finished 0-for-3 on the man advantage.
“Early on, I thought we might have over-coached the penalty kill a little bit, it looked a little bit sloppy, and then I thought the last two were better. … I thought we got sticks on pucks a lot of time,” Quinn said.
“A lot of times, where you thought, ‘Oh my god, here’s their chance’ and we got a stick on it. Our penalty kill was pretty good and it’s something that we’re going to work on and it will continue to get better.”
MacLeod struggles with discipline
While freshman defenseman John MacLeod handles his own for most of Friday’s game, recording the first assist of his collegiate career on A.J. Greer’s third period score at 17:56, the USNTDP U-18 product also took three penalties, giving UMass its only three power-play opportunities of the game.
After the game, Quinn made note of the disparity between the Terriers and Minutemen in terms of chances on the man advantage. BU did not earn a single power-play chance Friday night.
“ I still can’t believe that they had three power plays and we had zero in the amount of time that we had the puck tonight,” Quinn said. “Sometimes that happens in a hockey game.”
Even though the Terriers netted three goals over the final 10 minutes of play, Quinn acknowledged that his team let their foot off the gas pedal for most of the closing minutes of the game, allowing UMass to build up sustained pressure and scoring opportunities in the BU zone.
Even though the Terriers netted six goals in the final stanza, the Minutemen still had their chances, as both teams recorded 13 shots in the third.
“I think once it got 5-1, we got a little sloppy, and all of a sudden they’re getting some chances, and we’re making cross-ice passes, and getting a little irresponsible and [LaCouvee] bailed us out.”
The perils of I-90
The Boston Hockey Blog crew is also getting a minus for the night, as the treacherous traffic on I-90 stalled us for over 3 and half hours on the way to Mullins Center. Sorry to everyone for our lack of live coverage over the first two periods of play and thanks for your patience.