Pluses and Minuses: No. 1 BU shut out for first time all year

Junior forward Ahti Oksanen recorded five shots Sunday against Dartmouth. PHOTO BY MICHELLE JAY/DFP FILE PHOTO
Junior forward Ahti Oksanen recorded five shots Sunday against Dartmouth. PHOTO BY MICHELLE JAY/DFP FILE PHOTO

HANOVER, New Hampshire — The No. 1 Boston University men’s hockey team recorded its second loss in three games, as Dartmouth College handed BU a 2-0 loss on Sunday at Thompson Arena. It was the first time the Terriers have been shut out this year.

There were whole lot of negatives to take out of Sunday’s game, but there were a couple of positives as well:

Minuses

Offense (or lack thereof?)
BU had a total of just 10 shots through the first period — easily a season-low, compared to the team’s previous season low of 14 through two periods, against No. 12 Boston College on Nov. 7.

The only two BU players to place more than two shots on goal were freshman forward Jack Eichel (three SOG) and junior forward Ahti Oksanen (five SOG).

The Terriers outshot the Big Green 13-7 in the third period, but recorded no goals for the first time all season.

Missed chances
BU coach David Quinn noted the team’s repeated chances in the opening and closing frames, but the Terriers couldn’t convert on the few chances they received.

“That first line had some unbelievable chances in the first period,” Quinn said about the first line of Oksanen, Eichel and junior Danny O’Regan. “So they [Dartmouth] shut them down on the scoreboard, but if you watch that tape, first period, they could’ve had three goals. It wasn’t that they didn’t get chances. We just didn’t bury them.”

Youth
BU just completed a stretch of five games in 10 days — a tough task for any team, but particularly a team with 10 freshmen. The Terriers are considerably younger than Dartmouth, a team starting just two freshmen on Sunday. BU also just came off a game against No. 9 Colgate University, a team that started only three freshmen against BU.

Quinn brought up the youth of his squad and how it could have been detrimental in the matchup.

“We’re a young team,” Quinn said. “When we’re playing six 18-year-olds and a 17-year-old against a team with that type of skill and maturity, it’s gonna be a battle.”

Pluses

Third period…sort of.

The Terriers’ third-period showing wasn’t exactly comparable to their previous comebacks, including Saturday’s four-goal effort in the third. But Quinn still indicated he was impressed by the team’s effort.

“I was really proud of our third period,” Quinn said. “I thought we had some great chances early, the penalty kill was good. We missed a wide open net in the third period, could have made it 2-1, might’ve changed the whole complexion of the period. But we battled all the way to the end.”

LaCouvee in net
Freshman goaltender Connor LaCouvee got his third start of the season. He recorded 34 saves against the Big Green — the most this season for him — and was arguably the best player on the ice for the Terriers.

“I thought he played very well,” Quinn said about his freshman goalie. “I thought he was sharp, just a couple of blown coverages, puck watching. But he was very good, very good.”

Live Blog: No. 1 BU vs. Dartmouth

Time/Location: 4 p.m./Thompson Arena

Colgate Recap

BU Lines:
Ahti Oksanen – Jack Eichel – Danny O’Regan
Evan Rodrigues – Matt Lane – Cason Hohmann
Chase Phelps – Mike Moran – Kevin Duane
A.J. Greer – Nick Roberto – Tommy Kelley

Matt Grzelcyk – Brien Diffley
Brandon Fortunato – Brandon Hickey
Doyle Somerby – John MacLeod

Connor LaCouvee
Matt O’Connor

Dartmouth Lines:
Brad Schierhorn – Tyler Sikura – Eric Robinson
Brett Patterson – Eric Neiley – Grant Opperman
Jesse Beamish – Charlie Mosey – Tim O’Brien
Jack Barre – Carl Hesler – Kyle Nickerson

Rick Pinkston – Andy Simpson
Josh Hartley – Tim Shoup
Brandon Kirk – Ryan Bullock

James Kruger
Charles Grant

Officials:
C.J. Hanafin
Scott Whittemore
Jason Shattie
Stephen Drain

Live Blog No. 1 BU vs. Dartmouth (11-30-14)
 

Pluses and Minuses: Grzelcyk impresses in No. 1 BU’s comeback win over No. 9 Colgate

Looking to bounce back after seeing its five-game unbeaten streak snapped against No. 18 Harvard Tuesday night, the No. 1 Boston University men’s hockey team once again manufactured another third-period comeback en route to a 5-2 win over No. 9 Colgate University Saturday evening at Agganis Arena.

Here’s a look at what went right and wrong for the Terriers:

Pluses

Grzelcyk makes his mark

He may not have found the back of the net Saturday night against the Raiders, but junior captain Matt Grzelcyk perhaps had the biggest impact for the Terriers in their tilt with their ECAC foe.

The Charlestown native registered a career-high three assists while also finishing the night with a plus-3 rating. Throughout the game, Grzelcyk threw pucks on net, allowing his teammates to capitalize on multiple rebound opportunities, including Danny O’Regan’s quick wrister score at 18:33 to give BU some breathing room.

Paired alongside freshman Brien Diffley on the first D-pair, Grzelcyk also helped quell a Colgate offense that mustered just 17 shots over the final 40 minutes of play.

“Matt had a phenomenal game,” said BU coach David Quinn after the game. “I thought that was his best game of the year. I thought he was immense. Three assists are a reflection of not just his skill level, but his grit and determination.”

Finishing strong … again

Another win, another third-period run by the Terriers. Nothing new to see here.

Facing a 2-1 deficit coming out of second intermission, BU tallied four unanswered goals in the final stanza to earn their ninth win of the year — just one fewer than the team had all of last season.

Freshman forward Jack Eichel got the scoring started just 16 seconds into the period with a wrister that sailed past Colgate netminder Charlie Finn to knot the game at 2-2.

BU would eventually put the game away with two goals from senior assistant captain Evan Rodrigues and junior forward Danny O’Regan, giving the Terriers some momentum going into its game Sunday evening against Dartmouth College.

“I wish I could tell you that we had some secret formula, that we made some masterful adjustments, but that certainly wasn’t the case,” Quinn said when asked about his team’s adjustments in Saturday’s game. “I just thought we got more determined, we got more physical. We were a little bit more abrasive, which we haven’t been.

“It seems like the more … ‘success’ we’ve had, we’ve gotten away from being combative and making people angry. I don’t mean by swearing at them or slashing them. I mean by playing hard, we’re aggravating people and we haven’t done that enough lately. I thought as the game went on, we did a better job of it, but we still have a long ways to go.”

Getting Physical

Throughout this season, Quinn has remarked that the Terriers have struggled with being too “cute” out on the ice and relying too much on talent and trailing away from a physical style of play.

BU went back to basics against the Raiders, and the results showed.

BU crashed the net on multiple instances Saturday night, cashing in on rebound chances generated from players such as Grzelcyk and freshman defenseman Brandon Hickey who recorded six shots on the night.

“I thought we did a much better job getting to the net, there were actually times where we saw that had guys at the net,” Quinn said. “We were wreaking havoc a little bit. The fourth goal, Danny O’Regan standing there. … Danny O’Regan had a great, great night. I know he only had one point, but he was solely responsible for the third and four goal just by standing at the net and taking a beating.

“We need to incorporate that a lot more into our game. I think as this year has gone on, we’ve been a little too cute, a little too fine and we’ve lost that grit factor in our game.”

Minuses

A troubling trend

Fitting alongside the third-period comeback that has served as a prevailing narrative throughout the 2014-15 campaign for the Terriers, BU once again labored over the first 20 minutes of play, compiling just six shots while constantly being battered into the boards by an aggressive Colgate forecheck.

Through 12 games this season, the Terriers have compiled only four first-period goals.

“If we had the answer to that, we’d change that. we don’t know,” Rodrigues said. “We’ve been trying some different things before the game. It’s just a theme that obviously you want to kick, but at the same time, we’re still winning games, so you don’t want to change too much. But obviously it’s something we need to fix by the time February, March and April come.”

Somerby Slumps

While he has made impressive strides from his freshman campaign, sophomore defenseman Doyle Somerby had a night to forget Saturday against Colgate — finishing the game as the only Terrier with a minus rating (minus-1).

The New York Islanders pick was burned on Colgate’s first notch on the scoreboard, as forward Tyson Sprink undressed the Terrier blueliner with a set of dangles before besting BU goaltender Matt O’Connor with a backhand shot at 4:20 in the first to give Colgate a 1-0 lead.

VIDEO: Reactions to No. 1 BU’s win over No. 9 Colgate

(Note: Some water may have gotten into my phone, which is why the quality of these videos is so shaky. I uploaded them anyway, because you should still be able to get the gist of the press conference from them, but I’m very sorry about the random rainbow lines. — Sarah)

BU head coach David Quinn

BU senior assistant captain Evan Rodrigues and freshman forward Chase Phelps

Colgate head coach Don Vaughan

Live blog: No. 1 BU vs. No. 9 Colgate

Time/Location: 4 p.m./Agganis Arena

BU lines:
Ahti Oksanen – Jack Eichel – Danny O’Regan
Evan Rodrigues – Matt Lane – Cason Hohmann
Chase Phelps – Mike Moran – J.J. Piccinich
A.J. Greer – Nick Roberto – Tommy Kelley

Matt Grzelcyk – Brien Diffley
Brandon Fortunato – Brandon Hickey
Doyle Somerby – John MacLeod

Matt O’Connor
Connor LaCouvee
Anthony Moccia

Colgate lines:
Tyson Spink – Mike Panowyk – Kyle Baun
Joe Wilson – John Lidgett – Daniel Gentzler
Evan Peterson – Andrew Black – Tim Harrison
Derek Freeman – Sebastian Weberg – Emilio Audi

Spiro Goulakos – Jake Kulevich
Kevin Lough – Brett Corkey
Ryan Johnson – Brendan Corcoran

Charlie Finn
Zac Hamilton
Bruce Racine

Officials:
Jeff Bunyon
Bob Richie
Kevin Briganti
Tom Cronin

Live Blog BU vs. Colgate (11-29-14)
 

Happy Thanksgiving!

We’d like to wish all of you folks a very Happy Thanksgiving. The three of us are thankful for many things, including our readers who interact with us and read our content. Additionally, we are grateful for your patience throughout our transition this season to our new format — it’s taken some time to get used to it, but we’re pleased with how it’s turned out, and are happy to see people engaged and excited about the blog.

We are grateful for the opportunity to cover BU, an experience that gives us the skills we need to be successful professional journalists. Here’s to a day of rest and delicious food, a peaceful holiday season and a continued exciting season for the Terriers.

All best,
Sarah, Conor and Andrew

Pluses and Minuses: Eichel held pointless in OT loss to Harvard

This time, in overtime, the No. 1 Boston University men’s hockey team couldn’t get it done.

Against the University of Maine on Friday, freshman forward Jack Eichel scored an overtime goal to give the Terriers a 3-2 victory. But against No. 18 Harvard University on Tuesday, BU couldn’t do it again in overtime, dropping a 3-2 contest to the Crimson by allowing a goal to captain Kyle Criscuolo.

BU freshman defenseman Brandon Hickey had seven shots against Harvard on Tuesday. PHOTO BY MAYA DEVEREAUX/DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF
BU freshman defenseman Brandon Hickey had seven shots against Harvard on Tuesday. PHOTO BY MAYA DEVEREAUX/DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF

As per usual, there’s plenty to nitpick from this game. Here’s some of the good, bad and ugly that we noticed:

Minuses

Eichelmania deflated
Time to panic, everyone — for the first time this season, Eichel didn’t end up on the score sheet. Season’s over, guys. Pack it in. Eichel’s scoreless-ness on Tuesday snapped a 10-game streak of at least one point in each game. In that stretch, Eichel tallied a total of 19 points, including 12 assists.

Harvard’s crew said it knew coming in that Eichel would pose a threat, but the team’s head coach said he was pleased with how the Crimson matched up against him.

“I had a rosary bead in my coat pocket,” said Harvard head coach Ted Donato. “It certainly didn’t feel like he didn’t have points tonight. He’s dynamic. I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Jack since he was probably 12 years old. His skill level, his ability to control the tempo of the game — he’s a tough matchup, but I think our guys tried to be aggressive, tried to angle him when we could.”

Fatigue
The Terriers are in the midst of a five-game, 10-day stretch. Playing a Tuesday game after wins on Friday and Saturday is certainly a daunting task, and BU head coach David Quinn noted his team looked sluggish at times, and was unable to adapt as a result.

“They caught us a little bit tired there in overtime,” Quinn said. “I thought we had control and a chance to change. They were able to change. We couldn’t get the puck deep and get off. We’re still learning how to change, they get a breakaway early in overtime because we make a right change and our guy stumbles getting on the ice and they get a breakaway.”

Missed opportunities
BU outshot the Crimson in every period, including three shots on goal to Harvard’s two in overtime. The Terriers, in total, had a 42-24 shots-on-goal advantage.

Harvard’s defense kept BU’s offensive attempts in check, blocking 33 of the Terriers’ 87 total shots attempted. BU also sent 12 shots wide. Additionally, Crimson goaltender Steve Michalek recorded 40 saves in the matchup.

“I thought there were good chances, but a lot of loose pucks lying around at the net front,” Quinn said. “We just couldn’t get a stick on it. One of the things that we talked about, we were at the net front, but I didn’t think that we were physical enough around the net.

“A lot of times, you get at that net front and there’s a 50/50 puck and you start fishing for it instead of leaning into somebody and throw them off-balance — it gives you better chance to possess it. Obviously, you would like better chances than we did tonight, but I thought we had some good ones. That’s a good team.”

Pluses

Quality start, well-rounded effort
Quinn noted that the Terriers had their best start to a game in quite some time on Tuesday. BU has been noticeably sluggish out of the gates in many of its games this season — in its last game, against the University of Connecticut on Saturday, it took BU five minutes to record a shot on net.

Not on Tuesday. The Terriers jumped out to an early shot advantage, ending the first period with a 13-5 advantage. Quinn said he was pleased with his team’s effort not just in the first period, but also through the entire game, in which BU saw a number of shots.

“I thought that was the best game we played from start to finish in a while,” Quinn said. “I really did. Our guys were disappointed, but I really liked our effort, our focus, I thought we did a lot of good things. I thought our transition was good, I thought we defended well tonight.”

Hickey shines
Freshman defenseman Brandon Hickey has quietly become an effective player for the BU squad, and showed some of his skill against the Crimson on Tuesday. In the game, Hickey had seven shots on net and assisted on junior forward Ahti Oksanen’s game-tying goal at 6:43 in the second period.

“I thought he played very well tonight,” Quinn said about the Calgary Flames prospect. “I thought he defended well, he moves the puck quickly, he skates so well, and he’s got a cannon for a shot, he was active offensively. He’s really coming on, he’s a very good player now and he’s got a great future for us.”

Live blog: No. 1 BU vs. No. 18 Harvard

Time/location: 7 p.m./Agganis Arena
Game Preview

BU lines:
Ahti Oksanen-Jack Eichel-Danny O’Regan
Evan Rodrigues-Cason Hohmann-J.J. Piccinich
A.J. Greer-Matt Lane-Nick Roberto
Chase Phelps-Mike Moran-Tommy Kelley

Matt Grzelcyk-John MacLeod
Brandon Fortunato-Brandon Hickey
Doyle Somerby-Brien Diffley

Matt O’Connor
Connor LaCouvee
Anthony Moccia

Harvard lines:
Jimmy Vesey-Alexander Kerfoot-Kyle Criscuolo
Tommy O’Regan-Luke Esposito-Brian Hart
Seb Lloyd-Tyler Moy-Jake Horton
Devin Tringale-Eddie Ellis-Phil Zielonka

Patrick McNally-Desmond Bergin
Max Everson-Victor Newell
Wiley Sherman-Clay Anderson

Steve Michalek
Merrick Madsen

Officials:
Charles Hanafin
Marty Hughes
Brendan Kelleher
Marc Sullivan

Live Blog BU vs. Harvard (11-25-2014)