Best BU hockey moments of 2014

In case you haven’t had enough end-of-year “Best Of” lists for the season, we’ve got one more for you. We’ve discussed some of our favorite BU hockey memories from the calendar year, and have compiled them into a list for you all.

Feel free to discuss your favorite memories that we might have missed in the comments. From us at the Boston Hockey Blog, we wish all of our readers a safe evening and a peaceful and happy 2015.

Jan. 25: Anthony Moccia makes first career regular-season appearance
Then-senior Anthony Moccia earned regular-season playing time for the first time in his career in a 6-2 loss to the No. 17 University of Vermont. He made one save in the appearance.

Feb. 28: Jack Parker Night
The Terriers celebrated their beloved former coach, and later broke a nine-game winless streak with a 4-1 victory over then-No. 9 Northeastern University.

March 1: First road win
After failing to win a game away from Agganis in 13 prior opportunities, BU took home a 4-2 victory against Northeastern at Matthews Arena on the regular-season finale.

Oct. 10: Season-opening throttling of UMass
BU opened the 2014-15 season with a convincing 8-1 victory over UMass.

Oct. 24: First career shutout for Matt O’Connor
In BU’s home opener, junior goaltender Matt O’Connor earned a shutout for the first time in his career against Michigan State University. He had 29 saves in the 1-0 victory.

Oct. 25: Third-period rally, Matt Lane’s late heroics
The Terriers trailed by a score of 2-1, but came back to earn a 3-2 victory against then-No. 14 University of Michigan. Junior forward Matt Lane had the decisive goal with 3:10 left in regulation.

Nov. 7: Rivalry victory
BU beat then-No. 3 Boston College by a score of 5-3 at Conte Forum after erasing three deficits. Senior assistant captain Evan Rodrigues had two goals, including the eventual game-winner.

Nov. 21: Eichel in OT
After falling two goals behind the University of Maine, BU’s third-period surge sent the game to overtime. Freshman forward Jack Eichel scored a nifty goal 2:20 into overtime to give BU the 3-2 win.

Dec. 6: O’Regan hat trick
Junior forward Danny O’Regan notched his first career hat trick in a 4-1 win against then-No. 18 Merrimack. Eichel also assisted on all four goals in the game.

Dec. 19: Return to Walter Brown
In a “throwback” game against the U.S. World Juniors team, the Terriers played in Walter Brown Arena for the first time in 10 years. BU played without World Juniors captain Jack Eichel, who scored against his own team.

On Evan Rodrigues and his family

I published a feature on senior assistant captain Evan Rodrigues and his family yesterday. Evan’s older brother, Paul, plays for the Greenville Road Warriors of the ECHL — he’s teammates with former Terriers Sean Escobedo and Vinny Saponari, interestingly.

Just a little bit of BU hockey to tide you over until the Union game. Hope you’re all having a peaceful holiday season. We’ll be back at Agganis on Saturday for live coverage as BU gets back into action.

Live blog: No. 1 BU vs. U.S. National Junior Team

Time/Location: 7:30 p.m./Walter Brown Arena

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

Matt Grzelcyk – John MacLeod
Brandon Hickey – Brandon Fortunato
Doyle Somerby – T.J. Ryan

Matt O’Connor
Connor LaCouvee
Anthony Moccia

Extra Defenseman: Brien Diffley

Team USA Lines:
Tyler Motte – Jack Eichel – Alex Tuch
Nick Schmaltz – JT Compher – Jeremy Bracco
Sonny Milano – Chase De Leo – Anthony Louis
Adam Erne – Cole Cassels – Michael McCarron

Michael Downing – Ryan Collins
Will Butcher – Anthony DeAngelo
Noah Hanifin – Brandon Carlo

Brandon Halverson
Alex Nedeljkovic

Extra Forward: Miles Wood
Extra Defenseman: Jack Dougherty

Referees
Tom Cronin
Chris Millea
Brendan Blanchard
Brendan Kelleher

Live Blog No. 1 BU vs. U.S. National Junior Team
 

VIDEO: Day 2 of U.S. World Junior Camp at Walter Brown Arena

Here are a few video clips following the second day of the U.S. World Junior Camp at Walter Brown Arena. Boston University is set to face off against the U.S. National Junior Team Friday night at Walter Brown Arena.

U.S. National Junior Team coach Mark Osiecki (Part 1)

(My phone’s camera shorted out halfway through this interview, so it’s presented in two separate parts. Sorry for the inconvenience.)

U.S. National Junior Team coach Mark Osiecki (Part 2)

Boston College defenseman Noah Hanifin

University of Michigan forward Dylan Larkin

Boston College forward Alex Tuch

Terriers ranked No. 1 in latest USCHO.com poll

The Boston University men’s hockey team is back atop the national polls.

After a 5-1 win over Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, the Terriers (11-3-2, 7-1-2 Hockey East) claimed the No. 1 ranking in this week’s USCHO.com poll. This is the second time this season that BU has a hold on the top spot in the nation. The University of North Dakota, last week’s top team, fell to No. 2 after splitting a weekend series with the University of Denver.

The 2014-15 Terriers became just the sixth team in the history of the program to finish the first half of the regular season with at least 11 wins. The last time this feat was accomplished — the 2008-09 season — BU won a national title.

Pluses and Minuses: No. 2 Terriers crush RPI on road

Freshman J.J. Piccinich scored his first collegiate goal in BU's 5-1 win over RPI.  PHOTO BY MAYA DEVEREAUX/DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF
Freshman J.J. Piccinich scored his first collegiate goal in BU’s 5-1 win over RPI.
PHOTO BY MAYA DEVEREAUX/DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF

TROY, New York — As with most games this year, it wasn’t the prettiest of starts, but the No. 2 Boston University men’s hockey team figured it out by the end, putting together a comfortable 5-1 win over Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute at Houston Field House.

The Terriers (11-3-2, 7-1-2 Hockey East) escaped one of their sloppiest first periods of the year to date without allowing a goal thanks to junior goaltender Matt O’Connor. A solid second period with goals from junior forward Danny O’Regan and freshmen defensemen John MacLeod and Brandon Hickey put BU ahead to stay. Freshman forward J.J. Piccinich and sophomore winger Nick Roberto put the game on ice with goals late in the third.

Here’s a closer look at went both right and wrong for the Terriers on Saturday night:

Pluses 

O’Connor stands on his head

If not for the play of O’Connor in the first period, the Engineers might have multiple goals and a lead in the frame. But the Toronto native made save after save on 18 chances in the first 20 minutes. Most notably, with about five minutes left in the first, O’Connor sprawled out with his right pad, just barely getting a piece of the puck with his foot to keep the biscuit out of the net.

He continued this play throughout the game, making many tough saves with big bodies screening him near the crease. Not only did he make the stops, but he also kept rebounds to a minimum, something that at times has hampered him during his two-plus years at BU.

Only forward Milos Bubela’s goal with 2:55 left the game could spoil the goaltender’s night, which would’ve been his second-career NCAA shutout.

“Well, obviously we survived another bad first period. I thought our goalie was outstanding,” said BU head coach David Quinn. “I thought their goalie made some great saves, too, but I thought our guy made a lot more.”

Save that puck

Throughout the first half of the 2014-15 season, Piccinich has worked hard on the forecheck as part of the second line. Despite his hard-nosed play, he had been kept goalless in 13 games. But his consistent effort finally paid dividends at RPI.

With BU already leading by three, Piccinich corralled the puck in the middle of the zone, turned around and fired a wrister that beat goaltender Scott Diebold glove side for the freshman’s first goal with the Terriers.

According to Quinn, this score could be the first of many for Piccinich.

“He’s been playing very well,” Quinn said. “It’s good to see a guy like that get rewarded. We’ve kind of always felt once he gets one, maybe it’ll start coming in bunches. Hopefully that’ll happen once the second half starts.”

The drought is over

It had been over three games since BU last converted on a power-play chance. Bad zone entries, missed passes and losing puck battles marred the Terriers’ man-advantage unit over a 0-for-13 span. Late in the second period, though, BU finally scored with an opponent in the penalty box.

After a failed attempt in the first period, the Terriers made the most of their second opportunity of the game. The unit cycled the puck well through the zone and cashed in when O’Regan tipped in a shot coming from the left circle from freshman center Jack Eichel. O’Regan found himself at the right place at the right time, but more importantly, so did his stick.

“It took us a couple tries to get settled in I think, but once we got it in the zone, and we got them running around a lot off of great puck movement up top, those other four guy son with me, and Jack just feathered a pass to me for an empty net,” O’Regan said. “I think just the puck movement was the key to that.”

Second period turnaround 

Solid third periods have won BU many games this year, but back-to-back three-goal second periods have carried the Terriers the last two games.

Better passes led to more and efficient offensive zone time, and BU made the most of this. For more on this part of the game, check out Sarah’s sidebar.

Minuses 

Same old start

It’s been well documented that the Terriers don’t play their best hockey in the first period. Saturday night was no different by any means. O’Connor’s play might’ve been the only thing that went well for the Terriers in this 20-minute span. The Engineers continually camped in front of the net and had some quality chances by the end of the frame.

RPI did actually have a 1-0 lead for a brief moment before the referees waived off forward Jimmy Devito’s would-be goal because O’Connor was bumped into by an Engineers skater.

Poor play continues to be a part of this team’s starts, and it could end up biting the Terriers back one of these games.

Live blog: No. 2 BU vs. RPI

Time/Location: 7 p.m./Houston Field House
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 – J.D. Carrabino

Matt Grzelcyk – T.J. Ryan
Brandon Hickey – Brien Diffley
Brandon Fortunato – John MacLeod

Matt O’Connor
Connor LaCouvee

RPI lines:
Viktor Liljegren – Milos Bubela – Mark McGowan
Jake Wood – Matt Neal – Riley Bourbonnais
Jacob Laliberte – Mark Miller – Lou Nanne
Luke Curadi – Jimmy DeVito – Kenny Gillespie

Curtis Leonard – Chris Bradley
Jared Wilson – Parker Reno
Michael Prapavessis – Bradley Bell

Scott Diebold
Jason Kasdorf
Sam Goodman

Live Blog BU vs. RPI (12-13-2014)