After two unsuccessful attempts against Dartmouth College and Merrimack College over the last week, the No. 2/3 Boston University men’s hockey team finally matched its win total from the 2013-14 campaign, besting the Warriors 4-2 Saturday night at Agganis Arena.
The Terriers (10-3-2, 7-1-2 Hockey East) scored four goals over the first two periods to pad a comfortable cushion against the Warriors (10-5-2, 4-4-1 Hockey East), with junior forward Danny O’Regan notching his first collegiate hat trick in the process.
Here’s a look at what went right and wrong for the Terriers Saturday night:
Hats off to O’Regan
Less than a week after seeing his 10-game point streak come to an end against Dartmouth (5-4-1), O’Regan acclimated himself back on the BU box score Saturday, lighting the lamp three times en route to his first-career hat trick and four-point game.
The San Jose Sharks draft pick was a constant presence on offense anytime he was out on the ice, leading the team with 10 shots while compiling a plus-4 rating.
O’Regan’s most notable play might have been his first tally, as the junior skated his way into the slot, picked up a centering feed from freshman center Jack Eichel and deked past Merrimack goaltender Collin Delia before depositing the puck by way of a backhand shot into the Warriors’ net.
Standing at 21 points (11 goals, 10 assists) on the year, O’Regan is tied for first in Hockey East in goals and is just one point off his total scoring output from last season.
“Yeah, it was awesome,” O’Regan said about his three-goal night. “Really exciting. I was lucky enough to be in the right spot at the right time, and had the benefit of some really good plays by my teammates.”
Eichel shares the wealth
Reports of Eichel’s demise are greatly exaggerated.
After being held pointless in three of BU’s last four games, the freshman center tallied four assists against the Warriors — his second four-point showing this season (Oct. 10 at UMass-Amherst).
Eichel, who was named Hockey East Player of the Month on Wednesday, paces all Hockey East skaters in points (25), assists (17) and plus-minus (plus-20).
“You just kind of have to get to the right spot and I know he’s going to get around a couple people and find me,” O’Regan said of his linemate. “I just have be patient and go to the right areas. He’s got the ability that nobody else really has to just skate around people. I just keep it simple, try to get him the puck with speed, and he’s always looking to give it back.”
Hickey cashes in
Entering Saturday’s game tied for the team lead in points amongst defenseman (seven) freshman defenseman Brandon Hickey’s strong first-half play was finally rewarded when the Leduc, Alberta native notched his first collegiate goal at 2:46 in the second period.
After entering into Warrior’s zone, Eichel sent off a centering pass to a trailing Hickey, who promptly roofed the puck over Merrimack goaltender Collin Delia’s right shoulder to give BU a commanding 3-0 lead.
For more on Hickey’s performance and the strong play from BU’s first-year blueliners this season, check out Sarah’s sider.
Somerby’s costly penalty
While the Terriers entered the second intermission with a comfortable three-goal advantage, a costly play from sophomore defenseman Doyle Somerby could have changed the entire complexion of the third period.
The Marblehead native was flagged for both a game misconduct and a five-minute major penalty after crushing freshman Brett Seney into the boards behind the BU net at 6:34 in the final stanza.
While the Terriers penalty-kill unit negated the Warriors’ extended power-play, Merrimack would eventually cut the deficit to two after forward Brian Christie scored his second goal of the game at 14:45.
Third Period … Woes?
In what has been a major departure from a prevalent narrative this season, the Terriers’ dragged themselves to the finish line over the final 20 minutes of play.
For the first time all season, BU was outscored in the third period, with Christie’s score standing as the only mark for either team in the final stanza. While BU outshot the Warriors by a 34-20 margin over the first 40 minutes of play, both squads settled for 12 shots apiece in the third, thanks in large part to four BU penalties.
“Obviously, the third period disappointing with the four penalties and the five-minute major, that kind of made it interesting,” said BU coach David Quinn. “But, a great weekend for us.”
NORTH ANDOVER — For the second time this season, the No. 2/3 Boston University men’s hockey team skated to tie, this time with Merrimack College, 1-1, Friday night at Lawler Arena.
A sluggish beginning and a sloppy second period slowed the Terriers (9-3-2, 6-1-2 Hockey East) until junior forward Matt Lane lit the lamp early in the third. They forced overtime, but the Terriers could not get the game-winning tally despite a power-play opportunity in the final minute of sudden death.
As always, things went both right and wrong for the Terriers. Below is a detailed look at Friday night’s contest at Merrimack (10-4-2, 4-3-1 Hockey East):
Life in the fast Lane
Lane finds himself toward the middle of BU’s statistics page, although his play this season has been better than a middle-of-the-pack point-getter.
His net-front presence has been crucial for the Terriers this season, especially in third periods. Two of his three goals before Friday night’s game came in situations to either tie or win a game. And at 1:37 in the third stanza tonight, Lane added to this total.
Standing at the right place at the right time, the Rochester, New York native tapped in loose puck past goaltender Collin Delia to knot up the score.
“He’s had a great year. He’s played very well,” said BU coach David Quinn. “He’s skating, he’s being more physical, he’s going to the net more. Maybe that was his third or fourth, and I think if you combine the length that all his goals have traveled it would equal two feet, so that says something for going to the net.”
If you looked toward the penalty box Friday night, chances are you saw a BU player sitting in it. The Terriers had a combined penalty-minute time that totaled more than a third of regulation.
That tally was skewed by a 10-minute misconduct from freshman defenseman John MacLeod, but the number of penalties the Terriers took was staggering. But as bad as the infractions were, the penalty kill was just as good.
The four-man unit stuck bodies in front that stood in shooting lanes. When it came down to it, junior goaltender Matt O’Connor made the saves, and his defensemen chipped pucks out of the zone at opportune moments.
Hickey continues to move it along
Along with freshman forward Jack Eichel, his classmate in defenseman Brandon Hickey has time and again proven the strength of BU’s rookie class. The blueliner’s play on the penalty kill can’t be understated, but it’s been his ability to move the puck that has stood out the most.
Hickey found open forwards in tight windows and pinched down low for chances when he had the opportunity. When he threw the puck toward the net a little over 1:30 in the third period, he set up Lane for the tying goal. The helper was Hickey’s seventh of the year, good for fourth in assists on the team.
Everybody clap your hands
The Merrimack sound crew provided quite the array of songs for this game, and for that, they make the cut with a plus. It was a good selection of hits spanning multiple generations. The players even got into the fun, as Hickey was spotted clapping along to the “Cha-Cha Slide” from the bench.
The only minus? They played Sail by AWOLNATION twice.
Man down … over and over again
The Terriers played with four skaters. A lot. BU was called for six penalties in the second period, including successive penalties to freshman forward Chase Phelps. The referees called the game tight to the vest, and the Terriers ended up on the wrong side of most calls.
Lawler Arena is a smaller venue, both in capacity and in ice size. For a team like the Terriers that rely on speed to create open looks at the net, the rink proved to be an issue.
Eichel, who’s consistently stickhandled his way into open areas, could not really use his usual tricks on this night. BU’s vaunted first line really had nothing going for most of the contest aside from a few chances.
The Terriers had trouble getting pucks toward the net as whole, putting 22 on goal for the game, a season-low.
“There’s not a lot of room out there and we that’s why you need to move the puck quicker, to not allow them to smother you, which they’re very good at, and I mean that in a complimentary way,” Quinn said. “We don’t shoot the puck enough either. I mean we had some chances to shoot the puck and 22 shots is just not acceptable.
“I mean we’re definitely a little bit snake-bitten, but we’re not shooting enough. You become snake bitten when you get 22 pucks on net. You’d be a lot less snake bitten if you got 35.”
Second period misses
In what proved to be a poor period, the Terriers did have two golden opportunities to score twice. But they shot themselves in the foot both times.
Senior assistant captain Cason Hohmann got a partial breakaway and walked right in on doorstep. Instead of deking to get Delia out of position, Hohmann shot it right at his glove.
Hohmann’s fellow senior assistant captain, Evan Rodrigues, charged up the ice on a 2-on-1 with junior forward Ahti Oksanen. Instead of taking an open shot, Rodrigues attempted a saucer pass to the junior. Merrimack’s defense poked away the pass, and BU was left shaking its head again.
“We had a 2-on-1, clear as day we should shoot the puck, and we don’t,” Quinn said. “We’ve gotta bear down more, we gotta get more pucks to the net, and we’re getting too cute, we’re getting too cute, and we drive people wide, throw pucks to the net.”
Talked to junior forward Matt Lane, who scored BU’s only goal against Merrimack on Friday, on his way to the buses. Here’s all of what he had to say:
On his goal:
“It was just a power-play goal. We were trying to get pucks to the net, and luckily I got to the net and jammed home the rebound.”
Big-time goals this season:
“Just getting to the net. I guess if you look at all my goals, they’re all in tight. The bounces have gone my way at an opportune time. But basically just getting to the net, being a net-front presence and that’s how I’ve been creating my scoring opportunities.”
How to clean up penalties?
“We’ve definitely got to move our feet. It’s a small ice surface out there, a pretty chippy game. We’ve just got to move our feet more, keep our sticks down, not take stick penalties and stay out of the box more.”
Smaller ice detrimental?
“I don’t think it plays in our hands, but I also don’t think it’s an excuse. But you’ve got to give them credit. They play a jam-packed style, they lock it down and I’d say a 1-1 game is their ideal goal.”
Young team, how can you be a leader?
“Just that. Just be a leader. Be vocal, help these guys when they need it. It’s a long season, and as we move into the second half here, they’re not really freshmen anymore. And if we’re going to have a good team, we’re going to need all of them, especially since there’s so many, and they’re all in the lineup. I’d say as an upperclassman, just being a vocal presence and being there for whatever those guys need.”
Personal improvements needed?
“Just working every day in practice. Working on my shot, working on moving my feet, playing on my advantages. I think I’ll be alright.”
How to win tomorrow?
“We’ve got to stick to the game plan. We’ve got to get to the net, we’ve got to win our one-on-one battles, and we’re back on our home ice. If we do that, we should be okay.”
The accolades continue to pile up for forward Jack Eichel in his first campaign with the Terriers.
The North Chelmsford native was named Hockey East Player of the Month Wednesday morning after registering 13 points (four goals, nine assists) in nine games in November.
Eichel scored in seven of BU’s nine games last month — five of which were multi-point performances. The U.S. National Under-18 Team product paced all Hockey East skaters in points, assists and plus-minus (plus-7) in November.
The announcement serves as the second straight monthly award that Eichel has received this season, as the center was named Hockey East Rookie of the Month on Nov. 4 after notching eight points in four October contests.
Eichel, who currently leads all Division I players in both points (21) and plus-minus (plus-16), is the first BU player to be named Hockey East Player of the Month since defenseman Colby Cohen took home the honor on Feb. 2, 2010.