Pluses and Minuses: BU ends Beanpot losing streak, advances to tournament final

It might’ve felt like an eternity. In fact, it was 1,093 days.

Nikolas Olsson.  PHOTO BY EVAN JONES/DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF
Nikolas Olsson.
PHOTO BY EVAN JONES/DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF

But at long last, the losing streak is over.

The No. 2/3 Boston University men’s hockey team overcame a two-goal deficit and record-breaking goaltending performance to dispatch No. 4/6 Harvard University, 4-3, in double overtime in the Beanpot semifinal at TD Garden.

Sixty-seven shots later, the Terriers (17-4-4, 11-2-2 Hockey East) won it on a goal from junior forward Danny O’Regan 2:18 into the second overtime period. Down by two in the middle of the second, freshman forward Nikolas Olsson and junior winger Ahti Oksanen tied the game up, which set up a dramatic third and overtime periods.

BU dominated for large portions of the game, but it wasn’t perfect. As always, things went right and wrong for the Terriers. Here’s the Beanpot semifinal edition of Pluses and Minuses.

Pluses

The final play

It seemed at just about every turn, Harvard (12-6-2) netminder Stephen Michalek bailed out his defense. With 63 saves, a new Beanpot record, he at times looked impenetrable. One Crimson turnover changed everything.

As Harvard attempted to clear its own defensive zone, senior assistant captain Evan Rodrigues got in the way of the exit pass. O’Regan saw this, and immediately charged toward the crease. Rodrigues made a crisp centering pass to the Needham native, who finished off the play with a wrister into an almost-open net.

Michalek had no chance to make that 64th save.

“I’ve been lucky enough to play with Evan [Rodrigues] for awhile now,” O’Regan said. “He’s a great player, so I just kind of put my head down and went to the net and knew he would find me — he did just that.”

Cason Hohmann’s resurgence

BU’s other senior assistant captain went all the way from Nov. 22 to Jan 23 without scoring a goal. At certain points over the last month-and-half, BU coach David Quinn even moved the center to the third line at points.

Over the last few games, including Tuesday night’s, Hohmann looks to be back in form. He opened up the scoring at the 16:50 mark of the first, as he found himself perfectly positioned in the crease to finish off a good passing play from Rodrigues.

Arguably even bigger was assist he made to Oksanen that tied the game in the waning seconds of the second period.

Second-period comeback

Believe it or not, but the Terriers were actually getting outshot and outplayed by the Crimson at the end of the first and beginning of the second. Harvard capitalized on sloppy in-zone defense and went up 3-1 in the first 10 minutes of the second frame, but more on that in the minus section.

After awhile, though, BU found its groove and fought back.

What initially looked to be a failed BU opportunity actually led to the first goal of the comeback. Olsson sprang Nick Roberto on a long lead pass through the neutral zone, all but giving Roberto a 1-on-1 showdown with Michalek. But on the ensuing breakway, Roberto shot well high of goal.

Undeterred, the third line kept the puck in the zone and created another opportunity. This time, the unit cashed in.

Roberto worked his way open in the slot and fired off a shot that created a big rebound. Olsson, as he’s done so many times this season, crashed the front of the net and picked up the loose change for his fifth goal.

Four minutes later, Oksanen connected on his 17th of the year off a nice feed from Hohmann. And like that, the tide of the game turned.

“I thought there was a point early in the second where it looked like a pond hockey game — we were giving up way too many odd-man rushes,” Quinn said. “And then I thought there was a point where we kind of settled down and started playing more responsible.”

Scoring chances … many scoring chances 

After a little bit of a lull at the end of the first period and start of the second period, the Terriers kicked it into high gear and amped up the pressure on Michalek. In the third period and first overtime, the Terriers generated 72 total shots, 32 of which hit net.

By the time O’Regan scored, the Terriers had attempted 123 shots — more than double Harvard’s shot attempts. It took some stellar goaltending, a few key blocks and some puck luck for Harvard to force the game as far as it did.

Minuses 

Bad defensive lapse and a sloppy start of the second

The Terriers already let the Crimson back into the game after they let Harvard rush the net at the end of the second period. Another misplay in the defensive zone at the start of the second period was, as Quinn put it, “deflating.”

The aforementioned second goal came off a bad exchange behind junior netminder Matt O’Connor. Freshman defenseman John MacLeod fed junior captain Matt Grzelcyk behind the net, who in turn gave the puck right to Harvard. The turnover all but set up forward Alexander Kerfoot’s goal 22 seconds into the frame.

It didn’t end up costing the Terriers in the long run, but it, and some other bad defensive plays later, put the team in bad position to start the second frame.

Record-breaking goaltender

Not exactly a clear-cut minus for BU, but Michalek’s performance for Harvard is worth at least a mention. Admittedly battling cramps, the backstop made a combined 32 saves in the third period and first overtime. A few times he was bailed out on some blocks, though for the most part, Michalek was impressive during his career-best day.

18 thoughts on “Pluses and Minuses: BU ends Beanpot losing streak, advances to tournament final

  1. SWEET BABY JESUS! After the patriots heart thumping game i didn’t think i was going to make it through this one! ! WOW HARVARDS goalie was a beast tonight!!
    Great job boys!! Im not critiquing anything about this game. This team fought their little hearts out for this W. NO team is perfect but i think some people on here will just never be happy without complaining. SO….. ..I’m just so happy BU is playing in the Beanpot championship again. Thank you Coach Quinn and Co and all the hard working dedicated young men on this exceptional BU hockey team!!
    Your future is looking so bright!

  2. Aaahhh – All is right in the world of cawlidge hawkey. BU won and BC lost. Can’t ask for a better scenario than that! 🙂 I will sleep like a baby tonight.

  3. Absolutely Allison !!! We win and BC loses don’t get much better..see u at the finals!!! Wooooooo… Go terriers..

  4. Hard work and dedication pays rich rewards. Every shift, every player, showing maximum effort for however long it would take. You did us proud men. Thanks!!
    PSD

  5. I’m just saying in general it seems after every game, win or lose there’s always some critique. I would think the fans would be turning cartwheels after last years debacle of a season. What more could one expect in a years time? Quinn was hired in March 2013? So last year was basically a wash because he took over a team he didn’t recruit. Not saying those kids weren’t talented BUT a coach has a certain style/caliber of player that he deems coachable and when you don’t get that choice, you do the best you can. But my God, he was crucified on this board. I am hoping it was mostly trolls since these threads basically have no one commenting anymore. Guess Coach Quinn and Co shut them up pretty quick huh? But there are a few people on here who seem very hard to please. However, on the other hand everyone is entitled to their opinion and MY opinion is we as true BU fans should be jumping for joy with the way this season is going! And I truly believe this is just the beginning. I just hope we aren’t too spoiled too quickly…but hey, I’m enjoying every minute of this season! I love it!! GO BU!!! I’m going to the Beanpot with high hopes of celebrating the 1st Beanpot Championship since 2009!! And we all know how THAT season ended right?? 😛

  6. I was really pulling for a BU – NU final (’cause we all know how much I love BC). I just hope the old adage “be careful what you wish for” doesn’t bite me in the butt next Monday night. I really do think I have a problem. As much as I was excited by our OT win last night (I saw it at a watch party in Manhattan), I was even more excited to go online and find out that BC lost (it was an unbelievable rush). That’s not a healthy mentality. I need to work on that.

  7. Agreed Allison. As a season ticket holder for 4 of the last 5 years and a BU (Hockey East) follower since the league came into being in 1984, I am delighted the way this team has played. I think this team will win the Beanpot on Monday night and hopefully go far in the NCAA tournament.

  8. Allison,
    What is the deal with AJ Greer? Why is he out of the lineup? If he broke team rules, then it must have been kind of serious to miss both the UMass game and the opener of the Beanpot. Or is he injured? Or have other guys beaten him out of a spot in the lineup?

    I would appreciate any light you could shed on this matter

    Peter

  9. From what I understand, Quinn is a no nonsense guy. You play because you deserve to play. Period. He doesn’t care who you are or where you’re from, if you’re not producing (or not adhering to the behavior of what he deems a BU Hockey player encompasses) you don’t play. There are quite a few guys on the roster that don’t see regular ice time in addition to Greer and Piccinich even…Duane, Ryan, Moran, Lawrence, Kelley) I guess they aren’t showing Quinn and Co anything in practices because I haven’t heard anything about grades or injuries. Anyone?

  10. I pretty much agree. The roster is thankfully deep. I think Greer is not making the cut (and I have no reason to think it’s anything but his hockey) now and is considered a healthy scratch. I do think Greer and the other guys mentioned have a decent chance of earning more ice time. I just pray that it happens because they earn it and not because of an injury.

  11. Best game BU has played this year. Let’s enjoy it. NU will be a difficult and worthy opponent and they are hot. Next Monday BU will have to put out an effort similar to Tuesday night’s effort. Let’s hope BU can sustain the focus and desire they showed against Harvard especially after having to play Friday against a talented and hungry UMass Lowell team.

    Go BU. Bring home number 30.

  12. Agreed that competition for ice time is a good thing. Depth and talent is a nice “problem” to have.

    Right now it appears there are 3 Freshman forwards (Phelps, Piccinich, Greer) fighting for 2 spots in the lineup. Piccinich has played in the last 2 games, but I expect to see Greer return to the lineup before the regular season is over. I think they all have the ability to contribute as role players the rest of the season when earning their ice time.

    One thing to bear in mind is that Greer is the 3rd youngest player in D1 (only Noah Hanafin and Zach Werenski are younger), having just turned 18 in December.

    • just so y’all are aware — we asked Coach Quinn today about A.J. Greer, and he’s been out the past two games with an illness. He’s expected to be back in the lineup Friday.

  13. Thanks Sarah. I should not have speculated anything. Then I again, I suppose if we didn’t speculate, this would be a boring site LOL. Glad to hear AJ is on the mend.

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