Pluses and Minuses: Second line, defensemen give BU life on offense

Brandon Hickey. PHOTO BY DANIEL GUAN/DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF
Brandon Hickey. PHOTO BY DANIEL GUAN/DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF

The No. 2/3 Boston University men’s hockey team just keeps on winning, and did so again in the form of a 6-3 victory over the University of New Hampshire on Friday night at Agganis Arena. The Terriers now own the longest winning streak in the nation at seven — its longest win streak since the end of the 2009 championship season.

There was plenty we liked and didn’t like from that game. Here’s a small sampling:

Pluses

Second line shines
The second line of junior forward Ahti Oksanen, sophomore forward Robbie Baillargeon and senior assistant captain Cason Hohmann has been clicking as of late, and accounted for seven total points on Friday against the Wildcats. Andrew has more on that in his sider.

Defensemen scoring
A pair of BU defensemen also found their way onto the score sheet against UNH: junior captain Matt Grzelcyk and freshman defenseman Brandon Hickey.

Neither is a stranger to offensive production: Grzelcyk has two goals and 17 assists on the year, adding to his goal total with his tie-breaking goal with 2:50 left in the second period. Hickey, with his powerful shot, was able to tally a goal and an assist, boosting his season total to five goals and nine assists.

BU head coach David Quinn had nothing but praise for Hickey’s production after the game.

“He works incredibly hard,” Quinn said. “Loves hockey, has got a passion for the game, he’s got enthusiasm that’s infectious. He’s got a bunch of physical skills: he skates well, he shoots it a ton. Does a great job getting a shot to the net, but it’s hard it’s low. He’s physical, he’s good defensively.

“He’s had a heck of a year, be hard-pressed to find many freshmen defensemen better.”

Fashion choices
The Boston Hockey Blog fully endorses Hickey’s postgame attire from Friday night, which included a white cap with a picture of Hohmann’s face taped to the front.

“We thought it would be pretty funny if someone walked in wearing the Hohmann hat,” Hickey said. “A double Hohmann interview.”

“I don’t know how that hat got made but it’s been around the locker room,” Hohmann said. “People have been wearing it around, so it’s pretty funny.”

Minuses

Defensive lapses
BU — a team that entered the game giving up an average of just 2.15 goals per game — allowed UNH to tie the game at three goals apiece, less than three minutes after the Terriers had taken a 3-1 lead.

“I just thought were, in particular in the first two periods, irresponsible with the puck and really weren’t committed to playing defense,” Quinn said. “It became a little bit of a track meet, exchanging chances, and that’s certainly not how we want to play. I thought we did a much better job in the third period of being responsible.”

How did they make that adjustment? Simplicity.

“You just try to simplify everything,” Hickey said. “Bear down the D zone, make sure you’re clearing guys out in front of the net. We’re just trying to get back to simple hockey. Just relax and go out and play our game because we know if we play our game and shut everyone down, we have our opportunities to capitalize as well.”

Streak comes to an end
It’s pretty hard to criticize a guy who just got 27 points in 11 games, but it was still a bit disappointing to see senior assistant captain Evan Rodrigues’ point streak end on Friday. He had four shots on goal against UNH, but none could cross the goal line. All good things must come to an end, I suppose.

Live blog: No. 2/3 BU vs. UNH

Time/Location: 7 p.m./Agganis Arena
Game Preview
TV: NESN

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

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

Matt O’Connor
Connor LaCouvee
Anthony Moccia

UNH lines:
Casey Thrush-Maxim Gaudreault-Matt Willows
Warren Foegele-Kyle Smith-Shane Eiserman
Dan Correale-Andrew Poturalski-Tyler Kelleher
Jason Salvaggio-Michael McNicholas-Jamie Hill

Matias Cleland-Brett Pesce
Harry Quast-Cameron Marks
Richard Boyd-John Furgele

Danny Tirone
Adam Clark
Jamie Regan

Officials:
Jack Millea
Tim Benedetto
Christopher Millea
Robby Shintani

Live Blog BU vs. UNH (2-13-15)
 

’97 F Kole Sherwood commits to Boston University

The Terriers added to their impressive list of recruits today, with ’97 F Kole Sherwood announcing his commitment to BU via his Twitter account.

The six-foot forward hails from New Albany, Ohio, and has been noted for his “opportunistic” play and possesses an impressive shot. 

Sherwood currently plays for the Ohio Blue Jackets of the Tier 1 Elite Hockey League, where he is currently leading the team in goals (22) for a 22-26-48 line in just 31 games.

The young forward hails from a hockey-centric family, as his older brother — Kiefer Sherwood — plays for the Youngstown Phantoms of the United States Hockey League and is committed to play for Miami University (Ohio) next season.

According to Over the Boards, Sherwood would likely slot into the Terrier roster for either the 2016-17 or 2017-18 season.

Beanpot championship game postponed to Feb. 23

Both the Beanpot championship and consolation games have been postponed to Feb. 23 due to another impending winter storm.

This comes one week after the Beanpot semifinal games were pushed back one day because of heavy snow. A Beanpot championship has not been played this late in the season since 1978 when a blizzard moved the final to March 1.

Following a 4:30 p.m. consolation game between No. 11 Boston College and No. 4/6 Harvard University, No. 2/3 Boston University will play Northeastern University for the title at 7:30 p.m.

A win in the championship would give BU its 30th Beanpot title.

 

Pre-Beanpot Championship live chat

With the Beanpot championship game just a day away, we here at The Boston Hockey Blog wanted to open up the floor to any questions or comments you might have before Monday night. Discuss your favorite team — or the opponent — with us and other fans as the big game approaches.

Live Blog Pre-Beanpot Championship Chat
 

Pluses and Minuses: Impressive start propels No. 2/3 Terriers past No. 11/12 River Hawks

Matt Lane. PHOTO BY MAYA DEVEREAUX/DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF
Matt Lane. PHOTO BY MAYA DEVEREAUX/DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF

LOWELL — Heading into BU’s showdown with UMass Lowell Friday night, Terrier head coach David Quinn stressed that his team was not looking past the River Hawks on the way to an appearance in the appearance in the Beanpot Tournament title game Monday.

“We look at it as if we have two Beanpot Finals coming up,” Quinn noted. “We have one Friday and one Monday. When you’re playing a team that’s right on your heels and is the two-time defending league champion and had all the success they’ve had, I don’t think there’s anybody that’s looking past anybody.”

It seems like the Terriers agreed with their coach’s words, with BU handily beating Lowell by a score of 5-2 to win its sixth contest in a row and earn the season sweep over the River Hawks.

While the Terriers now turn their focus back to TD Garden, here’s a quick look at what went right and wrong for BU on Friday at Tsongas Center.

Pluses

Off to a quick start

It’s been a recurring trend all season long, but the Terriers have had trouble in terms of generating leads over the first 20 minutes of play. In fact, heading into Friday night, BU was dead last in Hockey East with just 12 first-period goals.

In what served as a refreshing change of pace, the Terriers were able to seize the advantage early against UMass, lighting the lamp three times over the first nine minutes of play in what was the team’s first three-goal opening period this season.

Just 38 seconds were eclipsed on the game clock when junior forward Ahti Oksanen fired the puck past Lowell goalie Kevin Boyle to help BU jump out to the 1-0 lead.

Senior assistant captain Evan Rodrigues would take care of the rest, besting Boyle both at 3:01 and 8:16 in the first period to help build a comfortable cushion against a challenging conference foe

“To get off to the start that we had, considering the way our season’s gone in the first period, was certainly a surprise to me,” Quinn said. “We did think we were ready to play as a staff, but you never envision getting out to a lead that early and then building on it. I think it really changed the complexion of the game.”

Rodrigues keeps on going. And going. And going. And going….

Another win for BU and another impressive stat line for senior assistant captain Evan Rodrigues. Ho hum.

The reigning Hockey East Player of the Month feasted on the River Hawks defense, securing his first career hat trick en route to a four-point night. It may come as no surprise at this point, but Rodrigues has been scoring hot as of late, scoring 27 points over his last 11 games.

Lowell had few answers for BU’s first line of Rodrigues, freshman center Jack Eichel and junior winger Danny O’Regan, with the triumvirate totaling nine points on the night.

For more on Rodrigues’ hat-trick showing against Lowell, be sure to check out Sarah’s sider.

Lane comes up clutch … again

His numbers might not rival those of some of teammates, but junior forward Matt Lane certainly has shown a knack for stepping up in big situations.

The Rochester, New York, product made his presence felt at a critical point in Friday’s match. BU’s comfortable four-goal lead had quickly been carved down to two during the opening minutes of the third — with the River Hawks looking for more.

However, BU’s fourth power-play bid on the night swung the momentum back into the Terriers’ favor, with Lane serving as the benefactor.

A wrist shot from Eichel slammed off of Boyle and created a loose-puck chance in front of the UMass crease that Lane pounced on, forcing it past the goal line to put the nail in the coffin for the River Hawks.

Minuses

Poor penalties give Lowell life

Through the first 39 minutes of play, it appeared that the Terriers could do no wrong up in The Mill City, jumping out to a 4-0 lead and holding a potent River Hawks offense at bay as the second period drew to a close.

Unfortunately for the Terriers, struggles with staying out of the sin pin proved costly — as Eichel was whistled for tripping at 19:55 while freshman defenseman John MacLeod was later sent away for the same infraction just four seconds later, giving Lowell nearly two minutes of 5-on-3 hockey entering the third.

Lowell would make good on the extra-man advantage, with freshman C.J. Smith firing the puck past BU netminder Matt O’Connor at 1:22 in the final period to get the River Hawks on the board.

Smith’s wrister goal appeared to give the River Hawks the jolt that they needed. A little over four minutes later, another puck found BU netting, this time coming from sophomore Evan Campbell at 5:41 to cut BU’s lead down to two.

Lane’s power-play score less than three minutes later helped stem the tide, but Quinn acknowledged that crucial momentum swing that both penalties could have contributed to during the game.

“I thought we played a really good first 39:47 and then all of a sudden we take two ridiculous penalties at the end of the second period — just ridiculous penalties,” Quinn said. “Then they get the 5-on-3 goal, then they get another one and they got life. And then fortunately we were able to get a power-play goal.”

Penalty on Winter Storm “Linus”, two minutes for interference

As if the brutal snowfall hitting Massachusetts for the past few weeks hadn’t already made most of our commutes/lives miserable over the last few weeks, it even found a way to put a damper on the start of Friday’s game.

Originally scheduled for a 7:15 start time, Friday’s match was delayed until 7:40, as some of the officials were still stuck in traffic in the minutes leading up to the opening faceoff.

With more snow slated in the near future, this “minus” might be a recurring trend over the next week or so. I certainly hope not.

Live blog: No. 2/3 BU vs. No. 11/12 UMass Lowell

Time/Location: 7:15 p.m./Tsongas Center
Game Preview

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

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

Matt O’Connor
Connor LaCouvee
Anthony Moccia

UMass Lowell Lines:
A.J. White – Evan Campbell – Ryan McGrath
John Edwardh – Michael Fallon – Adam Chapie
C.J. Smith – Joe Gambardella – Gage Hough
Jake Kamrass – Michael Colantone – Michael Louria

Tyler Mueller – Michael Kapla
Dylan Zink – Zack Kamrass
Jake Suter – Chris Forney

Jeff Smith
Kevin Boyle
Olli Kalkaja

Officials:
John Gravallese
Jack Millea
Bob Bernard
Matt Riegert

Live Blog BU vs. UMass Lowell (02-06-2015)
 

Odds and Ends: BU reaches Beanpot championship for 1st time in 3 years

In one of the most, if not the most, exciting games of the year, the No. 2/3 Boston University men’s hockey team came away with a 4-3 win in double overtime over No. 4/6 Harvard University in the Beanpot Tournament semifinal. If your heart is still racing from that one, you’re probably not the only one.

With the victory, the Terriers reach the tournament final for the first time since 2012, when they fell to Boston College in a dramatic overtime game. A victory next Monday night would be BU’s 30th tournament championship win and the first of this decade.

Northeastern University won its semifinal tilt against No. 11/12 Boston College, so the matchup is set: the Huskies will play the Terriers for the trophy and Boston bragging rights. But before we get to that game, here are a few links from Tuesday’s dramatic finish:

— Sarah’s game recap

— Conor’s sidebar on junior forward Danny O’Regan and his game-winning goal

— What went right and wrong for the Terriers in Pluses and Minuses

Other Links 

— Conor’s pregame story on O’Regan and his hockey-centric family.

Game story for the BC-Northeastern semifinal game.

— Some quick facts on next week’s championship matchup.

— Jack Eichel, Danny O’Regan and Matt Grzelcyk were named semifinalists for the Walter Brown Award, given to the best American-born college hockey player competing in New England.

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