Pluses and Minuses: Terriers punch ticket to Frozen Four

Game Photos 


MANCHESTER, New Hampshire — The No. 2 Boston University men’s hockey team has had its fair share of success at TD Garden this season, posting a record of 4-0 while taking both the Beanpot championship and the Hockey East title.

Now, it’ll try to win a national title on Causeway Street.

The Terriers (27-7-5) defeated No. 7 University of Minnesota Duluth, 3-2, Saturday night in the NCAA Northeast Regional final at Verizon Wireless Arena, clinching the Icedogs’ 22nd Frozen Four appearance and their first visit since the 2009.

Facing off against a physical Bulldogs (21-16-3) squad, BU relied on two goals from senior assistant captain Evan Rodrigues to help secure its bid back to TD Garden.

As with every game, there was a fair share of good and bad takeaways from BU’s performance out on the ice. Here’s a look:


Terrier depth shines

Looking at the big picture, it appeared that Duluth accomplished its goal of shutting down freshman center Jack Eichel — holding the North Chelmsford native off the scoresheet for the first time since the Beanpot semifinal game against Harvard on Feb. 3.

While Rodrigues picked up the slack on the first line with two tallies in the contest, BU received a big boost throughout the game from its deep roster.

With the game tied at 1-1 in the second period, freshman forwards Chase Phelps and J.J. Piccinich — BU’s fourth-line wingers — created space around the Bulldogs’ net, generating an opportunity for junior forward Matt Lane.

Piccinich dished the puck to Lane, who promptly snuck the puck past Duluth goaltender Kasimir Kaskisuo at 3:32 to hand BU a 2-1 lead.

BU’s versatile group of players also came up big on the defensive end, especially after freshman defenseman John MacLeod went down with an injury just about halfway through the game.

BU coach David Quinn was forced to roll out five blueliners for the remainder of the tilt, but scarlet and white D-corps stood firm, keeping the Bulldogs off the board through the final 32 minutes of play.

Somerby leaves his mark

He might not have registered a point over the weekend, but sophomore defenseman Doyle Somerby was a huge presence (literally) for the Terriers out on the ice.

While the New York Islanders prospect used his 6-foot-5 frame to impact Saturday’s game — including a bone-crushing hit on UMD forward Tony Cameranesi at center ice in the second period — he also impressed with both his offensive and defensive awareness.

On multiple shifts, Somerby pinched up on the ice, using his size to win puck battles along the boards while keeping the pressure on the Bulldogs. Later, Quinn noted that Somerby was one of the few skaters unfazed when UMD pulled Kaskisuo in the closing minutes of the game.

“He was immense,” Quinn said. “Very active on the forecheck. Did a great job the last 20 seconds with the goalie pulled. You have a tendency when the other team has six and you have five to kind of sit back and watch. We did that when they almost scored. I thought after that, ‘OK, the guy’s got the puck let’s go defend him.’

“Everybody else has to protect, but don’t give him time. He did a great job jumping. The guy had the puck down by the left of our goalie with about eight or nine seconds to go and people were indecisive and Doyle took charge.”

Evan almighty

He might have been snubbed from the Hockey East First Team earlier this month, but Evan Rodrigues just keeps producing out on the ice.

The Most Outstanding Player of the NCAA Northeast Regional, Rodrigues once again came up big for the Terriers, scoring twice — including the game winning goal with just under 2:30 left in the match.

For more on Rodrigues’s performance, check out Andrew’s sider.


Terriers falter in middle frame

Coming out of first intermission, it appeared that the Terriers had the Bulldogs right where they wanted them — jumping out to a 1-0 lead after the first 20 minutes of play.

Ultimately, though, Lane’s second-period strike proved to be the one bright part of the stanza, as the Bulldogs out-muscled and out-hustled the Terriers throughout the period. UMD bested BU goaltender Matt O’Connor twice in the period, first off of a slapshot goal from defenseman Willie Raskob just 37 seconds into play to tie the game.

Just under four minutes after Lane’s goal, Duluth capitalized again, with forward Kyle Osterberg firing a wrister from outside the blue line that bounced off O’Connor’s glove and trickled into the Terrier cage, once again knotting the game at two goals a piece. Minnesota outshot the Terriers by a 13-6 margin in the period.

“I wasn’t surprised how that game unfolded,” Quinn said. “It was kind of like a heavyweight fight. We controlled the first few rounds. Almost had a couple of opportunities to deliver a knockout punch. Then they’d come back and dominate for about 10 or 12 minutes. Then we’d come back and dominate for about 10 or 12 minutes.”  

Hohmann takes a tumble

Lost in the scrum at BU’s net following the win was senior assistant captain Cason Hohmann, who wiped out while skating out to his teammates. Hohmann was a good sport about it, however, posting a replay of his slip on Twitter.

TRANSCRIPT: Minnesota Duluth reacts to 3-2 loss to BU

Head Coach Scott Sandelin

Opening Comments

“First of all, congrats to David [Quinn] and BU. It was a great hockey game, just unfortunate the way it ended. Hats off to them…a lot of back and forth, zone time for both teams in certain situations but they made a play at the end, right at the end of the power play, won a hockey game…they’re moving on and we’re not.”

Penalty call near end of game

I was surprised [at the call]. There are things you can’t control, all we can control is trying to kill it, we almost did and they ended up making a great play and scoring the winning goal. It’s frustrating sometimes but just trying to get our guys focused on the penalty and we almost did. Tried to keep it 2-2, keep the game going…try to win in regulation or try to win it in overtime.

Game control in third

“We talked about the same thing. They came out and had probably a little more jump. It’s tough to generate anything when they were winning races and getting pucks to the net, which they do very well. We had some long, extended shifts. They only had two shots one time they had the puck a lot and sometimes you have to weather those. They’re a good hockey team with some offensive players and we knew that they were going to put pucks at the net all night and they came pretty hard in third. At the end of the day, it was still 2-2 and they had some chances and we had a few, not as many as in the first couple of periods just unfortunate it has to end on that.”

Willie Raskob’s play

“He went through some ups and downs this year but the second half and certainly the latter part of the year, he really played well and I think you saw a real strong weekend from him, things that he can do. He’s still young—he’s a sophomore, but he was a true freshman, it was nice to see. Next year he’s going to be a key component back there [on defense] like he was this year, but a year older.”

Kasimir Kaskisuo’s play

“I think he’s played great all year, he’s had a tremendous year for a freshman and he’s been a backbone for us. He made timely saves, key saves at a lot of moments in the year….you need great goaltending to win games and they got to steal games for you. Today was no different, he was just solid, it was nice to see him grow as the year went on. For me, it was just another game that he played well in.”

Eichel and Minnesota Duluth Defense “You can sit and focus on him…you have to pay attention on any team to the best players. He’s certainly a great hockey player that’s a threat any time he’s out there and our guys did a good job. Like every team there’s other players, that’s no different throughout the year, his linemates are good. I thought their fourth line had some good shifts, some good energy shifts with some good looks. It happens sometimes when they don’t get points but they’re still a factor in the game and he certainly is one of those players. Most of the times it might not seem like those guys are getting points but they are doing other things but they find a way to make that play….he’s a pretty special player.

Younger Players Experience (this weekend)

“When you start the year you have goals for your team—regular season, regular season championship, tournament championship and then the ultimate is to be one of the teams playing at this time of the year. We fell one step short of step three, which is getting to the Frozen Four. You can talk about all the experiences but they have to go to live this, for our seniors, this is the second time for them unfortunately it had to end this way just like it did when they were freshman but hopefully our young guys can get some experience knowing how hard it takes to is to get to this point, how hard it is to continue past this point…in one game shots they’re difficult.

You can’t control bounces, you can’t control those types of things but I think any of these experiences are good for all your players especially your young guys. Hopefully they come back extremely motivated and try to get here again and to try to go further, the ultimate goal is to win a national championship, we had a chance but we just fell a little short so they should take some good experience from it.”

Sophomore forwards Kyle Osterberg and Alex Iafallo

On how this experience will help next year

Osterberg: “It’s our first time coming to the tourney so it was a pretty special experience. Being still young, I think we can take out the experience and do it next year.”

On the senior leadership

Iafallo: “Our seniors had great leadership throughout the whole year. I’m proud of them and I want to thank them for the whole season. They showed us all the ways to score and to play hockey, so it was fun being with them.”

On the team’s offensive effort

Iafallo: “I thought we had a couple chances and we could have buried those. We could have had a couple bounces but that’s how hockey is. BU had a good game so you have to respect them. It’s a tough one to swallow, but that’s how it goes, I guess.”

On BU taking control late in the game

Iafallo: “I guess they just through everything at us but we held our ground. I thought it was going our way but they just kept throwing pucks on the net.”

On being a victim of tough breaks

Osterberg: “It’s things that we can’t control. We did what we had to throughout the game by playing the way that we should have. Give credit to BU for taking advantage of that opportunity.”

On if the close loss stings more than a blowout

Iafallo: Of course it stings. It’s not how you want to end a season. I didn’t expect that to happen.”

On if the team got the effort they wanted

Osterberg: “Yes, definitely. I thought everybody played their hearts out. The seniors got us ready for each and every game and I think it was shown on the ice that those guys were the ones that really carried the team throughout the weekend.”

TRANSCRIPT: Evan Rodrigues and Matt Grzelcyk following BU’s 3-2 win over Minnesota Duluth

Rodrigues on his first goal

“At the end of practice we play games where we bat pucks up in the air and just start wacking them. So I kind of knew I had a beat on it and I’d make contact.”

Grzelcyk on Evan’s game-winning goal

“It was unbelievable. It’s something that he’s done quite a lot over his four years here. To have that patience down that stretch-we’ve really relied on him, Jack, Danny and guys who can perform in the clutch. As soon as I passed it to him, I wanted him to shoot because he seemed to be wide open, but he made a great play and just a great shot after that.”

Grzelcyk on a senior scoring the game-winning goal

“I honestly can’t think of anyone who is more deserving. Him and Cason just meant a lot to this program and we’ve been through a lot of adversities these past couple years. I’m sure it’s a great feeling for him to see the puck go in the back of the net.”

Grzelcyk on Rodrigues being the hottest scorer in the nation since January

“Getting the opportunity to play with Jack and Danny is second to none. When we came back from Christmas, we wanted to make sure that we amped up our play, but he’s been electric all year. Seems like every time he gets the puck it seems like he’s making a play. Everybody knows that he has the skills, but not everybody knows he is one of the hardest workers on the team and he really sets the tone for the rest of the guys in the locker room.”

Rodrigues on Brandon Fortunato’s play tonight and his assist

“He’s been strong for us all year. We have four Freshman defensemen and it seems like every game they show up and they’re very consistent for being Freshmen. He’s been good all year. He seems to always make the right play and he’s extremely smart. He never gets caught in bad situations and he never makes the wrong play which is kind of surprising for a Freshman. It was a great play. The puck came across and he pinched up on the D, there was a battle for the puck and he just wacked it. It went flying up in the air and I took a nice swing at it.”

Rodrigues on his four years at BU

“Me and Cason have been through quite a bit of diversity starting our Freshman year. Then we came back, we had a good Sophomore year. We were one goal away from making it to the tournament. We were one of the hottest teams in the country going into that game and that was kind of heartbreaking. Then, obviously, last year was the exact opposite of what BU hockey is. it just seemed like nothing went our way. One goal games. Bounces. So this is just an incredible feeling. Even our juniors have been through it all. They came in the full front of the task force and they’ve done an unbelievable job of playing through adversity and leading this team. Especially ‘Grz’, you couldn’t ask for a better captain. To get back to the garden and into the Frozen Four for our Senior year, you couldn’t cap it off any better way.”

Grzelcyk on getting to the Frozen Four in Boston

“It’s obviously pretty cool. I think I’d be just as excited if the Frozen Four were anywhere else. Obviously, we’ve had a pretty good amount of success at the Garden so it’ll be nice to get back on familiar ice. I’m sure the guys will be excited to be back in the environment.”

Rodrigues on being a clutch leader

“I think my sophomore year I had a good stretch and a good season. After what we went through last year, coming into this year I knew I didn’t want my senior year of my career at BU to not be what I expected to be. I’ve been putting as much work as I possibly can to make this a special season. I think I’ve just gained more and more confidence throughout this year and I’m getting to play with two great linemates. I’m trying to keep my work ethic consistent to help me with the results and our team.”

TRANSCRIPT: BU coach David Quinn after 3-2 win over Minnesota Duluth

Opening statements

“Well, I’m running out of things to say. I can’t tell you how proud and happy I am for every guy on our team. It’s just been an incredible season so far. We know that there’s still a big challenge ahead of us. But we’re certainly going to enjoy this over the next few days. I don’t know if I’ve ever been around a bunch of guys that work as well together as our guys do, that care about each other as much as our guys do. The work ethic is second to none. The commitment to each other is unmatched. It’s just been an incredible six, seven months. We certainly understand that our work isn’t done yet, but we’ll think about that after these next few days because these guys deserve to enjoy what they’ve just experience. Especially the guys who return from last year after what we went through.”

A huge reason is the two guys to my right (Matt Grzelcyk and Evan Rodriques). Not only are they star plays, they’re star people. Our room is littered with star people and it’s really been a special, special group.

I wasn’t surprised how that game unfolded. It was kind of like a heavyweight fight. We controlled the first few rounds. Almost had a couple of opportunities to deliver a knockout punch. Then they’d come back and dominate for about 10 or 12 minutes. Then we’d come back and dominate for about 10 or 12 minutes.

After two periods you’ve got a 2-2 tie and then I thought that we did what we do best. I thought we played a great third period. We were relentless. We were smart. And we just did the things we needed to do to win an incredibly important hockey game and extend our season”

On the thin margin between winning and losing

“At this time of the season, every opponent is going to give you a lot of difficulty. They wouldn’t be playing if they weren’t. In the all-important third period I thought we took control of the game. Whoever we play a week from Thursday, they’re going to pose a problem for us or they wouldn’t be in the Frozen Four. There’s a lot of good hockey teams out there. There’s a small margin of error in every college hockey game and that margin gets smaller and smaller the later you player.”

On winning 39 of 61 faceoffs

“If you look back, we have actually come a long way on faceoffs because the first few months we were so horrific. . . . We’ve been a much better faceoff team. It’s tough to shake a reputation because we were a bad faceoff team early and people just keep saying that. I guess I’m surprised at how well we did tonight, but it’s been a much better part of our game over the last two or three months.”

On defenseman Doyle Somerby

“He was immense. He had a great first half. Thought he was kind of OK for a period of time and he’s really elevated his game. He’s been a lot more decisive. He’s making good decisions. Very active on the forecheck. Did a great job the last 20 seconds with the goalie pulled. You have a tendency when the other team has six and you have five to kind of sit back and watch. We did that when they almost scored. I thought after that, OK, the guy’s got the puck let’s go defend him. Everybody else has to protect, but don’t give him time. He did a great job jumping. The guy had the puck down by the left of our goalie with about eight or nine seconds to go and people were indecisive and Doyle took charge.”

Live blog: No. 2 BU vs. No. 7 Minnesota Duluth (NCAA Northeast Regional final)

Time/Location: 5:30 p.m./Verizon Wireless Arena
Semifinal recap
Semifinal photos

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

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

Matt O’Connor
Connor LaCouvee
Anthony Moccia

UMD lines:
Alex Iafallo-Dominic Toninato-Adam Krause
Austin Farley-Tony Cameranesi-Karson Kuhlman
Kyle Osterberg-Jared Thomas-Justin Crandall
Charlie Sampair-Cal Decowski-Austyn Young

Derik Johnson-Andy Welinski
Carson Soucy-Willie Raskob
Willie Corrin-Brenden Kotyk

Kasimir Kaskisuo
Matt McNeely
Alex Fons

Live Blog No. 2 BU vs. No. 7 Minnesota Duluth (NCAA Regional Final)

Pluses and Minuses: BU scrapes out win against Yale to advance in NCAA Tournament

Game Photos

MANCHESTER, New Hampshire — The No. 2 Boston University men’s hockey team knew it would have its hands full against No. 17 Yale University entering the first game of the NCAA Tournament, and the Terriers didn’t get anything different from the Bulldogs on Friday afternoon at Verizon Wireless Arena.


Yale sported the best defense in the country entering the game, and showed that for much of the game, shutting BU out for two periods. BU managed to earn the 3-2 win in overtime with some heroics from junior forward Danny O’Regan, but not without some pains along the way.

Here’s what we liked and didn’t like:


Veteran presence

BU’s freshmen appeared somewhat nervous, but its veterans picked up a lot of the slack in the end. All three of BU’s goals came from upperclassmen, and BU’s leaders in shots on goal were two juniors: captain Matt Grzelcyk (8) and O’Regan (6).

“One of the reasons we’ve been able to overcome our slow starts, why we’ve had great third periods, why we’ve had the season we’ve had, is because of our leadership,” said BU coach David Quinn. “And I’m not just talking about our seniors, I mean, our juniors, our sophomores have assumed a leadership and its kind of got contagious throughout the roster.”

On the topic of those sophomores, we at the blog were particularly impressed with the play of sophomore defenseman Doyle Somerby. He played with an offensive aggressiveness we haven’t seen all year — recording three shots on goal — and made a great play to keep the puck alive on BU’s overtime goal.

“Without question those guys are pivotal to our success,” Quinn added. “They really set the tone for our season.”

Comeback kids… again.

I swear I talk about this every time I write a pluses and minuses, but BU somehow does it every time. Conor talks more about BU’s two crucial third-period goals — and their overtime miracle — in his sidebar.


Turnovers aplenty

As expected, Yale’s defense swarmed the Terriers early, and BU’s young defensive corps committed lots of crucial turnovers throughout the game, leading to plenty of prime scoring opportunities throughout the game.

One BU turnover also led to a second, game-tying goal for Yale after BU had taken a 2-1 lead midway through the third period.

“I think it’s what we try to do on a game-to-game basis,” said Yale head coach Keith Allain. “We consider ourselves a strong forechecking team, we like to apply pressure on the puck all over the ice, and do that effectively. Not just with one guy but with all five guys kind of acting in concern with creating turnovers.”

Bad, bad penalties

One of the lowest moments in the game was most certainly junior forward Ahti Oksanen’s elbowing penalty at the 13:01 mark of the second period. Yale had been keeping BU close all game, and there was very little margin for error.

Oksanen’s penalty led to a Yale 1-0 lead 19 seconds into the Bulldogs’ power play, which could have been the dagger were it not for the goals in third period and overtime.

BU only had eight penalty minutes in the game, compared to Yale’s 10. But when you’re playing the best defense in the country, every little mistake counts, and a 1-0 deficit can be hard to overcome. The Terriers managed to do it on Friday, but they might not be so lucky later down the line if they’re in a tight game again.

As expected, some of BU’s woes came from its freshman-heavy roster playing on the big stage. Certainly playing a game broadcasted on ESPN isn’t a small thing. Quinn mentioned, as we said earlier, that BU’s leaders managed to keep the younger players in check somewhat.

“Playing on this big, big stage, it takes guys maybe a few extra minutes to kind of get into the game and relax themselves,” said senior assistant captain Evan Rodrigues. “But, I think we’ve done a good job of being able to kind of relax as the game goes on.”

TRANSCRIPT: BU players after OT win over Yale in NCAA Regional

What is the players’ perspective on falling behind and coming back?
Evan Rodrigues: “I think we were a little tense until they scored. And I think once we got down, there was kind of like there was nothing to hold back for. You kind of hold your stick a little looser. We knew that we had to score to move on and to win the game. When they scored, we just kind of just back to our game and started doing the things that we do on a consistent basis.”

What played into that back-and-forth first period?
Danny O’Regan: “I think we definitely came out a little nervous. Not a lot of guys on our team have been to the tournament before and I think we kind of showed that we were definitely a little tense. Giving up a lot of breaks, odd-man rushes. Really uncharacteristic of us, but once we settled down we showed we were much better.”

Did worry about missing the net on the game-winning goal?
O’Regan: “The way the game was going I thought I could’ve put it over the net, maybe. I definitely had a bunch of chances early and the goalie kind of had my number, I think I caught a post. That net was pretty gaping and I got a lucky bounce for once so it was a nice open net for me.”

What does it say for team to overcome nerves again?
Rodrigues: “I think we’re just young. We’re one of the youngest teams in college hockey and playing on this big, big stage it takes guys maybe a few extra minutes to kind of get into the game and kind of relax themselves. But, I think we’ve done a good job of being able to kind of relax as the game goes on. Like I said earlier, just play our game. Obviously it’s something we don’t like to do, we like to start off from the get-go. It showed we’ve had these kind of comebacks all throughout the year and I think we’ve done a good job of coming back.”

Why are you so good in the third period?
O’Regan: “Just shows our resilience and when we do the right things, work hard and make simple plays. Just, we happen to do it in the third more often, but it ended up working out for us. And this late in the season, Hockey East playoffs, now this tournament, we’re down late in the game, and I know it was in my head, I’m sure it was in a bunch of guys’ heads, but we don’t want this to be our last game that we play together, especially for our seniors. We just didn’t want it to end, so we really turned up the motivation.”

Do all the rebound goals stem from puck luck or good instincts to go to the net?
O’Regan: “I think it’s a little bit of both. I play with two really skilled players who know how to create chances. They usually get a lot of pucks to the net, so it’s not a bad place to go. I usually get a few bounces every game and sometimes capitalize on them. Yeah, that one I guess was just a combination of, coach was harping on it, just get to the net and good things will happen. I was able to catch a lucky bounce.”

How did you feel about Matt O’Connor’s play tonight?
O’Regan: “Yeah, he’s been unbelievable all year, and just like I said, he’s been just keeping us in games, especially of late. Just, they have an odd-man rush, it’s almost like we don’t even get worried, really. When they get a 2-on-1, he comes up with a glove save out of nowhere. He’s just been so solid back there. We all trust him so much, we almost take advantage of it sometimes and step in a hole too much, I don’t know what it is. He’s been unbelievable, just a brick wall for us.

TRANSCRIPT: BU coach David Quinn following 3-2 OT win over Yale

Opening Statement:

“What a hockey game. I’d like to congratulate Yale on a great season. It’s no mystery why they’re in this tournament. They play as hard as anyone we play against, they’ve got a great goalie. It really was everything that we thought it would be. We knew it would probably come down to a one-goal game — possibility of overtime.

I think this game, in a lot of ways, was a microcosm of our season. I thought we looked a little nervous early, give a lot of credit to Yale for the way we played early, I thought they were at their “A” game, they were just a half-a-step quicker, winning a lot of battles and then it was funny, once they went up 1-0, I thought we just started playing better. It was almost like the pressure was off. We’re a lot more comfortable being down then we are ahead for some reason and I just thought after that, we started playing,

I thought for the most part, early in the game, I thought our defense were backing off quite a bit, they weren’t involved in the offense. We were turning pucks over — again, give Yale a lot of credit, they’ve got great sticks, they’re quick on loose pucks — but I really liked after we went down 1-0, I thought we started playing. It was almost like, it was a little bit of a relief, the pressure is off for some strange reason, don’t ask me why, and after that, I thought we played the way we needed to play.

In the second period, we didn’t have a shot in between the hash marks, and you’re not beating anybody, let alone Yale, if you’re gonna play that way. I thought in the last three or four minutes, we did a good job in the second period, then in the third period, I thought we did all the things we needed to do. I thought we did the things we did against Merrimack and Lowell and we got rewarded for it.

To get the goal in the fashion that we did — our D got involved offensively, Somerby makes a great play on the overtime goal, pinches in, keeps the puck alive — Jack backs him up, Evan and Danny get to the net front, Jack gets a puck to the net and Danny gets a rebound overtime goal and we’ve seen that movie before.

Just an unbelievable game. Again, a microcosm of our season in many ways. We’re just fortunate and excited about playing again tomorrow night.”

On a night where one of your freshmen might have had a little nerves, how important was it to have guys like Rodrigues, O’Regan and Grzelcyk have such good nights and be such integral parts of the win?

“Well, that’s always important. That’s what kind of gets lost in the success we’ve had this season. As Evan alluded to, we are the youngest team in college hockey. Again, because of our record, I think people at times can loose sight of that, but one of the reasons we’ve been able to overcome our slow starts, why we’ve had great third periods, why we’ve had the season we’ve had, is because of our leadership. And I’m not just talking about four seniors, I mean, our juniors, our sophomores have assumed a leadership and its kind of got contagious throughout the roster. It’s just, we never think we’re out of it. … It was eerie the way the feeling kinda changed on the bench when we went down 1-0. Everybody seemed to be a little bit looser and we started to do the things we needed to do if we’re gonna generate offense and have some of the success we’ve had through the season. Without question those guys are pivotal to our success. They really set the tone for our season, They embraced a big freshman class and I’ve said this before — we are a true team — and that certainly plays a large part to how our retuning players accepted the freshmen.”

What does it say about your team that you didn’t let Yale’s comeback offerings deflate them?

 “You know, at this time of year, you’re not gonna spend 60 minutes in the offensive zone. You’re playing good hockey teams and you’re gonna have to weather a storm, you’re gonna have to fight through a difficult shift. I thought we did a good job of that. Obviously our power play goes 0-for-7, that hasn’t happened very often this year. Give them a lot of credit, I thought they did a great job killing penalties, their goalie obviously was a big part of that, they do a great job with their sticks. They make your earn every inch of ice, but again, no matter what the hump is, we’ve seemed to overcome it so far this year. We’re prob going to have a few bumps in the road in tomorrow’s game no matter who our opponent is. That’s the way it’s gonna be from here on in and in college hockey, that’s usually the way it is night in and night out.”

See any similarities to 2009 team?

“Well, we’re similar in that we’re playing to get to the Frozen Four, but I think our teams are different. That team had a big senior class. We weren’t relying on 8-10 freshmen a night. We knew the year before, we almost made the national tournament, we knew we had a good team. There was a lot of uncertainty going to this season. I think people are probably surprised, maybe not now, but as the season was unfolding, I think people might be surprised at the situation we’re in, because we’re picked to finish sixth in Hockey East and rightfully so after the year we had last year. A lot of people probably didn’t think we’d have a lot of success this season. Obviously, Jack brought a lot of attention and fanfare to us, but we had a lot of good returning players too. But to me, the biggest difference between this team and that team is that team had a lot more experience than this team. It was a little bit more of a veteran-laden team, where as this team, we rely on a lot of freshmen.”

What went through your mind when you saw that you had to play Yale?

“I said to this to the team — I’m sure it happens in all the other sports — you get your draw in the NCAA tournament and you think, ‘Oh god, why are we here? Why are we playing that team? We got screwed.’ Everybody says that. You’ve just gotta play. You’re in the national tournament, you’re playing good hockey teams. You can’t sit there and try to figure our why you’re playing who you’re playing and where you’re playing. You just gotta show up and play the hockey game.

I could hear some of the mumblings after the selection show, our guys are no different that everybody else. 18 year olds always think that someone is trying to screw them. Our guys are no different.”

What was Yale doing to stop you from getting zone time early on?

“Well, they were playing quicker than we were, they were more physical than we were and they were winning more battles. I know that may be simplistic, but that’s the truth. We looked nervous, it’s like Evan and Danny talked about, we are the youngest team in college hockey. I know we’ve been in some pressure situations throughout the last month, but never in a situation where if you lose, your season is over.

We played the Beanpot championship and that’s an exciting, pressure-filled game, but you know you’re gonna play another game. We played the Hockey East semifinals and finals, those are pressure situations, but you know you’re gonna play another game. This is a whole new ballgame. I think it really showed early and again, it says a n awful lot about a team when you can play as poorly as we did and again, I don’t want to discredit Yale. One of the reason we weren’t playing well is because they were playing well, but to be able to turn it on like we did says an awful lot about our mental toughness.”

TRANSCRIPT: Yale comments after OT loss to BU in NCAA regional

Opening statement from head coach Keith Allain
Allain: I thought it was a hard-fought game, and I think BU’s a very good team. Well-coached. I wish them luck going forward in the tournament.

After second period, with 1-0 lead, was that the style you wanted to play against BU? What changed?
Senior Trent Ruffolo: I guess the first part of that, our goal was to get the get the first goal of the game, it was definitely our mission. I don’t think anything changed on our end, but I think they may have picked it up a bit, I thought it was a pretty even-matched game, especially toward the end here.

After you kill off penalty in overtime, did you think you had a chance?
Ruffolo: Yeah, we looked to take any momentum off of that kill. Our goal was, going into overtime, to take it out of their control first, and we’ll get it back to our game.

What will you remember about seniors?
Ruffolo: I don’t know if I can explain that. My classmates are some of my best friends at school. It’s definitely hard to go out like this but I think that’s what makes it special, we are such a close class.

Pace of first period — did early effort come back to bite you?
Ruffolo: I disagree with that. I don’t think that we held back at all. I think that’s exactly the style of play that Yale hockey should be associated with. I don’t think that bit us in the butt at all. That’s just how we play.

How much of a battling team did you have this year?
Ruffolo: Yeah, I guess that’s pretty much our character all year long. We fought … I feel like that’s part of our identity as a team, we fight till the very end. And it works out that it had to end the way it ended.

BU getting upper hand in second half of game? What changed?
Allain: I think they had three strong plays. The shot total got run up with the power plays.

After two periods, with lead, did you have them exactly where you wanted?
Allain: Well, exactly where I wanted to be was up 4-0 after two (laughter). But it was the kind of game we thought it would be. We felt it would be to our advantage if they were chasing us rather than us chasing them, but that’s not exactly what it would be.

Impressions of Eichel?
Allain: We went up against a great BU team, first of all. But I think Jack’s a terrific player, he’s probably the best player in college hockey this year, and he’s only a freshman. And I think he’s got a really, really bright future ahead of him.

Consistency of team?
Allain: I think this team has overachieved, and I agree that they have been consistent in in-game performances. And it’s really because of their consistency in their approach. I can’t think of two practices in the past six months where I wasn’t happy with the effort they gave, the energy they brought or the mental preparation they brought to practice. And I think we need to practice like that on a daily basis, and things go back to being consistent on the weekends and that’s what this group was.

How proud are you of the achievement after uncertainty of making tournament in first place?
Allain: I’ve had pride in this group all year long, that Harvard series was a heck of a series and we ended up losing that in overtime, but I was extremely proud of my team after that series. I guess I’m not thinking about pride right now because this is what I expect from this group. This is what they are, this is what they do. So they’re just being themselves.

Scoring opportunities off turnovers?
Allain: I think it’s what we try to do on a game-to-game basis. We consider ourselves a strong forechecking team, we like to apply pressure on the puck all over the ice, and do that effectively. Not just with one guy but with all five guys kind of acting in concern with creating turnovers.

How surprised about penalty with 10 seconds remaining?
Allain: I don’t have any problems with the officiating out there tonight, if that’s your question.

Live blog: No. 2 BU vs. No. 17 Yale (NCAA Northeast Regional)

Time/Location: 2:00 p.m./Verizon Wireless Arena

Game Preview


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

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

Matt O’Connor
Connor LaCouvee
Anthony Moccia

Yale Lines
Trent Ruffolo – Stu Wilson – John Hayden
Anthony Day – Charles Orzetti – John Baiocco
Frankie DiChiara – Carson Cooper – Cody Learned
Ryan Hitchcock – Chris Izmirlian – Mike Doherty

Tommy Fallen – Adam Larkin
Ryan Obuchowski – Nate Repensky
Mitch Witek – Rob O’Gara

Alex Lyon
Patrick Spano
Connor Wilson

Live Blog BU vs. Yale (NCAA Northeast Regional, 3-27-2015)