Treats and Tricks: No. 8 Terriers beat No. 5 Denver in OT

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Sophomore goaltender Connor LaCouvee. PHOTO BY JUSTIN HAWK/DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF

Coming into Saturday afternoon, the No. 8 Boston University men’s hockey team had a chance to make a statement.

The Terriers (3-3) had dropped their past two games, suffering back-to-back losses for the first time since Feb. 21 and 22, 2014. They were routed 5-2 by the University of Connecticut on Tuesday and stymied at No. 17 Merrimack College on Friday evening 4-3.

Saturday they were scheduled to face the No. 5 University of Denver and played well for the first two periods of the game, leading 4-2 as the puck was dropped for the third. In those 20 minutes, though, Denver (3-3) struck twice to tie things up. The teams went to overtime, and after sophomore defenseman Brandon Hickey blocked a shot on the Pioneers’ first rush, BU took it back up the ice the other way.

Senior forward Ahti Oksanen, freshman center Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson and senior assistant captain Danny O’Regan were streaking up the ice before Oksanen fired at goaltender Evan Cowley and ended things just 21 seconds into overtime.

Here’s a look at what we thought was good and bad in a pretty lame attempt at a Halloween edition of pluses and minuses.

Treats

Ahti Oksanen

It took 28 shots on net, but Oksanen finally scored his first goal of the season. He also tallied the game-winning score on his 29th shot of the year in overtime to defeat Denver. To read more about Oksanen’s night, check out Sarah’s sider.

Connor LaCouvee and the penalty kill

The Terriers did not have the third period they might have liked to (see below), but the way they played in the first two periods and the way sophomore goaltender Connor LaCouvee fared in net was a little more encouraging.

By game’s end, Denver took 38 shots on net and cashed in on four of them. When the Pioneers really kept on the Terriers and held them in their own end for much of the third period, LaCouvee stood tall.

“Obviously the story of the third period was our goalie,” Quinn said. “I thought he was outstanding.

“He certainly did a great job tonight,” he added. “That was a Division I goaltending performance and a really good night. … He’s a really good goalie, and so is [senior] Sean [Maguire]. I know we’re going to get great goaltending. Statistically it doesn’t look that way right now, but to be 3-3 with the save percentage we have, with two guys that I know are really good, that I know are going to be able to win big games like we did tonight, I have no doubt. It’s the least of our concerns.”

The netminder was also a large part of the penalty kill. BU took six penalties throughout the game and gave Denver five power play opportunities. The team held the Pioneers without a power play goal and are now perfect in their last 10 penalty kills. However, the last time I included a stat like that (last Saturday), the Terriers gave up four power play goals in seven chances in the next game (Tuesday), so who knows what next Friday will hold.

Still, Quinn said he liked the way the PK blocked shots and kept things on the perimeter.

But even so, the Pioneers managed nine shots with the man advantage in the third period alone that LaCouvee turned aside to help his team hang on.

Defense

The defense as a whole looked better as well. While the blue line unit played a more “helter-skelter” game in the early goings of the season, things are beginning to settle down some. BU allowed Denver 38 shots on net, which is not ideal, but it  blocked 26 shots, of which the d-men had 15. Hickey and freshman defenseman Charlie McAvoy led the way with four apiece.

Hickey himself said he thought through the first few games, the defense was trying “to do a little bit too much, trying to get a little bit too offensive and trying to run out of [their] position.”

Now they’re focusing on good, team defense, solid sticks, being tough to play against in the corners and winning one-on-one battles.

“Our D corps is starting to look like it did last year,” Quinn said. “I thought last night and tonight they were back to doing what they were doing last year, which allowed us to have a successful season. And we’re gonna need all of them, not only to match their games last year, but be better than they were last year, and I really, really liked what I saw the last two games out of our D corps.”

Third line

BU’s second goal of the night came off the stick of junior center Robbie Baillargeon, his first tally of the year, assisted by sophomore winger A.J. Greer, who got his first point of the season on the play.

Greer and Baillargeon, along with linemate freshman Bobo Carpenter combined for six shots.

Some of our readers expressed concern about a lack of production from Greer and Baillargeon, which we discussed in our podcast this week.

Tricks

Third period

According to Quinn, the final frame of the game served as “a microcosm” of where the team is mentally right now. He said he doesn’t know if BU is really ready to win and put teams away, but part of that had to do with the way Denver responded.

When teams are down in the third, they tend to find a surge, Quinn said, and the opposing team sits back on their heels. It happened to the Terriers on Friday when they put pressure on Merrimack in the third period in an attempt to knot things up. They got the third goal, but unlike the Pioneers, could not get the fourth to send things to overtime.

BU let Denver dictate much of the play in the final period and was outshot 16-5. The Terriers were out-attempted 36-10 as well and let DU come at them instead of taking the play to them. When it came time for OT, though, they were ready to make the shift.

“We just wanted to respond,” Hickey said. “We kind of wanted to have a little push-back because they kind of dominated the third period, we kind of sat back on our heels a little bit.”

“We knew both goals they scored [in the third] were just individual mistakes,” Oksanen said. “Their tying goal was completely my mistake, so we knew that we’re a better team and if we keep pushing hard, we’re going to win.”

The difference in the period, Quinn said, was that Denver’s power play was energetic and got chances while the Terriers, who had a pair of power plays in the third, gave up a shorthanded goal and were anemic with the man advantage and couldn’t get anything going.

“We got a little bit deflated,” he said. “That can do that, special teams can do that to you.”

Live Blog: No. 8 BU vs. No. 5 Denver

Weekend preview
Podcast

Friday recap
Friday sider
Friday pluses/minuses

BU lines:
Ahti Oksanen-Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson-Danny O’Regan
Ryan Cloonan-Matt Lane-Jordan Greenway
A.J. Greer-Robbie Baillargeon-Bobo Carpenter
Chase Phelps-Mike Moran-Nikolas Olsson

Brandon Hickey-Brandon Fortunato
Doyle Somerby-Charlie McAvoy
Brien Diffley-Shane Switzer

Connor LaCouvee
Sean Maguire
Max Prawdzik

Denver lines:
Trever Moore-Danton Heinen-Dylan Gambrell
Emil Romig-Quentin Shore-Colin Staub
Evan Janssen-Gabe Levin-Troy Terry
Grant Arnold-Matt Marcinew-Jarid Lukosevicius

Tariq Hammond-Nolan Zajac
Adam Plant-Will Butcher
Blake Hillman-Matt VanVoorhis

Tanner Jaillet
Evan Cowley

Officials:
Michael Baker
Cameron Voss
Jeremy Lovett
Andrew Weber

Live Blog BU vs. Denver (10-31-2015)
 

Pluses and Minuses: Late BU push not enough, Terriers lose back-to-back games

NORTH ANDOVER — Before this season began, David Quinn reiterated that this was a new year, and that his team would be looking to build off what it learned last year.

Brandon Hickey. PHOTO BY JUSTIN HAW/DFP FILE PHOTO
Brandon Hickey. PHOTO BY JUSTIN HAWK/DFP FILE PHOTO

While the No. 8 Boston University men’s hockey head coach put most of the 2014-15 season in the rearview mirror, there was one thing he took a lot of pride in — the Terriers never lost two games in a row all year.

Five games into this season and that streak is over.

The Terriers (2-3, 1-2 Hockey East) fell to No. 17 Merrimack College on Friday night at Lawler Arena, just four days after a loss at the University of Connecticut. It was the first time since Feb. 21-22, 2014 that the Terriers have dropped consecutive games.

It’s not an ideal start for BU, but Quinn isn’t exactly hitting the panic button five games into the season.

“We’re finding ways to lose right now,” Quinn said,” and the good news is it’s October and I really like the progress we made from Tuesday night to tonight.”

With the bad there was also good in this one, so we’ll take a look at what happened in this Pluses and Minuses.

Minuses 

Costly early goal

The teams had just hit the ice and were seemingly just feeling each other out. But Merrimack forward Brett Seney set the tone 48 seconds into the contest.

Coming in from the neutral zone, Seney skated down the left wing and put what appeared to be a harmless wrist shot on net. Senior goaltender Sean Maguire, though, wasn’t quick with his glove and the puck beat him high.

It jump-started the Warriors (3-0-2, 1-0-2 Hockey East), who went on to score a little over nine minutes later. From there, Merrimack never trailed.

I mean the first shot goes in,” Quinn said. “We got deflated, I thought we did a great job recovering from it, they get up 2-0 and then we just, I thought after that, I thought we took over.”

Maguire struggles 

In his first year since coming back from a head injury, Maguire has gone through the ups and downs of a player who hasn’t seen game action in over a year.

Friday night at Merrimack was a tough one for Maguire from the start, with the first shot of the game getting by him. He finished with 10 saves on 14 shots and was pulled about halfway through the game for sophomore netminder Connor LaCouvee.

It is early in the season, but BU’s goaltenders have numbers at the bottom of both Hockey East and the NCAA. You can read more about the goaltending issues in Judy’s sidebar.

Penalties 

Looking at the stat sheet, it’ll tell you that BU went a perfect 4-for-4 on the penalty kill. So, at first, it might appear as if penalties weren’t a factor in this one.

But in a span of 1:03 in the second period, one penalty ended up being a crucial part in deciding this outcome.

Sophomore defenseman John MacLeod was called for a slashing and went to the box, while Merrimack winger John Gustafsson was also penalized for embellishment. On the ensuing four-on-four, Merrimack struck twice, the second of which ended up being the winning goal.

The second tally during the 4-on-4, at 15:03 of the second period, had a lot to do with the extra space on the ice. Defenseman Ethan Spaxman took the puck from the point, skated into the middle of the slot with plenty of room and then beat Maguire with a powerful wrist shot.

“They get two 4-on-4 goals, which we should be pretty good at 4-on-4,” Quinn said, “but we just, we’re finding ways to lose right now.”

Pluses 

Offense from the defense 

A big reason why last year’s BU team was so successful was that its defense could not only play well in its own zone, but it could also move the puck well and chip into the offense when needed.

In spite of the loss, the offensive presence from the defense was on full display. MacLeod got the scoring started with a slap shot four and a half minutes into the second, and sophomore defenseman Brandon Hickey finished the night with goal a few minutes into the third period.

The Terrier defense racked up a combined 14 shots, more than a third of BU’s 37 shots on goal. The blue line corps finished with four points for the game, and it now has a combined six goals for the season.

“It’s good, and they played well too defensively.” Quinn said of his defensemen. “I thought Brien Diffley had a really good night, I thought Johnny MacLeod had a really good night, Hickey had a great night. Our D looked like our D corps from a year ago, which was really encouraging, really encouraging and, you know, still gotta clean some things up but who doesn’t at this time of the year?”

A walk down Matt Lane

Senior assistant captain Matt Lane started the year as BU’s third-line center, jumped to the first-line wing and has since moved to the second line, which was where he was Friday night.

Even with all of the shuffling and adjusting, Lane has played with a good level of consistency and has contributed in just about every game.

After a goal against Merrimack, a backhander as he skated to the net with speed, Lane now has three goals and four points through five games.

He’s been quick in the offensive zone and generating chances, adding three more shots to his season total after Friday night was all said and done.

Live blog: No. 8 BU at No. 17 Merrimack

Weekend Preview
Podcast

BU lines:
Ahti Oksanen-Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson-Danny O’Regan
Jordan Greenway-Matt Lane-Ryan Cloonan
Chase Phelps-Robbie Baillargeon-Bobo Carpenter
A.J. Greer-Mike Moran-Nikolas Olsson

Brandon Hickey-Brandon Fortunato
Doyle Somerby-Charlie McAvoy
Brien Diffley-John MacLeod

Sean Maguire
Connor LaCouvee
Max Prawdzik

Merrimack lines:
Justin Hussar-Brian Christie-Ben Bahe
Jace Hennig-Brett Seney-Mathieu Foget
John Gustafsson-Hampus Gustafsson-Chris LeBlanc
Craig Wyszomirski-Michael Babcock-Alfred Larsson

Marc Biega-Jonathan Lashyn
Jared Kolquist-Ethan Spaxman
Matt Cronin-Aaron Titcomb

Collin Delia
Drew Vogler
Joe Pantalone

Officials:
Kevin Shea
John Gravallese
Brendan Kelleher
Joe Ross

Live Blog BU at Merrimack (10-30-2015)
 

Listen to the Boston Hockey Pod!

Hello hello, everyone! I hope you are all doing well on this lovely Friday afternoon before a BU-hockey-filled weekend. We recorded a podcast last night that included our thoughts on some of the recent happenings with the team and answered a couple of questions that were submitted to us as well (which you can all do for our next one if you’d like).

So if you’ve got a spare 20 minutes and want to hear Sarah, Andrew and me talk hockey, just press the play button below, turn up your sound and enjoy! Feel free to comment with your reactions or with more questions and let us know what you think.

Thanks so much!

Pluses and Minuses: No. 8 BU thwarted by poor special teams, “immaturity” against UConn

HARTFORD, Connecticut — No. 8 Boston University fell to the University of Connecticut in a rough 5-2 loss at the XL Center on Tuesday evening.

Ahti Oksanen. PHOTO BY JUSTIN HAWK/DFP FILE PHOTO
Ahti Oksanen. PHOTO BY JUSTIN HAWK/DFP FILE PHOTO

“I certainly thought they were ready to go from the get go,” BU head coach David Quinn said in reference to UConn in his press conference following the game, before admitting that his team didn’t have the same sense of energy until the third period.

Usually for these posts, we introduce them by saying something to the extent of “here’s some of what we liked, and what we didn’t like.” This time around, though, there wasn’t really much of anything we liked. Nonetheless, we proceed:

Minuses

Urgency and maturity
Immaturity has been an issue this season, and Quinn said it plagued BU again on Tuesday. With two goals allowed and three penalties committed in the second period, the Terriers found themselves in a 3-1 hole and unable to escape.

Quinn also noted that BU’s inability to block shots on Tuesday contributed to its downfall.

“One of the things I thought we did a great job of on Saturday night was blocking shots,and tonight we let everything get through us,” Quinn said. “We didn’t win battles at the net front, and that was the story of the game. Right now we’re just playing an immature game.”

While BU became more aggressive in the third period, outshooting UConn 15-7 in the frame, it was too little, too late — by the time the score was 3-1, the momentum had already swung in the Huskies’ favor.

“You can’t wait till you’re down 3-1 and play with an urgency,” Quinn said.

“The key to the game is we couldn’t make it 3-2 and we had plenty of chances to early on in the third,” Quinn added. “But, like I said, we’re playing with more urgency and they’re playing a bit more conservative and they waited to get on the power play and they burned us.”

Bad…luck?
Both senior assistant captain Danny O’Regan and freshman forward Ryan Cloonan had shots ring off the post in Tuesday’s game. Senior forward Ahti Oksanen, who led the team in goals last season, has yet to buy a goal four games into the season.

In Saturday’s win over the Huskies, Oksanen’s shots found multiple posts. Despite four shots on goal on Tuesday, he still couldn’t make it happen in the second matchup against UConn.

“I hope it’s bad luck,” Quinn said. “It’d be more alarming if he [Oksanen] wasn’t getting chances. He had plenty of chances again tonight, and I know it’s weighing on him, but we’re four games into it. There’s a lot of hockey to be played.”

Penalty kill
The story of the night, as Quinn said following the game, was BU’s failure on the penalty kill. Jon Sigal, who’ll be covering the team next year, filled in for Andrew tonight, and has a whole bunch about the special teams in his sider.

PA guy
We at the Boston Hockey Blog try and be mostly neutral, but can’t help but be somewhat bitter when someone mixes up the name of our university. Thumbs down on our end to the PA guy for calling a BU penalty tonight a “penalty on Boston College.”

Pluses

Scoring chances
BU, at the very least, got 38 shots on goal in the matchup. UConn goalie Rob Nichols, however, saved 36 of those. Junior forward Robbie Baillargeon led the team with six shots on net — equal to his season total in shots. As mentioned earlier, Oksanen had four shots on goal, while his linemate O’Regan had five shots on goal. Even the fourth line, featuring sophomore Chase Phelps, senior Mike Moran and sophomore Nikolas Olsson, combined for eight shots on goal.

But much like Quinn said about Oksanen specifically, it’d be a larger concern for BU if it wasn’t getting opportunities at all.

Brass Bonanza
We here at the BHB are big fans of “Brass Bonanza,” which plays every time UConn scores a goal. So we got to hear that five times, at least.

Live blog: No. 8 BU vs. UConn

Series Preview
Saturday recap

BU lines:
Matt Lane-Danny O’Regan-Ahti Oksanen
Jordan Greenway-Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson-Ryan Cloonan
A.J. Greer-Robbie Baillargeon-Bobo Carpenter
Chase Phelps-Mike Moran-Nikolas Olsson

Brandon Hickey-Charlie McAvoy
Brandon Fortunato-John MacLeod
Doyle Somerby-Shane Switzer

Connor LaCouvee
Sean Maguire
Max Prawdzik

UConn lines:
Patrick Kirtland-Shawn Pauly-Evan Richardson
Spencer Naas-Max Letunov-Tage Thompson
Marco Richter-Kasperi Ojantakanen-Corey Ronan
Joey Ferriss-Max Kalter-Jesse Schwartz

Derek Pratt-Miles Gendron
Johnny Austin-Joseph Masonius
David Drake-Ryan Segalla

Rob Nichols
Steve Thulin
Tanner Creel

Officials:
Michael Baker
Kevin Keenan
Kevin Briganti
Nicholas Briganti

Live Blog BU vs. UConn (10-27-2015)