Pluses and Minuses: Terriers open Hockey East play with ‘hard-fought’ win over UConn

For its Hockey East season opener, the No. 8 Boston University men’s hockey team earned a “hard-fought” win, according to BU head coach David Quinn, to begin conference play with a 1-0 record.

The Terriers (2-1, 1-0 Hockey East) didn’t necessarily start the game at UConn’s pace (2-2, 0-1 Hockey East), but as time wore on, they adjusted their game to dominate the third period and emerge on top.

Freshman Ryan Cloonan. PHOTO BY JUSTIN HAWK/DFP STAFF
Freshman Ryan Cloonan. PHOTO BY JUSTIN HAWK/DFP STAFF

Here’s what we thought looked good and bad in the victory.

Pluses

Ryan Cloonan

Tied for the team lead in points with four is freshman winger Ryan Cloonan. In his first game of the season at Union College, Cloonan was in the lineup as the fourth line right wing. He scored the second BU goal of the game, assisted by senior center Mike Moran and junior defenseman Doyle Somerby, and gave the Terriers a temporary 2-1 lead.

The next week for BU’s game vs. the University of Wisconsin, he was slotted in as the second line left wing to freshman center Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson and tallied a pair of assists.

Against UConn, he notched another marker to extend his point streak.

Quinn said Cloonan’s experience is a valuable asset he brings to the team that the other freshmen might not have. While BU’s rookie class is largely comprised of guys 17 or 18 years old, Cloonan is 20.

And he’s improving with each week as well.

“He’s gotten better in the three weeks he’s been here,” Quinn said. “He’s a lot more conscientious away from the puck, there’s more purpose to his game without the puck, but you see his puck skills, he can really skate. He’s got deception to his game, he can shoot it, so there’s a lot to like in his game.”

As the third period began, Cloonan switched places with freshman forward Jordan Greenway and took the left wing’s place on the first line. Quinn said he thought Cloonan’s quickness would give senior assistant captain Danny O’Regan and senior forward Ahti Oksanen more speed to work with on the top line.

O’Regan said lines were a little bit all over the place as the game went on, but that Cloonan is a “great player and a really offensive guy.”

“He’s a really creative player,” O’Regan said. “So I was definitely open to it. And I think at that stage of the game we just needed a little spark, and switching up the lines was definitely something that could do that for us.”

Third period

The Terriers managed to simplify their game and really settle into a groove during the third period, netting three goals in the frame. For more on that, read Sarah’s sider.

Special teams

During its first two games, BU’s power play looked good. The Terriers were moving the puck well and creating chances for themselves, but they had only converted once out of nine opportunities they had with the man advantage.

On Saturday, though, the scarlet and white were able to capitalize on two of their five power plays as they maintained heavy offensive zone pressure. In their first attempt, though the Terriers didn’t score, they spent so much time in UConn’s zone that the second unit never got a chance to hit the ice. On a delayed penalty, even, BU was able to keep possession of the puck for 47 seconds before the Huskies touched for the whistle.

“We spent an awful lot of time in the offensive zone on the power play,” Quinn said. “We had chances and chances.

“That power play’s going to keep getting better.”

Of the 33 shots BU took on Saturday, 10 came on the man advantage, and seven of their 15 third period shots were of the power play variety.

The two successful conversions resulted in Forsbacka Karlsson’s first collegiate marker and sophomore defenseman Brandon Fortunato’s second of the year.

On the other side of special teams, the penalty kill was perfect as BU went to the box four times during the contest. The Terriers have allowed just one goal while shorthanded so far this season. It was the first penalty they took of the year against Union on Oct. 10. Since then, they have not conceded a power-play goal the last 12 times they’ve had someone in the box.

Minuses

Puck management

Though BU managed a win, Quinn said he thought the team’s puck management was “incredibly sloppy” and that his squad held onto the puck way too long. He said that, along with the way the defense played, contributed to the Terriers’ problems on the night.

“I thought that’s as bad as we played as a D corps unit from a puck management standpoint,” he said. “We held onto it way too long, we weren’t making stick-to-stick passes, we just were very sloppy.”

How “cute”

For two periods, Quinn said he thought the team played “incredibly cute.” That, he said, wasn’t going to get them anywhere in this game.

O’Regan said his coach was referring to the way his team entered the offensive zone. Many guys were trying to make plays through the middle in a way that played “right into [UConn’s] system, where they sag back, and it’s kind of what they want us to do.”

In the third period, though, the Terriers were able to use their speed and take guys wide, O’Regan said, possessing the puck down low to try and create offense.

Second period penalties

Though the Terriers were perfect on the penalty kill Saturday, Quinn said his team’s trips to the box in the second period were “unnecessary” and “stupid.”

BU took one penalty in the first period as sophomore defenseman John MacLeod went off for tripping, and then the Terriers were sent to the box three times in the second. Two of those three penalties were committed by sophomore defenseman Brandon Hickey, who went off for cross-checking 59 seconds into the frame and then got called for interference at 9:16.

Cloonan also sat for two minutes at 13:56 for hooking.

28 thoughts on “Pluses and Minuses: Terriers open Hockey East play with ‘hard-fought’ win over UConn

  1. What if ? If we had not had such an anti hockey administration and Max was here we could start ordering the rings today.

  2. no caesar, you got it all wrong. you see, BU is an Ivy league school (actually the top Ivy league school in the nation) and thus their standard are very high. so to take Max would be a blight on their reputation. and we can’t have that now, can we? if you don’t believe, you can ask the administration, they will tell you

    maybe some day we can abolish the men’s program and have club co-ed hockey instead. that would perfectly coincide with the 4 pm afternoon siestas

    i hope i did not personally attack anyone in saying this.

  3. Vincent well said…..ok we have had 3 Sat games so far. Two at 4p and one at 7p. No question which one was the money maker?

  4. Not often can I agree with all comments, but you guys are right on. I’ve said it before in prior comments; the Admissions Dept. was sending a message.

    I wish Max Letunov all the luck in the world, except against BU. But I do get a sick feeling in my stomach every time he scores. Probably should get myself to CVS to pick up a supply of Alka Seltzer.

    P.S. You can bet several of the Ivies would have taken him if they had the opportunity, especially if he is fluent in more than one language.

  5. that first goal by max was a thing of beauty. beautiful backhander with just the tiniest bit of daylight to shoot

    liking that fortunate is shooting

    good move by DQ dropping greenway down and bringing cloonan up to the first. greenway is not ready for prime time first line action

    mcguire look solid. my first look at him this year was in the under 18 game so this was refreshing

    what’s up with hickey. 3 penalties. not cool

    stillnwaiting for aj greer to show me something

  6. Thank you, Vincent. I now can tell everyone I am an Ivy League grad. Wow. I guess I can speak Russian and English like Max.

  7. that’s right son of caesare. “ten thousand men from BU”. hmmm, just doesn’t have the same ring

    anyway, how bout den guys up the street? i know they have not played anybody, but 3 straight shut outs is nothing to sneeze at. even crappy trams score at least one

    i would like to see switzer play forward for a game or two and have greenway watch. just to see the game from a different perspective. might help him learn what it takes. not trying to punish the kid, but he needs to know, “this is hockey east, so let’s started”

  8. Max is 8th in the nation in scoring. He would have been even better with DO and Big O as his wingers. What a kick in the backside.

  9. Ozzie, six goals in four games for a freshman is tremendous accomplishment. The issues with admissions is an on going battle that I can remember from the Jack Kelly Era. Unfortunately with the current administration it is not going to get better any time soon.

  10. Larry, you hit that on the head. The Letunov situation is even more appalling when you realize that there are many admissions that get significant “courtesies” to get into BU, just as at many other colleges including the Ivies. Right now under this administration, it has become even more difficult than in the past. Kudos to DQ, Albie and Scott for the job they are doing under the current circumstances.

    I was never a big John Silber fan, but he did appreciate the success of the hockey program under Jack Parker and what that success meant to the BU community. And, Silber did listen to a number of “hockey people” That ended when Jack “retired.”

    Turning to the you can’t get ’em all category, has anyone noticed that our neighbor to the west had a big “get” for the class of 2017. Former Penn State top forward commit, Logan Hutsko, is now committed to BC. Check out CHN News.

  11. So I’,m wondering why everyone is talking about Max instead of the guys we have? I think Max did great but in my eyes, I don’t care about him anymore since he is not a Terrier, for whatever reason it is. I’m a huge BU hockey fan and I know losing him hurt us. But I am wondering, for all the talk on here, why is he on the 2nd line and not the first? Is it to not match him up with the other teams top line and that way he scores more? But I think we have some pretty amazing talent that we could be talking about. Overall I think it was a pretty sloppy game and we were lucky to come out with a win. It’ll be interesting to see how the quick turnaround affects us tomorrow night….

  12. Good point Allison. I am impressed with who we actually do have on our team this year. I am particularly curious to see the impact that getting #5 back will have on our team. I will be driving up to Hartford on Tuesday and am very much looking forward to seeing others from Terrier Nation at the pre-game party. Anybody going?

  13. Allison: Why do all the students side with the administration on this? When I was in school they did not at all. I believe that it is because of the political correctness you guys have been fed over the years. Students today do not think independently at and that is not a good thing. The problem going forward is that this kind of attitude will hurt the program in the long run. Most of all college hockey players are on the margin when it comes to academics. One of the reasons is that they go away from their high schools early and lose the continuum of their high school programs while playing juniors. This happened to a cousin of mine a few years ago and he never recovered. When someone called the Russian in question a “moron” that was a bit much. Morons can not do the basic work that will be required at U Conn.

  14. U guys still in that admission stuff let it go enjoy the hockey season and the effort this kids are giving always negative this blog is too talk or blog about the games etc not the same nonsense every week dam ..people showing their true colors. … let’s go bu!!! Real fans still have faith ….

  15. I have been a fan since the Kelly era. That gives me the right to comment. We want to see CHAMPIONSHIPS and we see the administration blocking same. Go BU.

  16. The reason there is all this Max talk going on is that we do not have anyone that can score like that. Toss the Wisc. game out as they are one of the worst teams in college hockey and you can see we have a hard time scoring.

  17. Ozzie … “one of the worst teams in college hockey”? Are you kidding? I’m trying to unravel that logic but am having a hard time.

  18. Allison, six goals on four games, all our freshman combined do not have six goals. Although I think the majority of the B.U.freshman already have made a positive impact and will continue to get better. I doubt anyone will match Maxes’ prolific scoring.Max is probably on the second line because he is adapting to a new team in a very difficult environment. In my opinion he is the most talented player on the U Conn team.

    • Larry — Agreed on both points (re: BU freshmen making positive impact & Letunov’s offensive abilities). I think on this year’s BU team Letunov is the 2nd or even 3rd line center and a fixture on the PP. He’d probably add a lot to BU’s offense given he’d be put in a position to take advantage of better matchups against opponents’ 2nd/3rd lines.

      As much faith as I have in this year’s team, I knew once the Letunov situation materialized that it’d hurt this team’s ability to score. The depth they would have had down the middle w/ O’Regan, JFK and Letunov would’ve been great, not to mention the coaching staff having flexibility to move O’Regan or JFK to wing if needed.

      Having said that, seeing a 0-0-0 so far from Baillargeon, Greer and Greenway is a bit of a concern. Those 3 have to get going and contribute offensively. The fact that Cloonan and Fortunato are the team’s leading scorers so far highlights the potential for problems if the guys expected to score don’t.

  19. Glenn, I agree that # 5 will have huge impact on this B.U. team. Also if Nick Ruberto is let out of witness protection , he will add consistency as a two way forward that does not make mistakes at crucial times.I wonder if he will dress seven defensemen when # 5 returns.

  20. Big Roy, unfortunately admissions decisions impact the program especially when one of your top recruits is key contributor for a league opponent.

  21. Glenn, I believe Wisconsin won five games last year and have won none so far this year. So they probably are one of the worst teams that B.U. will face all year. However it is still prestigious to beat a big ten team no matter what the record of the opponent.

  22. Friend of BU Hockey, I am also very concerned about the scoring. The fact the three of your top six forwards have 0.0 points, after three games is very disappointing. Especially since two of returning players are expected to make a big step forward and dramatic impact on his years team. It is still early so I hope that this stretch of games is an aberration and not the norm.

  23. Ozzie, my bad. I reread your comment and I completely misinterpreted it. I thought you were saying that BU was one of the worst teams in college hockey. Upon further review, I realize you were alluding to Wisconsin. Yes, they probably are.

  24. Sir Caesar,

    Yes the name of the game is championships and W’s. in no way do i want to come by these awards in an illicit manner. i don’t want to cheat or break ncaa rules. that said….

    alison, are you saying the Max was that bad a student that he could not be accepted by BU but he could by Uconn? Pahleeeeeez

    this administration sucks and is undermining the program. it is not about Max per se, but about the self-aggrandizing admin. that is why i and/or some of us are still griping. and every time i see him score, it is just a bitter reminder that administration does not support the hockey program

    on another note, good points about the dearth of scoring, especially up front. these guys, especially greer, ballergeron, greenway need to step it up. makes you see how much eichel and Arod carried this team on their backs last year

  25. sorry Allison. I did not mean to spell your name wrong, and Caesar i was not suggesting that you were advocating cheating. i ran those two thoughts together and that could be misconstrued

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