The matchup against Northeastern University was highlighted by some big goals and some stressful back-and-forth action — and an even more stressful final few minutes. But in a game with that much action, it gives us a lot to talk about in this edition of Pluses and Minuses.
Forgive that terrible attempt at a joke. But man, was sophomore goaltender Connor LaCouvee huge in that third period. He calmly turned away 19 shots from Northeastern in the frame, preserving BU’s 5-4 lead and holding off a 6-on-4 attempt from Northeastern for the final minute-and-a-half of the game. He ended the game with a career-best 36 saves.
Despite some shakiness in the middle period — LaCouvee admits to perhaps losing some focus in the second — he was able to turn in a staunch performance in his second straight start.
In a year with some uncertainty as to who the starting goaltender will be, BU head coach David Quinn has mentioned time and time again that he doesn’t think his goaltenders’ stats this year are indicative of the performances they’ve had. LaCouvee, too, said that as he’s grown as a goaltender, he’s become less focused on individual stats and more keeping his team in the game.
“It’s a team game, and you let four goals in the second period, that’s kind of tough, just mental lapses on my behalf,” LaCouvee said. “But I think it’s more important to focus on the win at the end of the game, and just, not focus so much on individual plays … the guys battled really hard, and just take it to the end, you never know how it’s gonna end.”
We’ve praised junior defenseman Doyle Somerby for much of this season for his increased speed and poise on the offensive end. But in Friday’s game against Northeastern, Somerby went back to his old, aggressive ways, with one of the — forgive the clichéd word — grittiest plays of the game.
In the second period, with BU attempting to limit the Huskies’ scoring attempts, Somerby blocked a shot off his leg, then collapsed to the ice in pain. He attempted to get back up probably about three or four times, falling back to the ice each time. Then he managed to stand mostly upright, and block ANOTHER shot, though it’s sort of unclear whether that he actually meant to do that — “I’m not sure if that was intentional or if he was just kind of in the way,” LaCouvee later said about the play.
Regardless, it was a “huge” play, according to Quinn.
“He was immense tonight, he was physical, he did a great job on the penalty kill [and] blocking shots,” Quinn said.
Defensemen still scoring
Quinn is pretty modest about the offensive ability of his team’s defensemen.
“Well, I think in this day and age, you need five guys involved offensively,” Quinn said. “If you’re just going to rely on three forwards, you’re gonna be really starving for goals and I don’t think we’re much different than other teams asking their D to get involved.”
Nonetheless, defensemen accounted for three of BU’s five goals on Friday, and they’ve accounted for a significant chunk of their offense this season – 10 of the Terriers’ 26 goals have come from defensemen, to be exact.
Sophomore defenseman Brandon Hickey is tied with freshman forward Ryan Cloonan for the team lead in goals, as Hickey had a third-period, game-tying tally to bring his season total to four goals.
With his third goal this season, tripling his goal total from last year, sophomore Brandon Fortunato ranks second among all Hockey East defensemen in scoring with seven total points.
And, well, there was one more defenseman who was big on offense…
On that same note of defensemen getting on the board, senior captain Matt Grzelcyk had a goal and an assist in his first game back after recovering from offseason surgery. Andrew has more on Grzelcyk’s triumphant return to the ice in his sidebar.
In his postgame comments, Quinn kept bringing the topic back to the number of penalties the team committed in the game. BU had nine penalties in the game — one matching — thus giving Northeastern 16 power-play minutes. The Huskies were able to capitalize, recording 12 shots and earning one goal from their power-play unit.
“You can’t have eight penalties, that’s just, you can’t,” Quinn said. “You really put yourself at a disadvantage when you take eight penalties and it’s just, that’s 16 minutes, almost a full period shorthanded and that’s just, that’s too much.”
It’s hard to ignore the glaring fact that BU did allow four goals in the second period. As we stated earlier, LaCouvee admitted to his lack of focus, and Quinn noticed a similar theme, which caused him to call a time out after Northeastern’s fourth goal.
“I just talked about the focus, lack of focus, we reacted, we give up a goal, it’s 2-1 and all of a sudden it’s 4-3 because we lose focus,” Quinn said. “We blow our responsibilities off the neutral zone faceoffs and we actually batted one of them in.”
“I thought we lost focus … people just not paying attention and taking on their responsibilities,” he added.