For the second straight game, the No. 11 Boston Univeristy men’s hockey team eked out a 5-4 victory — though this week, it didn’t need overtime.
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.
Our goalie “lost focus” and he did a great job? Really ? Sarah, come on! You are better than that.
My intent in giving him a plus, and my fault for not making it come through better, is that I was impressed he stayed so composed in the third period and especially in that final crazy two minute span. Not praising the second period by any means, and I don’t think anyone tangibly could — but at the end of the day, he locked it down when it mattered most. Losing focus is obviously never good but I’ll take the ability to regain focus — and the fact that he owned up to losing focus in the first place — any day. And Connor said himself that it’s not as much about individual stats and more about keeping his team in the game and putting them in a position to win. By those guidelines, he very much did that.
Was there last night and the place was rocking. There was more crown excitement in that one game than there has been all year. The whole team had a mental lapse focus issue in the second period but Connor was outstanding in the third period. So, yes, I completely understand the comment that Connor made and Sarah just reported (don’t shoot the messenger). It’s hockey and these things happen. BU got out shot by a wide margin (40-29) and still won the game on grit and determination. Northeastern was the better team in the third period (19-6 on shots) but BU STILL managed to put 2 goals in on 6 shots while Connor saved all 19 (about 16 of them top quality shots). Go Terriers!!!
meant crowd excitement not crown excitement in my previous comment.
Spot on WC! This was a great win!! I’m not sure how that team we played is 1-5 but man they came out to play last night. They were big, fast and physical. A game this BU team needed to win!
I liked Coach Quinn’s criticisms of the 2nd period. (Although some people think he only praises them!) The team was on their heels in the 2nd, RIDICULOUS amount of unnecessary penalties but in the end they worked it out and won!!
interesting BU stat before the game: goals for 3;goals against 3; record 3-3
Is it a question of inexperience that accounts for the self-admitted lapses in concentration? this is why, as JP once said, the game should be called goalie. just wish someone would grab the reins and be the #1, not by default, but rather by stellar play
hickey’s defensive game has regressed. perhaps it is because he is too offensive minded. i love offensive D-men, but you gotta play be smart about it. knowing when to jump in is as key as having the skis to do so
love the grit and tenacity of greenway and greer. but perhaps my expectations were wrong. i thought they were scorers either via goals or assists. i know greer was a force at kimball union. i know greer is young, and greenway is a rookie. but we need some offensive production from those guys
somerby is an absolute beast. at the end of the game, when it was 6 on 4, he and gryz were out there. that says a lot about DQ’s confidence in somerby
thrilled to see a BU forward finish a breakaway. Cloonan is the real deal. love that kid
robbie ballageron continues to be invisible
and how about that outwordly pass from the captain to the Big O. mercy!
i have heard some people critics; of the fact that most of the scoring comes from the D. that is okay by me as long as we get them
when i think about how much eichel impacted the team, i just look at danny o. i know he is trying. i see the effort, but not the kind of results i expected