Pluses and Minuses: No. 9 Terriers notch 3rd consecutive win

Danny O'Regan. PHOTO BY MADDIE MALHOTRA/DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF
Danny O’Regan. PHOTO BY MADDIE MALHOTRA/DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF

No. 9 Boston University men’s hockey head coach David Quinn praised his team last weekend for giving full, 60-minute efforts in two wins over the University of Maine.

Those are the kind of games, he said, that are needed down the stretch drive as points become even more valuable. Even against a team like Merrimack College, one that had lost nine in a row coming into Friday, the Terriers would need another complete performance.

In another wire-to-wire effort, the Terriers (14-7-4, 8-4-3 Hockey East) shut out Merrimack, 4-0, with the combined efforts of two netminders, senior Sean Maguire and sophomore Connor LaCouvee.

Four different Terriers scored en route to BU’s third consecutive win and fourth game in a row which the team has earned at least a point.

“I thought we played smart hockey, we possessed it, we didnt turn the puck over,” Quinn said, “a lot of good things and a tough game to play, tough game to play.”

We’ll take a look at the good, the bad and the straight up weird in this Pluses and Minuses.

Pluses 

Lane at the top

We’re going to go out on a limb and assume not many people had Matt Lane as their preseason pick to be the team leader in goals.

But as of the end of this game, that’s where Lane finds himself, though he is technically tied with his classmate, winger Ahti Oksanen.

A week after Maine head coach Red Gendron said his team had “no answer” for Lane and his linemates, Lane scored his 14th goal of the season about halfway through the third period of this one, getting his own rebound and tapping the puck past Merrimack (7-14-5, 2-8-5 Hockey East) goaltender Collin Delia.

The goal was one portion of his three-point night, the second straight game that Lane has recorded three points. In his last four outings, Lane is averaging two points per game.

A lot of what Lane has done to get better in the goal department, according to Quinn, is the fact that he is adding more practice time to his shooting.

“Well, number one, he skates so well,” Quinn said. “Two, he’s really worked on his shot, he’s scored some goal-scorer’s goals. He can really snap it, he gets it off quick, he understands you gotta get inside the hash marks to create some offense and it’s great to see him get rewarded.

“I mean, 14 goals for him is a heck of a senior year.”

Oksanen’s milestone 

Speaking of the other skater with 14 goals, Oksanen added his latest tally at the 18:42 mark of the third period, BU’s fourth and final goal.

But the goal, in the grand scheme of the game, was irrelevant. However, for Oksanen, it was more than just stat-padder.

The empty-netter was Oksanen’s 50th-career goal in the BU uniform, a pretty impressive feat considering the fact that he was a full-time defenseman at this time two years ago. He also joins senior assistant captain Danny O’Regan as the second Terrier to reach the half-century mark in career goals this season.

For as much as he shoots the puck — both during games and practice — Oksanen makes it work and continues to be a force any time he touches the puck in the offensive zone.

Seniors stand out 

If it hasn’t been apparent already, the big takeaway from this game was the fact that the seniors played well.

Four elder statesmen (Lane, Oksanen, O’Regan and captain Matt Grzelcyk) combined for six points in the win. O’Regan’s lone point of the night came on a shorthanded attempt in the second period where he took the puck from center ice and broke all alone on goal, beating Delia up high.

“Danny played great tonight, had a lot of energy in the third period,” Quinn said, “him and Matt Lane I thought had really good third periods and, again, your seniors, your seniors have to deliver and three of them get goals tonight so good night for them.”

In the crease, Maguire made all the stops he needed to (27 total), including 10 on Merrimack power-play chances. But that’s only a smidgen of what happened with Maguire tonight. More on that in the minuses…

Minuses 

Bad break for Maguire

Early in the first period during a Merrimack rush, Maguire didn’t quite look himself. It wasn’t the fact that he wasn’t stopping the puck, but he couldn’t move from post-to-post with the quickness that he normally has.

But it was no fault of his own. In an unfortunate incident, his skate blade somehow popped off, and he was forced to come out of the game for a 5:49 stretch to get it fixed.

In that brief span, Maguire not only lost his bid for a shutout (he would have had to have played the full game), but he also lost his chance for a win. Junior forward Robbie Baillargeon scored what turned out to be the decisive goal, which gave LaCouvee the victory.

Sarah has more about this “peculiar” situation in her sidebar.

Penalties add up, power play fails to convert 

It wasn’t as if the BU penalty kill wasn’t good, as it went a perfect 6-for-6 for the evening.

But the fact that the Terriers took six penalties in one game is definitely on the negative side. The second period could have gotten out of hand, with the Warriors garnering seven shots on net.

BU’s power play had ample opportunity to get an extra-man goal, but went 0-for-4. Going back to the Terriers’ 1-1 tie with No. 5 Boston College, BU is 1-for-18 on the power play.

Quinn held no secrets about his feelings toward the power-play unit on Friday.

“Didn’t like it,” Quinn said. “Not surprised we didn’t have success. Just, we’re too slow. We’re too methodical, we’re too slow, there’s no pace to our power play right now, which is kind of funny because it was clicking at a great pace when we came back from Christmas but we’re just, we don’t have a shooter’s mentality, we don’t pass it quick enough.

“Other than that, it’s unbelievable.”

Live Blog: No. 9 BU vs. Merrimack

Series preview
Power rankings

BU lines 

Oskar Andrén-Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson-Danny O’Regan
Jordan Greenway-Matt Lane-Ahti Oksanen
Ryan Cloonan-Bobo Carpenter-Robbie Baillargeon
Chase Phelps-Mike Moran-Tommy Kelley

Matt Grzelcyk-Charlie McAvoy
Brandon Hickey-Brandon Fortunato
Doyle Somerby-Brien Diffley

Sean Maguire
Connor LaCouvee
Max Prawdzik

Merrimack lines:
Justin Hussar-Brian Christie-Ben Bahe
Hampus Gustafsson-Ludvig Larsson-Mathieu Foget
Jace Hennig-Brett Seney-Mathieu Tibbet
Derek Petti-Michael Babcock-Chris LeBlanc

Marc Biega-Alex Carle
Ethan Spaxman-Jonathan Lashyn
Jared Kolquist-Aaron Titcomb

Collin Delia
Drew Vogler
Craig Pantano

Officials
Jamie Koharski
Geoffrey Miller
Joe Ross
Marc Sullivan

Live Blog BU vs. Merrimack (1/29/16)
 

Report: ’98 F Ty Amonte commits to BU

Amonte has spent the past four seasons at Thayer Academy in Braintree. His Elite Prospects page is a bit limited, but looks like he had a two-game stint for both the Youngstown Phantoms of the USHL and some time at U.S. national team camp.

He had 40 points in 30 games for Thayer last season. He stands at 5-foot-11 and weighs 180 pounds, and is a Norwood native.

Pluses and Minuses: No. 11 Terriers turn in six full periods of work in finishing sweep of Maine

PHOTO BY MADDIE MALHOTRA/DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF
PHOTO BY MADDIE MALHOTRA/DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF

In an overall commanding performance on Saturday night at Agganis Arena, the No. 11 Boston University men’s hockey team defeated its conference foe in the University of Maine.

The Terriers (13-7-4, 7-4-3 Hockey East) earned their second series sweep of the season in a 6-1 win over the Black Bears (5-15-6, 2-8-2 Hockey East) after besting them the night prior as well.

“I thought that we really came to play for six periods this weekend,” said BU head coach David Quinn. “We were skating, we were pressuring the puck, and had an urgency to our game. The thing we’re trying to do is make teams earn ice. And I thought we did a pretty good job of that this weekend.”

Here’s a look at what we thought went right and wrong in this edition of pluses and minuses.

Pluses

Bobo Carpenter

Since he was moved back to his natural position of center, freshman forward Bobo Carpenter has definitely shown improvement in terms of production and comfortability on the ice. Andrew has more about this in his sider from tonight.

Six full periods

With some wins this season coming from one or two dominant periods in a game as opposed to a game-long effort, making sure BU is giving its all for the entirety of a contest has become more and more of a focus. As Quinn and his players put it, the Terriers made a conscious attempt to put together two full 60-minute efforts on the weekend.

“We kept our heads in the game,” Carpenter said. “We definitely focused down, and we wanted to play 60 minutes both games, and we didn’t want to let them take control of the game at any part of the weekend.”

While a 5-2 win on Friday and a 6-1 victory on Saturday don’t indicate any sort of lack of control on the Terriers’ part, there was definitely a larger divergence in the latter game of the series. Statistically, where BU and Maine were mostly even on the stat sheet aside from actual goals put in the net, Saturday showed a clearer distinction in all facets. However, senior assistant captain Matt Lane said the team didn’t sense much of a difference from night to night.

“Yesterday’s game we kind of, we felt the same way,” he said. “Both games we skated, both games we were physical. Unfortunately they capitalized on a couple power-play goals [on Friday], not that our penalty kill was too bad, they were opportunistic. But like I said, for the most part, six periods, we felt that we were fast, we felt that we were physical, and that’s why we controlled both games, all six periods.”

Carpenter mentioned that the more hostile atmosphere in Alfond Arena made it difficult for the Terriers, but they were able to hunker down and stay focused and get the win. On Saturday at Agganis, where those in the stands were a little more supportive, “it made it a little bit easier to calm the nerves down” as well.

Lane added that, at this point in the season in the Hockey East standings, “it’s time to buckle down” and “string together some wins.” The Terriers know what they’re capable of, he said, and felt they weren’t meeting their standards so they turned the focus to themselves and not the team they are playing against. With a critical eye on its own game, then, BU was able to play “maybe the first weekend” of six full periods start to finish.

This winger has a first name, it’s O-s-k-a-r
OK, horrible subheading aside, freshman forward Oskar Andrén, while hardly looking out of place in his first couple games, has showcased his skills more and more each time he’s on the ice. On Saturday, the winger had a pair of assists (his first collegiate points), recorded a shot on goal and took part in special teams play, too.

“He’s played very well,” Quinn said. “For a guy to come in here less than a month ago and have the impact that he’s had on our lineup, and I was really happy to see him get rewarded on the scoresheet tonight. He’s a really smart player. Works hard, smart, good vision, he’s really made an impact for us.”

Doyle Somerby

The de facto game-winning goal in Saturday’s game was scored by junior defenseman Doyle Somerby. It wasn’t a blast from the point with a screen in front like a lot of blue liner goals are. Instead, Somerby stole the puck from defenseman Sam Becker behind the Maine goal line and tucked it wraparound style through goaltender Rob McGovern’s five hole for his fourth goal of the season.

“In general and all year, Doyle’s been a little more aggressive,” Lane said. “In the past he’s been more defensive, and this year he’s stepped up. He’s trusting his legs more, and you can kind of tell like that, he just had it in his gut that he was going to win that battle and take it to the net.

“Those are the kind of things that we need as a team, and it’s great to see Doyle getting some goals this year.”

Minuses

I mean…it snowed? No, in all seriousness, there was very little to dislike about BU’s performance on Saturday.

The Terriers limited Maine to just 23 shots while taking 37 of their own, were perfect on the penalty kill, allowed just one goal, held a 35-20 advantage in faceoffs and did damage on the power play. They looked poised and in control throughout and netted five-plus goals for the fourth time in six games.

They’re not giving me a whole lot to pick at today.

Live blog: No. 11 BU vs. Maine

Friday recap
Friday sider on second line
Friday pluses and minuses

Series preview

BU lines:
Ryan Cloonan-Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson-Danny O’Regan
Jordan Greenway-Matt Lane-Ahti Oksanen
Oskar Andrén-Bobo Carpenter-Robbie Baillargeon
Chase Phelps-Mike Moran-Tommy Kelley

Matt Grzelcyk-Charlie McAvoy
Brandon Hickey-Brandon Fortunato
Doyle Somerby-Brien Diffley

Sean Maguire
Connor LaCouvee
Max Prawdzik

Maine lines:
Dane Gibson-Steven Swavely-Brendan Robbins
Nolan Vesey-Cam Brown-Blaine Byron
Will Merchant-Brian Morgan-Brady Campbell
Daniel Perez-Cedric Lacroix-Andrew Tegeler

Dan Renouf-Conor Riley
Eric Schurhamer-Sam Becker
Mark Hamilton-Bill Norman

Rob McGovern
Matt Morris
Sean Romeo

Officials:
Stephen McInchak
Peter Schlittenhardt
Tommy George
Marc Sullivan

Live Blog BU vs. Maine (01-23-2016)
 

Pluses and Minuses: Fourth, second lines shine, penalty kill continues to struggle against Maine

ORONO, Maine — The No. 11 Boston University men’s hockey team got back in the win column with a 5-2 victory over the University of Maine on Friday evening at Alfond Arena.

Two goals and two assists from senior forward Ahti Oksanen and three assists from freshman forward Jordan Greenway stole the show for BU, but there were quite a few more things we took away from the game. Behold, another edition of pluses and minuses:

Pluses

Fourth line

It was mostly cool tonight to see the team’s fourth line — comprised tonight of sophomore Chase Phelps, senior Mike Moran and junior Tommy Kelley — really get in the action tonight. Moran finally notched his first goal of the season at the 12:16 mark of the second period. They were one of the most active lines early, especially.

“I thought they played very well,” said BU head coach David Quinn. “They were physical, they possessed the puck, they kept simple, they got some scoring chances, there was a lot of good things with that line tonight.”

With an injury to sophomore forward Nikolas Olsson, that gave a chance to Kelley to work his way into the lineup, and we’re consistently wowed with his effort. We’ve compared him to former Terrier forward Cason Hohmann before, and we saw that again tonight, in terms of just putting his head down and using his speed to keep up with the play and keep Maine fooled.

“Just play hard, play fast,” Kelley said about how he’s trying to make his way into this lineup. “Take the body, move the puck quick, get it to the net, take pucks to the net. Just stand out in any way I can.”

Second line, too
Everyone had a lot of nice things to say about the second line tonight, too, with Oksanen, senior assistant captain Matt Lane and Greenway taking charge offensively. Judy has more about that in her sidebar tonight.

Settling down

Maine might have hands down the best fans I’ve seen all season. I missed the trip to Orono last season, so this was my first time witnessing the Maine student section in all its glory. And full props to them, they’re certainly something between their chants and antics. It could have been an intimidating environment, but BU quieted things early with a goal from senior captain Matt Grzelcyk 14:19 into the first period.

“I guess you kind of expect that, coming into a building like this, with the students they have, pretty loud, pretty crazy,” Kelley said. “So I think we fended that off pretty well, and then turned it up pretty quick, which is good. Grizzy got that goal, which was huge. So I think that really helped.”

Red Gendron

Maine head coach Red Gendron might be one of our favorite coaches in Hockey East, because he loves to tell it how it is in his postgame press conferences. And basically, this was such a great quote we felt the need to highlight it specifically. In response to whether he was concerned about the quick turnaround of the home-and-home, he said:

“No, because the other team has the same situation as us. If we had to travel and they could be warped to Boston, like Star Trek stuff, then I’d be concerned, but it seems to me we’re both going to be riding down I-95.”

(I grew up in a bit of a “Star Trek”-obsessed household, so I’m a bit sentimental here more than anything.)

Minuses

Penalty kill
Both of Maine’s goals tonight were power-play goals. BU entered the game ranked just 33rd in penalty-kill percentage (.818), and Friday’s showing wasn’t much more encouraging in that regard.

“Obviously we’ve got to tighten things up on the penalty kill,” Quinn said. “We can’t be giving up two power-play goals, unfortunate from that perspective.”

Defense: Still a giant question mark
Sophomore defenseman John MacLeod, by our unofficial tally, missed a good portion of the second period and all of the third period because he was benched by Quinn.

When I asked him about that reasoning, he responded, “I just liked the way the other five guys were going. And just…” then he was cut off by an unrelated question from another reporter.

The benching happened after MacLeod let up way too easy of a chance for Maine while on the penalty kill, and didn’t stick with the play, giving forward Cam Brown all the room in the world to score.

As a side note before we get going: I haven’t really given senior goaltender Sean Maguire his due in this post. He certainly bailed out his team yet again with his 32 saves.

We’ve talked about this a bit previously, but it looks like that sixth defenseman spot is really just being switched off between MacLeod and sophomore Brien Diffley, while freshman defenseman Shane Switzer — who, again, is a sufficient option on the blue line, as we’ve defended many times on this blog — is stuck in no man’s land. I wouldn’t even go as far to say the other five regulars have been stellar, either, as there were some ugly, ugly turnovers throughout the game Friday.

But it seems pretty much based on the pattern to this point that those five core guys will play, unless there’s injury, and MacLeod or Diffley will be the sixth guy. I also asked Quinn about the sixth spot being switched off between subpar play from MacLeod and Diffley, and whether he thinks that’s a tangible solution going forward.

“I don’t think about that,” he said. “I don’t know, whoever plays well is going to play.”

I can possibly understand the reasoning behind not playing Switzer, to the extent that MacLeod and Diffley are older and have played more at BU. As in, I understand that that’s a possible thought. It doesn’t necessarily mean that’s defensible reasoning. Of course, I don’t see practice on a daily basis, and I don’t know what Quinn’s standards are for “playing well.” But there’s absolutely nothing we’ve seen from his limited game play that indicates Switzer is a worse option.

At this point, there’s no way Switzer isn’t a better option than benching a guy midway through a game and overexerting five defensemen that have already taken a bit of a step back this season. It’s mostly just frustrating, overall, to see what was supposed to be this team’s absolute biggest strength this year turn into such a gigantic question mark — and to see the same patterns continue, game after game, with limited change.