Pluses and Minuses: Terriers overcome slow start, poor defense to earn comeback win over Harvard

The Boston University men’s hockey team pulled off quite the unbelievable win on Thursday against Harvard University, scoring three goals within a span of 2:09 in the last four minutes of regulation to win 6-5.

Now that we’ve actually read over the box score and have caught up on that whirlwind of an ending, we’ve also taken some time to reflect on exactly what we liked — and didn’t like — from that game:


Thrilling comeback
Well, these guys certainly like to keep it interesting, to say the least — and they certainly understand that the game isn’t over until it’s over. This win marked the Terriers’ eighth come-from-behind win or tie this year, and fifth win in that situation.

“At 5-3 it’s still a hockey game, you know what I mean?” said BU head coach David Quinn. “Anything can happen, there’s still plenty of time and then you got the goal and then boom. Like I said, I thought we were playing better as the game went on, we just kept playing better and better and we started competing and winning some battles and playing smarter hockey and not trying to make heroic plays.

“We had some really good players make some really good plays to score some goals, and the next thing you know it’s 6-5.”

Starting off the year strong — and moving up the rankings
With the win over an extremely competitive opponent, BU jumped to No. 9 in the Pairwise rankings, and set a positive tone for the team as the second half of the season gets underway.

“Yeah it’s huge, it was a tough schedule to come on after a month off to play … obviously a really good team, such a big win,” said BU senior assistant captain Danny O’Regan. “That would have been a tough one to drop because you know there are games like that that matter most at the end so that was huge for us.”

Happy and healthy
One of the most significant things tonight was that BU returned essentially its entire full, healthy lineup. Sophomore forward Nikolas Olsson, who missed the previous three games after re-aggravating an upper-body injury, joined the lineup again. Senior captain Matt Grzelcyk also returned after missing the past six games with a knee injury.

But perhaps the most triumphant appearance tonight was from senior forward Ahti Oksanen, who suffered an upper-body injury after crashing into the boards against Quinnipiac University on Dec. 12. The damage looked really, really bad at the time, and there were various conflicting reports about the severity of Oksanen’s injury. We were told initially that the team was hopeful for his return after winter break, and it looks like the team got its wish.

Not only did Oksanen return for Thursday’s game, he also came back with a strong showing in the game, including tallying a game-winning goal.

The three guys above were described as “game-time decisions” by Quinn prior to Thursday’s game, but considering how pivotal those players are to BU’s success, it’s an extremely, extremely good thing for BU to see those guys back and performing well.

Senior power
All of BU’s goals tonight were provided by the senior class. You can read more about the seniors and their leadership in the sider written by our pal Nick, who filled in for Andrew tonight.


Sluggish start
I was going to look up how many times we’ve written about sluggish starts, but it would’ve been quite a difficult task to find them all. It goes hand in hand with the amazing comeback — for every comeback, there must be a pretty rough patch in the game.

But BU’s start was rougher than rough. I’d venture to say it was probably the Terriers’ worst start of the season. They were pretty darn lucky they weren’t down by several goals after being outshot 18-2 in the first period.

“Watching what was going on in the first period, I knew it was going to be bad, I just didn’t know it was going to be that bad,” Quinn said.

They weren’t much better in the second period, but they were only outshot 11-8 in that frame.
This is how Quinn described the course of the first two periods:

“When the game started out, we were terrible. As the period went on, we went from terrible to awful, and then we closed the first period out being less awful. When the second period started we were bad, and then we got to not-so-bad and then to okay and then to pretty good.”

Sounds about right. You could probably point to rust or the lack of practice, but that first period was about as bad as we’ve seen BU play all year.

Which brings us to our next point….

Jet lag, or just bad defense?
One of the most significant topics of conversation entering Thursday’s game was the return of several players from the World Juniors Championships. Quinn said that all four Terriers participating in the tournament “got off planes in the last 24 hours,” and O’Regan said that freshman forward Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson didn’t land until earlier on Thursday.

That’s not accounting for three of BU’s defensemen — sophomores Brandon Hickey and Brandon Fortunato and freshman Charlie McAvoy — who all suited up for the Terriers against Harvard.

Quinn said that he didn’t consider benching any of the WJC players, dismissing that particular question in a postgame media scrum with a simple “nope.”

He went on to insist that any issues with the defense weren’t attributed to jet lag or fatigue, however, despite half of the active D having come off a plane in the past 24 hours.

“We turned the puck over an awful lot, and we were slow-thinking,” Quinn said. “We weren’t playing very fast, and that causes a lot of problems. Some of it’s fatigue I’m sure, but it’s also been a problem when guys haven’t come off planes. We’ve got to do a better job of managing the puck, our defensive core has to do a better job managing the puck.”


  1. Son of Caesar Carlaci

    Their poor start was understandable in that jet lag is a real thing. Also three of our guys had not played in quite some time because of injury. Good job overall for sure.

  2. EXCELLENT job! What a way to build upon the positive energy gained from the win against QU on 12/12/15! I was at that game and never expected to see Ahti back in the line-up after that frightening injury. BTW, we scored six goals on one of the top goalies in the nation … last night. On a final note, I just LOVE hearing Bernie’s call of a big BU goal. His passion is world-class.

  3. The relative silence on this thread speaks volumes about where some people are coming from.

  4. You know it Glen. Where are all the “long time fans”?? This was the most amazing game. Totally brought me back to 2009.
    Where are all you big mouthed critics????

  5. Well to start off with, I am not a critic. To get it out there, I am a supporter of DQ since his unfortunately short playing days and I continue to support him now as a coach. Beyond that, I have been an ardent fan of BU hockey for a long, long time. Indeed, from what I can tell, much longer than anyone on this blog. But, comments have been infrequent lately as I am very disturbed by the vitriol I have seen recently. Other than the comments of two years ago, obviously from up the street, all those who post on this blog, even Larry, have a special love of BU hockey. My comments; disagreement is acceptable, but it doesn’t do the program any good to be hyper-critical of the program or among ourselves. So, I have just sat back and watched. Good luck to David, Albie and Scott. And, as Al Davis once said, “Just win baby, just win.” Go BU!

    • I used to get upset when bloggers would take shots at DQ,not anymore.Now I just think it is comical,people posting who should be playing on certain lines,with certain players,and other non sense.If they were such great hockey minds,I think they would have his job.One of the best coaching jobs in all of College Hockey.

  6. Miraculous we scored 3 goals in 2 minutes for the win! Lane, O’Regan, and Ahti came up big, but it was Mcguire who saved the game. Yes there were 5 goals against, but Mcguire was fantastic. Harvard had 7-8 easy chip-ins that hit posts or were turned away. Our top 2 lines kept us in the game for 60 minutes, but the bottom 2 lines played poorly in all 3 zones and need an extreme make over for us to be successful this season. You only get a miracle like last night once every few years.

  7. amazing win, but they need to finish the job and beat umass on saturday

    how was the new kid? anyone see him?

    also the third line was a defensive liability. aka carpenter a -3, ballageron -2. ollson -2

    this whole season rides on the shoulders of mcguire. if he is on, i say drop the puck. if not ……

  8. What a great finish to the game and we should tremendous fight and yes I know we got dominated for first 2 periods but hung in there thanks to a great job by maguire although he would like to have that softy back… given the players hadn’t played in 1 month def a season turning game….very proud of these guys keep it going boys!!!!! Woooooo… “where’s the puck bernie”???? …

  9. Sarah. Was #16 a healthy scratch? His absence surprised me.

  10. Awesome win,could be the beginning of a very good second half of the season.Why am I not surprised that certain bloggers didn’t post any comments???Oh,I am sure that they are on the way….

  11. Clearly the best victory of the season. Despite being dominated for two periods the team hung tough and then totally dominated an excellent Harvard team. Best comeback since the 2009 national championship game . Congratulations to the coaching staff and players for beating two highly ranked teams in their own barn and in consecutive games. Both wins dramatically impact B.U.s pair wise rankings.

  12. Larry,I hope you had a great Holiday,and I agree with what you just posted,hopefully things will continue to get better.The last 2 wins are very impressive,especially with the Terriers playing so poorly in the first two periods,but they didn’t pack it in,and showed a never die attitude.

  13. Where was Kelly last night? I heard he would take Greer’s spot on the 3rd line? Vincent asked about the new kid. I wish I could give a good review. Poor skater, couldn’t handle the puck, looked lost, etc. I’m sure a nice kid, but should be in D3.

  14. gerry,

    seriously that bad? could it have been a case of nerves?

    i do not want to see kelly in there. to me that means we are scraping the bottom of the barrel. that kid is D3. nothing personal against the kid

    need to win tonight. huge game, cuz guess who’s coming to dinner next weekend?

  15. As much as i think Macleod has been a major disappointment, still shocked he was scratched at Harvard

  16. Hey Vinnie,

    Do not worry Andren and Kelly are not in the same ballpark.

  17. I heard guys saying Kelley has the best shot on the team. We could sure use some production on the 3rd or 4th line, especially next weekend.

  18. gerry
    maybe he does have the best shot but i talked to another guy who was at the game and thought andren was a smooth skater. at one point in the game he was playing the third like with ollsson and moran because DQ benched phelps, ballageron, and carpenter

  19. A super important game tonight. The momentum factor is critical to me. We have beaten two top-five teams. Don’t let that momentum stop, especially with an extremely difficult opponent coming up next weekend.

  20. A convincing, dominant win tonight! Just what we need going into next weekend with two games against you-know-who. They are feeling the same way … after taking three of four points from PC this weekend.