The University of Massachusetts Amherst struck first on Saturday evening at Agganis Arena, but the Boston University men’s hockey team quickly righted the ship en route to a 7-2 win.
Senior defenseman Matt Grzelcyk stole the show and the World Juniors contingent impressed, serving as the highlights on a nearly seamless evening. Below are several positives and negatives from two crucial Hockey East points.
The Charlestown native scored a natural hat trick, showing how big of an impact he can have on this team. Read more about his influence in Judy’s sider.
After rattling off successive wins against Quinnipiac University and Harvard University, the Minutemen admittedly were going to pose a lesser threat in Maguire’s third straight start.
Nonetheless, UMass still peppered the senior goaltender to the tune of 27 shots, and it took opportunistic finishes from Shane Walsh and Steven Iacobellis to light the lamp. There is no denying that Maguire is getting into a groove, and that bodes extremely well for the Terriers with Boston College on the horizon next weekend.
Just ask Grzelcyk, who has embarked on a collegiate journey with Maguire and rests easy knowing his classmate is between the pipes.
“Any time you get a goaltender who’s kind of hot right there, it kind of allows you to play more aggressively just knowing you have that confidence back there and he’s looked incredible in net, so we’re definitely happy to have him back,” he said.
Head coach David Quinn didn’t shy away from praise either, highlighting the rejuvenated goaltender’s gradual journey back to confidence and composure.
“He’s a guy, he can win big games,” Quinn said. “He’s proven that. We have the utmost confidence in him, and he proved that again tonight. I was so happy for him, he’s come a long way after going through a tough year last year with a concussion”
World Junior Foursome
Less than a week removed from the World Junior Championships in Finland, it’s already clear that Brandon Fortunato, Charlie McAvoy, Brandon Hickey and Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson have benefited from their international experience.
JFK ignited the scoring onslaught with a heads-up play behind the net, Fortunato grabbed an assist on Grzelcyk’s second tally, McAvoy nabbed two helpers of his own and Hickey maintained a solid defensive gap throughout the contest.
That’s just what stands out about their respective nights, though. As anybody close to BU hockey will echo, all four play beyond their years and their importance becomes more tangible as the Terriers round into form.
“Those are four very good players,” Quinn said. “They wouldn’t be playing in that tournament if they weren’t, so they’re gonna get some well-needed rest in the next three or four days. That tournament is a grind, and without them here, we don’t win these games without question”
“We’re talking about three of our defensemen, and our number one centerman,” Quinn said. “They were immense over the last two games.”
When a team wins by five goals, it’s easy to overlook the small details that add up over the course of a hockey game. That’s exactly what can happen with a team’s penalty kill, and the Terriers took care of business in that department on Saturday night.
UMass, which capitalizes on just 17.1 percent of its power plays, was kept off the board when it had a man advantage. To be exact, the Minutemen went 0-for-4 and were limited to only two shots on target across all eight minutes.
Another Slow Start
As mentioned above, BU fell into yet another early hole, letting their opponent grab an early lead that could’ve gotten out of hand if not for some shrewd plays in the offensive zone.
That’s a trend that becomes even more perilous when a top-ranked opponent comes to town or everything is on the line in a playoff scenario. Still, Quinn was pleased with how his team responded in adversity and grabbed ahold of the proceedings when the odds were stacked against them.
“You might get down 1-0,” Quinn said. “But how are you going to respond? You might get down 2-0 and unfortunately that’s happened a lot to us — how are you going to respond? And I like the fact that we do respond that after they did make it 2-2, we made it 3-2 relatively quickly. That’s a good sign for us.”