Approaching their second to last regular season game, the Boston University men’s hockey team is looking to continue their four-game unbeaten streak after tying Providence 1-1 on Thursday night.
On Saturday, the Terriers (13-15-4, 11-8-3 Hockey East) will face the Merrimack Warriors (7-23-3, 4-17-2 Hockey East) at 7pm in Agganis Arena. Currently sitting at fifth in the Hockey East conference, there is reason to believe BU should win against last-seeded Merrimack.
The Terriers were hungry for a win against Providence, who currently sit two spots above the Terriers in the Hockey East conference at second. With just two extra points under their belt, BU would have improved their case for a playoff game on home ice.
“They [knew] the importance of the points tonight,” BU head coach Albie O’Connell said referring to his players.
Once again, Boston University’s goaltender, junior Jake Oettinger, came out and had an unbelievable performance on the ice. The Terriers would have been looking at a whole lot different of a score at the end of game if it were not for Oettinger’s 45 saves.
“Our goaltender was the story,” said O’Connell.
As the game played on, BU started to lose the tenacity that they were playing with for the early stages of the game. This led to Providence finally getting the puck behind Oettinger in the 8th minute of the 3rd period. The Terrier’s response to this goal was not as strong as they would have liked to see.
“At the end of the game we gave up a 3 on 1 with 30 seconds to go in overtime,” said O’Connell as he reflects on how close the tie was to becoming a loss.
Now approaching Merrimack, BU has to play with the same force that they did when they came out against Providence. BU has already faced Merrimack twice this season; once back in October when the Terriers lost 4-0 on the road, and then again in January when BU bounced back at Agganis Arena and won 7-2. Although the Warriors have struggled in the Hockey East conference, they are not low on talent, and are definitely not a team that BU can overlook.
One of Merrimack’s strengths is their depth when it comes to goalkeepers. Although it appears that senior Craig Pantano will start in between the pipes for Merrimack, but if necessary, the Warriors will have no problem throwing in their other two goalies: senior Drew Vogler and sophomore Logan Halladay. Both Vogler and Halladay have logged a sufficient amount of minutes for Merrimack.
Supporting Pantano in the back is junior standout Ryan Cook. Cook has an impressive number of 37 blocks for Merrimack this season. Although he is a very strong player, BU mostly has to worry about him on the defensive end. Cook has tallied no goals for the Warriors this season so far. Freshman Chase Gresock makes up for it though with 11 goals and 13 assists to his name in the 2018/19 season. Gresock got on the board during BU and Merrimack’s last battle back in January, which resulted in a 7-2 Terrier victory.
In addition, Merrimack just put up a very impressive fight on Thursday against league leading UMass. The score ended 4-2 UMass, but the Minutemen were only comfortable once standout defenseman Cale Makar tucked away an empty-netter.
There are many more games to be played in the regular season before the Hockey East tournament. Currently, BU still sits 5th in the conference. However, the Terriers could come level with Northeastern if the Huskies lose to Boston College tonight or tomorrow. Likewise, BU could come level with UMass Lowell if the Riverhawks fall to New Hampshire tonight or tomorrow. If the seedings stand, BU will be traveling to Northeastern for the first round of the tournament.
Before we start focusing on the Hockey East, BU has to focus on tomorrow and shutting down Merrimack. You can follow the game through our live blog as well as on Twitter. You can also listen to the game through GoTerriers.com.