Terriers best UMass Lowell 3-0 in playoff series opener

In the opener of a best-of-three Hockey East quarterfinal series on Friday night, the Boston University men’s hockey team skated to a convincing 3-0 win over the University of Massachusetts at Lowell.

“It was one of the better games we’ve played in a while,” BU head coach Albie O’Connell said. “It was good to see, especially at this time of year.”

There was little to separate the two teams in the game’s early stages. BU (15-16-4. 13-9-3 Hockey East) claimed the immediate territorial advantage, putting up three shots on target in the first three minutes.

“It was good to get off to a good start,” said O’Connell, whose Terriers were looking to rebound from a 6-0 thrashing at the hands of the University of Maine in the regular season finale last Saturday.

UMass Lowell (18-12-5, 12-8-5 Hockey East) were able to gain ground as the period wore on, challenging the Terriers with physicality on both ends.

“It’s…the playoffs, so they’re going to be a bit more physical,” said freshman forward Joel Farabee.

The back-and-forth play was mirrored by the nearly identical first period efforts of both goaltenders. BU junior Jake Oettinger comfortably turned aside the seven shots against him, while UML senior Christoffer Hernberg stayed perfect against eight attempts.

Hernberg’s greatest scare came in the final seconds of the frame, when BU junior forward Patrick Curry found space in the slot and ripped one that the keeper fought off with the blocker.

“Our forwards were committed to playing the right way,” said Coach O’Connell of his attacking contingent.

Despite the high energy from both sides, the scoreless deadlock could not be broken through twenty minutes, and the teams retreated to the locker rooms still awaiting the opening tally.

“It was a hard-fought game,” O’Connell said.

After a goalless first period, it did not take long in the second for the game to find a score. It was BU who drew first blood, getting on the board six minutes into the frame.

After a pass from sophomore defenseman Kasper Kotkansalo, fellow blueliner and junior co-captain Dante Fabbro fired away from long range. Drifting inside the left circle, Farabee got just enough of his stick on the shot to beat Hernberg with the redirection.

It was the first collegiate postseason goal for the Philadelphia Flyers prospect, who led the team in both goals (13) and points (31) at the conclusion of the regular season.

According to O’Connell, “the first goal was huge.”

With the 0-0 draw broken, the game began to open up. The Riverhawks peppered Oettinger from up close throughout the second half of the frame, but the Minnesota native could not be beat, racking up 21 saves through forty minutes.

“From the drop of the puck, [Oettinger] was locked in,” said O’Connell.

With the ice tilting towards the Terrier end, BU gained a lifeline through the game’s first penalty with two minutes to play in the middle stanza. It would not take long for the BU power play unit to take full advantage and double their lead.

Soaring into the attacking end, sophomore defenseman David Farrance found a soft spot in the four-man Riverhawk defense and drove straight in on Hernberg. With the keeper committed, Farrance fed classmate and fellow defenseman Cam Crotty at the far post, who buried it easily.

The tally was just the fifth of Crotty’s collegiate career, with three of the five coincidentally coming against UMass Lowell. Farrance’s assist also marked his 20th as a Terrier.

“Farrance can really skate,” Coach O’Connell said. “He can make highlight plays.”

BU trailed in shots on goal 21-17 after forty minutes, but the Terriers had their heads held high, taking a two-goal advantage into the second intermission.

“We had a lot of energy, said O’Connell.

BU carried the momentum through to the final frame, showcasing their impressive penalty kill early in the period by keeping the RiverHawks at bay on their only power play opportunity of the night.

“We just played smart,” Coach O’Connell said.

The Terriers nearly sealed the victory towards the halfway point of the period on a breakaway for sophomore forward Ty Amonte, but Hernberg read the forehand-backhand move. Chances proved to be scarce for BU in the third, but the Terrier defense was solid when called upon.

The RiverHawks poured on pressure in the game’s waning minutes, but could not reach the back of the BU net. With several shots finding bodies in front and sailing wide, Lowell managed only four shots on target in the final frame.

“Our forwards and [defense] did a good job of blocking shots,” said O’Connell.

Surviving a final push from the RiverHawks, the third Terrier goal would come with the clock ticking into the minute to play, and the Lowell net empty.

Securing possession in his own zone, Farabee whipped the puck deep into the RiverHawk end. Patrick Curry won the footrace and slid the loose puck across the line, notching his 12th goal of the season and putting the finishing touches on BU’s impressive win.

The Terriers would finish on top 3-0, taking the upper hand in the series.

“We played hard tonight,” O’Connell said.

Jake Oettinger’s 25 saves were by no means his most heroic as a Terrier, but the performance was still significant for the Dallas Stars draftee. With the flawless night, Oettinger tied the program’s all-time record for total shut-outs (13).

“It feels good,” said Oettinger regarding the win. “The guys did a great job in front of me.”

BU will return to Tsongas Center in search of a series-clinching victory on Saturday night. With the hosts on the brink of elimination, the Terriers know that earning the series sweep will not be easy.

“They’re going to be playing for their lives,” said Farabee.

Game Two is set to begin at 7pm on Saturday, with a potential Game Three scheduled for Sunday if necessary.

16 thoughts on “Terriers best UMass Lowell 3-0 in playoff series opener

  1. I’m happy for the kids they played hard and they played determined to win. The kids played to there strengths. I would have liked more shots but Lowell played well and kept us to the outside quite a bit. Our D moved the puck well tonight and they played physical in front of Jake. What can you say about jake coach said he was locked in I think that’s a understatement he was unbeatable. I thought everyone played well but I was shocked at how well cheramta played. He was buzzing and playing great two way hockey getting that type of game from him was a huge boost. A lot of people come on here and criticize coach but I’m not sure how many people saw the icing Lowell took with a few minutes left there goalie was pulled and just before the icing they were pouring it on. As the ref went to dot both Albie and norm had a stair down. Lowell had tired guys if bu calls timeout they Lowell can rest and keep there time out for a offensive zone face off if lowell calls time out then bu can refocus and settle down and keep there time out to ensure if Lowell did score our guys on the ice would have fresh legs it was a great non call by coach. And it forced coach Bazin to burn his timeout in a spot I’m sure he did not want to use it.🐾

    • You’re exactly right Colin – the team played to their strengths, which we haven’t seen enough of this year. Like you said, Oettinger was superb once again, and Cheremeta impressed with his increased minutes moving up to the third line. Great spot on the timeout situation, I think there was definitely more for UML to gain with the timeout at that time, but you do have a point about them burning the timeout then instead of having it later when they needed it most. Great playing, great coaching – let’s hope for more of the same tonight!

  2. Tremendous performance by our Terriers! Everyone else who won had to do so in OT and we shut ’em out! Kudos to Curry. I used to see him being put in the top-six and thought to myself … there’s a leap of faith. Well now he is totally a top-six guy. As we get closer to being in the Hockey East championship weekend, I can’t help but think of how he played at TD Garden a year ago.

    • Huge performance indeed Glenn, the most dominating of the night anywhere in Hockey East. Can’t say enough about Curry – always brings a relentless motor and has the skill to match it. His high-energy style of play is mixing well with the more technical skillsets of Bowers and Farabee, and the top line seems to be playing their best hockey in a while!

  3. agreed, they did play hard and they were thorough and like Albie said ottenger was locked in from the drop of the puck. obviously it is real tough to end another team’s season, so they are going to have to come out even harder tonight. full throttle.

    • Yes Vinnie, tonight will be more difficult. But if you want to build on Friday’s impressive win, getting a sweep against a team that’s facing elimination on home ice would be just the way to do it. Full throttle is right – We got that last night, and I’m confident we’ll see it again tonight. Expect goals early and often, I’d say.

  4. Glenn your right about curry. He leads by example he never gives up on a play. He plays on the edge but does not go to the box much and he draws a lot of penalties by his tenacious mean play. I say mean as a good thing there is a difference between mean and cheap. Curry plays the game the right way and I’m glad he’s on our team. I just listened to coaches post game comments and I agreed with everything I was talking with friends pre game and I mentioned it in previous threads our offense gets started from our very good D core I’m always singing the praises of Fabro and Krys but as the self proclaimed president of the awesome club thank you FROZEN OUT I must mention Ferrance is there a better puck moving defenseman in hockey east. He is a huge part of the plan for BU to move on. Our other D Blixt kotkansalo and Crotty moved the puck well were beasts played hard and physical. I know the haters will hate this next comment but even if BU lost I would feel this way. There was no one tougher mentally on the ice last night then Fabro he played a ton of minutes played hard and was the target of many Lowell players . The tone was set early that the refs hands would stay down and Lowell knew it so they levied some cheap shots Fabro way . Fabro was solid not taking the bait and provided great D for Jake that’s why he’s among the best D in the country because of the way he plays the game.🐾

    • Perfect analysis of Curry, Colin. I agree that when the defense plays they way they did last night, they can compete with anyone. Farrance last night looked more like midseason Farrance than the Farrance of the last few weeks when he was battling some kind of tweak. As for Fabbro, you could see him really take the reins when Carpenter when down, and he has been a real warrior for this team down the stretch. I think the lack of whistles benefitted BU just because of how well they were playing five-on-five, and their aggressive play up and down the lines.

  5. Dittos on the excellent performance, grit, determination, cohesive play, and (but for one exception) discipline, etc. I would like to note that there was a refreshing, and notable, nuance to our escape plan from D zone pressure; i.e., the high loft to center ice. Whereas a number of players utilized this pressure relief valve last night, I feel safe in assuming that it was stressed by the coaching staff. Big Roy and I have been lamenting its absence in our repertoire since Ahti Oksanen left, and its re-emergence last night had instant and significant impact. We were also impressed by the staggered two-man forecheck, and the disruptive influence it had on Lowell’s D Zone breakout. In conjunction with the aforementioned, there was also an obvious emphasis on putting shots on net. In short, with these strategies I believe that Albie had the team well prepared, and positioned, to more than match up to the Lowell squad. Jake was huge!

    • Much like your analysis here, BU played a very well-rounded game, PS. Great mental factors that we haven’t seen in a while, and a clear improvement in strategy. I agree that the breakouts and forecheck made a major difference for the Terriers, keeping the pressure in the UML zone constantly. Like you added, you can’t forget about the importance of Oettinger! A quieter game compared to what we’re used to, but still rock-solid between the pipes.

  6. Last night we saw smart,determined, physical Hockey and if the boys play like that who knows what can happen and if we look at that game we had some grade a chances either we missed or goalie made the save… I saw stepping up at the blue line didn’t back in great 2 man forcheck seemed to bottle in Lowell and when we did get in some trouble flipped the puck high of glass I was very impressed with all 3 zones… We need same or better effort tonight bc we know Lowell will be playing for it’s season… Go. BU.. BRADY come introduce yourself a bunch of us woukd like to meet u .. We will be in section 114 look for the Jack Parker or Quinn jersey … Go bu

    • I’ll try to come by, Rui! As for your comments, I think we did see the full potential of this team last night. The effort was there across the ice, and because of it, so was the success. Tonight will not be easy, but if they can pull it off, another complete performance from the Terriers would be very encouraging!

  7. Vinnie I’m not sure who will be back but Curry would be a great choice as captain. I saw him this summer and he works as hard as anyone to improve his craft. Plus it’s clear to me how much he loves this team. Go bu🐾

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