The Boston University men’s hockey team will open their 2019-20 campaign in a visit to Union College at 4 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 5.
“The guys are ready to play a hockey game,” said head coach Albie O’Connell of his team’s collective excitement to finally get the season underway.
Travelling to Schenectady, New York, the Terriers will have the opportunity to start in front of what is expected to be a sold-out Achilles Center audience. It will be a dramatic change from the quiet practice rinks where BU has spent their preseason.
“[We have to] raise our compete level and just try to get everyone on the same page,” O’Connell said about adjusting to live game action.
While playing a meaningful fixture to open all competitions may be plenty to keep the second-year head coach on edge, the team’s conditioning is not something that O’Connell is worried about.
“The guys did a great job over the summer getting in shape,” according to the BU boss.
These two teams experienced very similar 2018-19 seasons. BU went 12-9-3 in Hockey East play, while Union were 10-10-2 in the ECAC, and both teams required three games to decide their respective conference quarterfinal series. The Dutchmen were bounced by Cornell in that deciding matchup, while BU were able to get past the University of Massachusetts at Lowell.
“We’re going to have to be ready,” O’Connell said in anticipation of what should be a very even matchup.
BU will likely see junior goaltender Darion Hanson between the pipes for Union. The Minnesota native posted a .919 save percentage in 28 games last season, allowing a mere 2.33 goals per game. On the other end, senior Anthony Rinaldi and junior Jack Adams lead the forward group as the only two current skaters who reached double-digit goal totals with Union last season.
The Terriers and Dutchmen have matched up relatively frequently in recent years. Last November, the two teams met in the final of Ireland’s Friendship Four tournament, where the Dutchmen prevailed 2-1 thanks to now-junior forward Parker Foo’s second period tally.
Forward Ty Amonte had provided an early equalizer for BU in that contest, but Amonte will not be on the Terrier bench for this game, or any this season for that matter. On Thursday, Coach O’Connell shared that the junior would miss the year with an upper body injury.
“We have other guys who have to step up,” said the coach about dealing with the long-term absence of Amonte.
Turning the attention to the Terriers that will be making the journey west for Saturday, O’Connell believes that this early away trip will be beneficial towards team bonding early in the season.
“I think any chance you get to go on the road early as a positive,” he said. “You’re on a bus, you’re in a hotel, you’re eating meals together.”
With both the Terriers and Dutchmen aiming to start strong in game one, the puck will be dropped at 4pm on Saturday. Follow the action on the Boston Hockey Blog’s live blog, which can be found through hockey.dailyfreepress.com or @BOSHockeyBlog on Twitter.