Terriers facing early test in weekend series with Providence

Patrick Curry prepares for a faceoff against UNH on October 26. Photo by Jenna Vansickle.

This weekend, the Boston University men’s hockey team will take on the No. 11 Providence Friars in a home-and-home set.

The first days of November were not kind to either team. Both teams finished last weekend with a tie and a loss, with the Terriers (2-2-3, 1-1-2 Hockey East) taking their lone point from a two-game series at Maine and Providence (4-3-1, 2-2-0 Hockey East) going winless in matchups with Colgate and Boston College.

While recent struggles have slowed the Friars, Providence has come out of the gates as of one the strongest teams in the conference through the early weeks of the 2019-20 season. Among all Hockey East competitors, they lead in goals for (32) and have allowed the second fewest goals against (16). They also boast three of the league’s top seven scorers: the most of any team.

Leading the explosive offense in PC black and white is sophomore forward Jack Dugan, who has posted the most points in Hockey East with 18 through eight games. Among the goal scorers, sophomore forward Tyce Thompson and junior forward Greg Printz share the conference lead with seven tallies apiece. Printz scored four in Providence’s season-opening 7-0 beating of Maine.

On the defensive end, senior defenseman Spenser Young has accumulated Hockey East’s most blocks with 17. Providing an offensive spark, sophomore defenseman Michael Callahan has provided six assists, tied for second-most among his position group. Graduate goaltender Michael Lackey has been rock-solid with a save percentage of .936, conceding 1.96 goals per game.

Matching up against the talented Friars, BU will look to regain their form, which could coincide with regaining their health. Senior forward Patrick Harper has a share of BU’s most assists (5) and points (9), but was unavailable against Maine last weekend. Junior defenseman Cam Crotty was also sidelined for the majority of the series, leaving the Terriers with just two upperclassmen left on the blue line. From what has been reported, both assistant captains are considered to be day-to-day.

Without the offensive production of Harper and the defensive stability of Crotty, BU has relied on other contributors to step up. Sophomore forward Matt Quercia and junior defenseman David Farrance are tied for third among the Terriers with three goals each, while in the back, first-year d-men Case McCarthy and Domenick Fensore lead BU with 11 and ten blocks respectively. Graduate netminder Sam Tucker has also impressed as of late, keeping the Terriers close in their contests with the Black Bears.

If history serves as an accurate model of what this weekend will hold, we’re in for a tight series. Last year, the Terriers went 1-1-1 against PC, dropping their regular season home opener to the Friars 5-0 before returning the favor with a 4-3 win in Providence in January. In their most recent fixture, the sides drew 1-1, making the Terriers undefeated for the season at Schneider Arena.

This conference doubleheader will hold significance for both teams, currently sitting tied for fourth in Hockey East with four points in four games. There will also be a special incentive for the unranked Terriers to overcome the favored Friars, with Providence proving to be a mainstay among the national polls thus far this season.

Puck drop for game one at Agganis Arena will be on Friday at 7:30pm as part as a full day of hockey on Commonwealth Avenue with the First Responders Faceoff between Boston Police and Boston Fire taking place at 4:30pm. The rematch is slated to begin at 7pm on Saturday in Providence’s Schneider Arena.

Don’t miss the Boston Hockey Blog’s live coverage of both games, which can be found at hockey.dailyfreepress.com or @BOShockeyblog on Twitter.

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