In a homestand against Vermont and Sacred Heart, the Boston University men’s hockey team went 1-1-1, with the results worsening by the game. To unpack all the action, here’s my weekly column. All opinions are my own.
The 2019-20 Terriers have hit a new low
In the UVM series, BU took care of game one 3-0 and had enough chances to deserve the win in Saturday’s 3-3 tie. Okay, fine. But I’ve been saying for a few weeks now that the Terriers had yet to put up a complete dud, which seemed pretty impressive for such a young team, especially considering they were going up against the likes of Providence and UMass. Well, the dud finally came, and it was an ugly one. A 4-0 defeat to Sacred Heart was the worst loss at home since falling 5-0 to Providence 13 months ago.
Three points against UVM was good, not great
That Vermont series feels like forever ago to me, but I want to start there. Yes, BU could have swept the series, and they would have if not for one late breakdown in game two. I also think Trevor Zegras could have helped them prevail in that game, especially with his presence on the power play. Overall, I was content with the 1-0-1 weekend because I predicted that BU would have one slip-up through the three-game homestand, and I thought Saturday’s tie was it. I wasn’t expecting what would happen next.
O’Connell: “It was about as bad as it’s been since I’ve been here”
This quote from Albie O’Connell after Tuesday’s 4-0 loss to Sacred Heart sums it all up, and this was the same sentiment I heard from fans among the 1,826 patrons who attended that game. That loss was bad in every way. SHU outworked BU for 60 minutes, and when the puck wouldn’t go in early, the Terriers. ran out of ideas. Patrick Curry said his team may have overlooked their opponent, and the next time Sacred Heart shows up on the schedule., I’d guess BU will have a different mentality.
Ups and downs for the defense
This BU defense is still impossible to read. One night, they’re shutting out their opposition on one end and contributing points on the other. The next night, they’re turning it over in their own zone, exposing Sam Tucker to constant point-blank looks, and allowing attackers to knock in their own rebounds. The flashes of offensive brilliance and disruptive defending demonstrate what this defense is capable of, but inconsistency overshadows everything. A BU turnaround will have to stem from the defense.
What will BU’s response be?
A meeting with the undefeated Cornell Big Red in one of America’s most iconic sports venues on Thanksgiving weekend doesn’t exactly sound like the ideal circumstances for a bounce-back game. Well, this is the problem the Terriers created for themselves by struggling against Sacred Heart. Patrick Curry said it himself; the best way to put the SHU loss in the past is to win the next one. So, will BU put up a fight against the nation’s No. 2 team, or will they look as lifeless as they did for much of Tuesday night?
How will the BU crowd be in NYC?
This trip is exciting for me because I’ve never been to Red Hot Hockey before. That also means that I have no idea what to expect. I’ve seen the turnouts at the TD Garden for the Beanpot and Hockey East tournament, but I have to imagine that the crowd at Madison Square Garden will be more alumni than current students. So, with the team traveling south with a sub-.500 record fresh off a downright embarrassing loss to Sacred Heart, how will they be greeted by the BU Faithful in the Big Apple?
Can BU make strides against ECAC powerhouses?
With all the excitement surrounding Red Hot Hockey on Saturday, it’s easy to forget that three days later, BU will face No. 6/9 Harvard in another Tuesday night clash back at Agganis Arena. Aside from the Crimson being a Boston team that the Terriers faced (and lost to 5-2) in the Beanpot consolation game last February, Harvard also presents another undefeated ECAC opponent for BU. It would be crazy to ask for two wins this week, but it would be nice to at least see some improvements to build on.
The Terriers will square off against No. 2 Cornell at Madison Square Garden on Saturday at 8 p.m. before returning home to host No. 6/9 Harvard on Tuesday at 7 p.m.