BU Midseason Grades: Defensemen

As we are now in the thick of the holiday break, both academically and athletically, the analysis of the Boston University men’s hockey team’s performance from the first half is sure to continue. In my last installment, I graded the team’s goaltending through one semester. This time, I will be taking a look at the defense. All opinions are my own.

After a shaky start, allowing four goals twice and three goals once through the first four games of the season, the Terriers have found their defensive groove in recent weeks. Perhaps the new-found consistency goes hand-in-hand with Sam Tucker finding his game in net, aside from the outliers in a 6-5 defeat at Providence and a 4-0 loss against Sacred Heart.

These lopsided losses and overall inconsistency have resulted in lackluster rankings for the Terrier defense. BU is tied for 36th in team defense across the nation, allowing 2.94 goals per game. Looking at special teams, BU is ranked 41st, working at a 78.57 percent clip on the penalty kill while averaging the 17th-most penalty minutes per game (12.76).

With his team-leading 22 points (10g, 12a), junior David Farrance has been the star of the Terrier d-core this season. His ten goals lead all division one d-men while the 22 points are tied for the fifth-highest total among all skaters. Farrance also shares the lead for the most power-play tallies in college hockey with eight. In his own end, Farrance has been a consistent, stabilizing veteran presence as one of the few defenders to not miss any time with injury, suiting up in all 17 contests.

Rounding out the list of upperclassmen on a very young defensive unit, junior assistant captain Cam Crotty and junior Kasper Kotkansalo have provided solid, shutdown defense to go along with heavy even-strength and short-handed minutes. Crotty holds the third-best plus-minus on the team with a plus-nine rating, and Kotkansalo’s 27 blocks are the most of any Terrier.

Of the four freshmen who have seen significant time – Alex Vlasic, Don Fensore, Case McCarthy, and Sean Driscoll – Fensore is the only first-year with a positive rating, posting a plus-two mark. There have undoubtedly been growing pains for this group as they develop into D-I defensemen, but the struggles are not without some bright spots, especially in the offensive end.

Fensore has been dynamic offensively, quarterbacking the second power play unit with 2-5-7 totals this season. Vlasic and McCarthy are still in search of their first collegiate goals despite logging similar time on ice as Fensore, but with six assists combined, they’ve found other ways to chip in. These freshmen have been particularly influential in the transition game, whether through helping to facilitate the offense in the breakout or booming shots from the point.

Coming out of the NAHL, Driscoll has brought an extra physical presence to the blueline, but is still trying to find his stride, having yet to record a point. Meanwhile, sophomore Hugo Blixt has been used infrequently and freshman John Copeland has only appeared in one game, so these underclassmen may be looking at the upcoming exhibition matchups as an opportunity to suit up and show what they can offer.

Overall grade: C+

While the eye-test in their own end has not always been kind to the Terriers, the offensive output is there, especially from Farrance and Fensore. The simultaneous improvement of BU’s overall defensive play and goaltending are certainly no coincidence; however, the second half brings many questions. Can BU’s defensive efforts stay on the upswing? Can the freshmen blueliners continue their development? Can Farrance keep up his torrid pace? Only time will tell.

For more, be sure to check out Part One and Part Two of Brady Gardner’s in-depth analysis of each player.

7 thoughts on “BU Midseason Grades: Defensemen”

  1. Why write an article that says midseason grades if you are only going to put plus/minus and point stats for each player? I was looking for some analysis on younger DMen and it included “still looking for first goal”. Not too in depth

  2. That was a pretty fair assessment of the D, Patrick

    I am concerned about Blixt. He was one of Quinn’s high end recruits. Don’t think this current staff regards him highly

  3. I think highly of this group. We have the best defenseman in the country and a Hobey Baker candidate in Farrence. We have the best skating smooth handed D in Fensore . Vlasic continues to play solid minutes Crotty will continue to improve as he becomes more healthy. McCarthy comes under a lot of criticism but he’s a freshman who has definitely shown signs of being a good D 1 defenseman. Tucker is solid between the pipes I like where we are at in our development. I’m looking forward to second half. 🐾

  4. ” the best defenseman in the country ” seriously??? compare these guys with ones on the 2009 team. that 2009 group was the best in the country and any current group needs to compared to them. NOT EVEN CLOSE

  5. Farrence is without doubt one of the best defenseman in college hockey his play and his production proves this. He’s a workhorse on the ice and as much as I speak of his offensive capabilities he’s just as good defensively. Obviously 2009 was a good team but we are not in 2009 nine we are in 2019-20 the game has changed I’m analyzing this D on what I have seen first half. In my assessment we are ok with this D in fact we are more then ok with this D. I won’t let your negativity get me down vinnie I have high hopes for this team second half. Go bu 🐾

  6. Ok Colin. Not trying to dull your optimism. I totally agree with you when you say I am ok with this D. Me too. Just not the best in the country in my humble opinion

    Go BU
    Onwards

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