It won’t be easy to turn the page after a heartbreaking double-overtime loss in the Beanpot Final, but the Boston University men’s hockey team will have to do it ahead of a critical Hockey East home-and-home series this weekend against the University of New Hampshire.
BU head coach Albie O’Connell said this week of practice has been all about putting Monday’s defeat in the rear-view mirror.
“We’re just looking to rebound,” O’Connell said. “Guys just have to get beyond what transpired and get ready to play back in the regular season.”
The Terriers (10-9-8, 7-5-5 Hockey East) were unbeaten in four games before falling twice within the last week, first losing 5-1 to Merrimack College in Hockey East play on Friday and then dropping the Beanpot Final to Northeastern 5-4. The Wildcats (15-11-2, 9-8-1 Hockey East) have a two-game win streak, albeit both wins have come from a series against the University of Vermont, which remains winless in conference competition this season.
BU beat UNH 3-0 back in October, but the second-year head coach said the Wildcats could present some challenges the second time around.
“They’ve played good hockey this year,” O’Connell said. “They’ve got a good offensive team, they play well defensively, they’re good on the forecheck.”
The Terriers and Wildcats are currently tied for fifth in the jam-packed Hockey East standings, with nine teams within seven points of each other. In the middle of that group, BU and UNH both have 19 points, just five away from the conference leaders, the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
O’Connell said the race for the regular-season title might just be the most difficult trophy to acquire all season.
“To be honest with you,” O’Connell said, “it’s harder to win the regular season [title] than the postseason [title].”
With the Terriers as healthy as they have been all season, the only major question mark in terms of who will be on the ice is the goaltender position. After a red-hot start at BU, freshman goaltender Ashton Abel allowed nine goals in four and a half periods last week, allowing graduate goaltender Sam Tucker to make an impression in the late stages of the Beanpot Final.
With the battle for the crease as open as ever, O’Connell said on Thursday afternoon that he still hasn’t decided who will go in net for BU this weekend.
“I think both guys have played good hockey for us,” O’Connell said. “I don’t exactly know what we’re going do but we feel pretty comfortable with either goalie.”
Friday’s game at Durham’s Whittemore Center is at 7 p.m., and the series will shift to Boston for another 7 p.m. puck drop at Agganis Arena on Saturday.