Entering the final two games of the 2019-20 regular season, the Boston University men’s ice hockey team faces a home-and-home series against No. 16 Northeastern University this weekend.
After a losing 4-1 to Boston College last Saturday, the Terriers (12-12-8, 9-8-5 Hockey East) will meet their other crosstown rival in the Huskies (17-12-3, 10-11-1 Hockey East), who have dropped down to the eighth spot in the conference standings.
BU has all but locked in its spot for the Hockey East tournament, unless the team loses both games this weekend and the University of New Hampshire wins both of its games against No. 4 BC (23-8-1, 16-6-0 Hockey East).
The Terriers have a 1-1 record against the Huskies this season, beating them on Dec. 7, 6-3, then losing 5-4 in double-overtime in the Beanpot championship game on Feb. 10.
Neither team has been particularly impressive as of late, with BU dropping three consecutive contests and Northeastern falling in four. Going into the final weekend, the Huskies are only one point away from dropping out of the playoff picture.
BU head coach Albie O’Connell thinks the Terriers’ best bet is to keep a short memory and put all of their focus on this weekend’s series.
“We just want to play a good game and get points,” O’Connell said. “We’ve just got to move forward and play well.”
As for the personnel out on the ice, junior forward Zach Solow leads the Huskies on the attack. Solow is second in points behind sophomore forward Tyler Madden, who is Northeastern’s leading scorer with 19 goals and 18 assists.
Madden may be unavailable this weekend as he is nursing an extended injury, which could put Solow in the leading offensive role. He is currently second highest-scorer on the team with 13 goals and 17 assists.
O’Connell said he knows Northeastern’s offense is dangerous, especially on the power play.
“Offensively, they can put you in some spots,” O’Connell said. “The one thing is you’ve got to stay out of the penalty box. They’ve had a good power play over the years.”
On defense for Northeastern, graduate goaltender Craig Pantano is expected to start in net. Pantano, owning a goal save percentage of .913, will look for support from senior defenseman and captain Ryan Shea, sophomore defenseman Jordan Harris and freshman defenseman Mike Kesselring.
Regardless of injuries or recent form, O’Connell said at this time of year everyone is doing everything they can to make a late push.
“Everyone’s scraping for points, everyone’s trying to jockey for position,” O’Connell said. “Our focus is to play well and try to win.”
For more on this weekend’s Hockey East playoff race and how it could potentially play out, be sure to read Brady Gardner’s Hockey Blog article.
Puck drop in Friday’s series opener is 7 p.m. at Matthews Arena before Agganis Arena hosts the regular season finale at 7 p.m. on Friday. Live coverage can be followed on the Boston Hockey Blog and on Twitter, @BOShockeyblog.