The Boston University men’s hockey team (1-1-0) will take on the University of Massachusetts Amherst (9-3-1) this Friday and Saturday at 4:30 PM and 5:30 PM, respectively. The Minutemen currently sit on top of the Hockey East standings with 28 points from 13 games, compared to the Terrier’s three points from two games.
“I think we’re gonna have to have our best to beat them. They’re pretty seasoned, and they play really competitive in all three zones,” head coach Albie O’Connell said.
Coming off of a 7 game win streak, the Minutemen are looking to improve their already high win percentage (.731) by picking up six points this weekend. Junior forward Bobby Trivigno leads UMass in points with 18 from five goals and 13 assists, followed by sophomore defensemen Matthew Kessel with 14, (8g 6a) and Zac Jones with 13 (5g 8a).
Another player to watch is St. Lawrence transfer Carson Gicewicz, who had impressive stats while at SLU and is already adding to the Minutemen lineup with 12 points from eight goals and four assists.
In net for the Minutemen will likely be senior Matt Murray, who is second only to Boston College’s Spencer Knight in the Hockey East standings. Murray’s 1.64 goals against average and .928 save percentage may prove difficult for the Terriers who have struggled to get shots on net in their first two games against Providence.
Coming off of a split series with Providence College, the Terriers will have to prepare to take on a more experienced team. As with most games this season, the Terriers are entering the series having played fewer games than their competitors.
“We’re gonna have moments where they’ve played more and hopefully we’ve played more than other teams at some point, but it’s gonna be like that all year,” O’Connell said. “We don’t see it as an advantage or disadvantage, we’re just excited to play.”
In the Providence series, the Terriers came off strong offensively, scoring nine goals for a 4.5 goals per game average, but struggled to stay out of the box with 15 penalties between the two games. On the other end of the spectrum, the Terriers are leading Hockey East in power play conversion with three PPG on eight opportunities (.375) compared to UMass’ 17 goals on 62 opportunities (.274), making this weekend’s competition a battle of special teams.
“Their special teams this year are lightyears, especially the powerplay, better than what they were last year… We’re gonna have to stay out of the box, and I don’t think we have to play a perfect game, but we have to come ready to have a perfect level of compete,” O’Connell said.
Picking up right where he left off, senior defensemen and Hobey Baker finalist David Farrance leads the Terriers in points with five (1g 4a), followed by former Friar Jay O’Brien with three (2g 1a), and senior captain Logan Cockerill with two goals for two points.
Freshman netminder Drew Commesso had a busy collegiate debut against the Friars and will likely face that same momentum from the Minutemen. Although head coach Albie O’Connell has said Comesso “hasn’t secured the spot completely,” after stopping 70 of 79 shots over the weekend, it’s likely that he’ll start in net for BU.
“I thought Drew, as the weekend progressed, settled in, and the third period against Providence was his best period. He looked the most comfortable and to get a win, that gives you a bit of confidence too, to get one out of the way,” O’Connell told the media.
The last time the two teams met BU won on home ice 4-3 but dropped the second game 4-1 in Amherst.
Puck drop is set for 3:30 PM Sunday 1/17, and 3 PM Monday 1/18 with coverage available on SportsLive (link to come) and on Twitter @BOSHockeyBlog.