The Boston University men’s hockey team (3-3-0, 2-2-0 Hockey East) has a home-and-home series against UMass Lowell (2-1-1) this weekend. The River Hawks eliminated BU from the Hockey East Tournament quarterfinals last March in a 2-1 win and continued to the championship game from there.
Lowell has yet to play a Hockey East team this season, starting their 2021-2022 campaign with series against Arizona State and Michigan State. They’ve garnered a win from each weekend, but it’ll be interesting to see how the River Hawks can compete in their own league.
Freshman forward Matt Crasa has gotten off to a productive start in his rookie year, leading Lowell with five points (3g, 2a) in their first four games. Junior forward Brian Chambers––who scored the game-winning-goal to end the Terrier’s run in the quarterfinals––is also an offensive leader for his squad. He’s got one goal and two assists coming into Friday’s competition.
“They just play a strong solid game and they’ve got obviously some weapons,” head coach Albie O’Connell said in today’s media availability. “Not a team that’s gonna beat themselves, so we’re gonna have to play some good games to try to beat them.”
The River Hawks have averaged 3.3 goals-per-game to BU’s 3.2, but have also relied on their strong defensive core throughout the 60 minutes. Sophomore defenseman Brehdan Engum was this week’s Hockey East defender of the week after a big game-tying goal at the end of the third in last Friday’s matchup against Michigan State.
Senior goaltender Owen Savory and sophomore goaltender Henry Welsch have each been between the pipes for two games, splitting the two series Lowell has had. Savory tops Welsch in the stats department with a 1.92 GAA and .907 save percentage, so we’ll see who gets the nod at Agganis tomorrow.
There’s a familiar face on the opponent’s roster for Lowell––junior forward Matt Brown spent his freshman and sophomore seasons with the River Hawks before transferring to BU this summer. Brown collected a total of 13 points (8g, 5a) in last year’s shortened season and has been a big part of the Terrier group since getting to Comm Ave.
Brown got hurt in Friday’s game against Merrimack College, and sat out of Saturday’s 8-6 win. O’Connell said the forward had been skating in practice for the past two days with the team and he hopes Brown will be in the lineup come puck drop.
The Terriers are coming off of a wonky weekend with the Warriors––the two groups combined for 19 goals in two days and each spent a generous amount of time in the penalty box as well. BU was on the penalty kill seven times in Saturday’s game, and O’Connell said they’ll need to get back to competitive discipline against Lowell.
BU had six different players get on the score sheet on Saturday, no doubt giving their lineup a boost of confidence in their offensive capabilities. They evidently threw a lot more rubber on net in the second game of the series and will hopefully carry this sentiment with them through the rest of the season.
“Anytime some guys put the puck in the net there’s some confidence. You score eight goals, some guys felt pretty good, they looked pretty good this week,” O’Connell said. “I think the simplicity of shooting the puck at times gets lost with our guys and they made a big step on Saturday night.”
The Terriers have lacked consistency this season, always having one-off games and then response wins. The scarlet and white have a big opportunity here to change the narrative and get something tangible going. They need to start building on good hockey instead of reverting to the individualistic play seen earlier this year.
BU has the tools and talent to be great, they just need to weave it all together for more than one night. O’Connell knows this and pointed to a few specific positives he’s taken from his squad three weeks in.
“I like the competitive spirit of the group,” he said. “I know we can skate, and when we’re playing a vertical game––a little bit more north-south than east-west––and we put pucks in behind teams, we can use our speed and our pressure.”
The Terriers will host the River Hawks Friday at Agganis Arena where they’ll honor the life and legacy of Travis Roy before the 7:30p.m. faceoff. BU will then take the short drive to Lowell, MA for a 6:05p.m. start at Tsongas Center. Per usual, follow along on twitter @BOShockeyblog for live in-game updates.