Written by James Garrison
The Boston University Men’s Hockey Team (4-7-1, 3-4-1 Hockey East) is set to face-off against their crosstown rivals, No. 18 Northeastern University (8-4-0, 4-3-0 Hockey East) this Friday and Saturday night. This is the first meeting between the two clubs since March 7th, 2020.
The Huskies will come into Agganis Arena Friday night riding a six game undefeated in regulation streak with games against Maine, UNH, Harvard, and UMass Lowell. The Huskies are currently sitting in third place in Hockey East, tied with Providence College.
After a four game slide where they were swept in back to back weekends, the Terriers had a strong showing against a top-ranked UMass Amherst team – they will look to build on that this weekend. With a win and a tie against a top-ten ranked team nationally, the Terriers showed that they can play top-level hockey when they have to.
The Terriers continue their difficult schedule this weekend against another strong team in Northeastern. The stretch includes games against UMass, Northeastern, Cornell, and Boston College.
“Every game is a challenge,” Head Coach Albie O’Connell said when asked about this period in the season for the Terriers. “We’ve faced some good foes…we’re not worried about the opponent.”
Last weekend, junior forward Jay O’Brien’s return sparked the Terriers and gave them a new sense of energy. O’Brien had two goals and one assist for three points last weekend.
As lines begin to get more chemistry, along with more players returning from injury, the lineup will begin to solidify itself. With the Terrier’s finding their groove offensively, more returning personnel should continue to propel them in the right direction.
After about a month and a half into the season, junior forwards Robert Mastrosimone and Wilmer Skoog continued to be the Terriers’ leading scorers, with junior defenseman Domenick Fensore and sophomore forward Dylan Peterson following closely behind.
After a couple of weeks of constantly shifting line combinations, it seems as though the Terriers have been able to find some consistency, especially with their top six. With his return last weekend, O’Brien filled in on the first line, joining Skoog and Mastrosimone. The Peterson-Armstrong-Zabaneh line has also been very strong for the Terriers.
“I think Skoog and Mastro have had different wings. I thought the best they’d looked was with O’Brien there. They were pretty dangerous, pretty deadly,” O’Connell said. “One of our best lines through a stretch was Zabs, Peterson, and Armstrong. I think they’ve had a pretty good run as a line.”
Northeastern is led up front by junior forward Aidan McDonough, who is currently fourth in Hockey East for goals, with five in seven games. Freshman forward Justin Hryckowian and senior defenseman Jordan Harris follow McDonough, both with nine points in eleven and twelve games, respectively.
Devon Levi, who has proven himself to be a top goaltender in Hockey East, is third in both save percentage and goals-against-average. With a 0.929 save percentage and a 2.14 goals against average, Levi has helped the Huskies only surrender six goals in their six game streak.
Northeastern also boasts a strong core of underclassmen as well. Other than Levi and Hryckowian, Ryan St. Louis, Sam Colangelo, Jack Hughes, and Gunnarwolfe Fontaine all headline Northeastern’s youth movement.
Last weekend the Terriers did a better job of staying out of the box, which will be crucial this weekend going up against Northeastern, a very strong group when it comes to special teams, especially their penalty kill.
“Overall, gonna try and keep it simple,” O’Connell said when asked about how the Terriers would handle going up against Northeastern’s strong penalty kill. “I think it’s important to see if we can get pucks down and get some traffic on [Levi]” he added.
This weekend will serve as another tough test for the Terriers who showed last weekend that they are capable of playing top-level hockey and being a top team in Hockey East. It will take another complete 120+ minute effort this weekend against a strong opponent in Northeastern.
The puck will be dropped at 7:30 p.m. on Friday night at Agganis Arena and then again, just over two miles away at Matthews Arena for a 7:00 p.m. puck drop Saturday night with coverage both nights on Twitter @BOSHockeyBlog and on Instagram @Boston.Hockey.Blog.