By Mark Fraenkel
After falling to the No. 13 Michigan Tech Huskies (14-6-3, 7-4-3 CCHA) in the championship game of the Desert Hockey Classic, the No. 7 Boston University men’s hockey team (13-6-0, 8-4-0 HE) is set to host the No. 19 University of Massachusetts Minutemen (9-8-3, 3-6-1 HE) at Agganis Arena on Wednesday night at 7:00pm.
BU enters the midweek showdown following a split-weekend in the Grand Canyon State. The Terriers defeated the Air Force Falcons (6-12-2, 2-7-1 Atlantic Hockey) 5-1 on Friday before falling to the Michigan Tech 3-2 on Saturday.
“Coming back from a West Coast trip the biggest thing is, you know, finding your legs,” head coach Jay Pandolfo said during his midweek media availability. “So we’ve got to make sure we’re keeping it simple early in that game, until we find our legs. Because sometimes it’s not easy and these guys haven’t experienced that too often, flying from the West Coast and then you know, playing two days later. It can be a little bit of a challenge” he added.
Senior Jamie Armstrong scored the first goal early in the first period on Friday against Air Force, but the forward would miss the game against Michigan Tech the next night due to injury and will not play in Wednesday’s game.
“He’ll be out,” Pandolfo said of Armstrong. “He has not been back on the ice yet. I’m hopeful for Saturday, but he has not been cleared to skate yet… could be a long shot as well. I thought we certainly missed him on Saturday. He’s been very good this year.”
UMass returns to Boston after falling to the No. 20 Boston College Eagles (8-6-4, 5-3-3 HE) 4-2 at Fenway Park on Saturday. Freshman forward Michael Cameron and sophomore defenseman Ryan Ufko scored the goals for the Minutemen in the loss to Greg Brown’s team. Sophomore goaltender Luke Pavichich made 33 saves and allowed three goals in the defeat.
BU took both of the games in the home-and-home series back in November. Powered by two goals from freshman forward Ryan Greene, the Terriers won the Friday game 7-2 in Amherst, before Greene opened up the scoring en route to a 5-1 BU win the next night.
However, Pandolfo isn’t concerned about his team being overly confident heading into the third matchup with Greg Carvel’s team this season.
“I think our guys understand that we didn’t play very well over the weekend out in Arizona,” the first year head coach said.
Wednesday is BU’s first chance to pick up Hockey East points since their 3-2 win over the No. 11 University of Connecticut Huskies (13-6-3, 8-5-3 HE) on December 11 in Hartford. The Terriers currently sit in fourth place tied with the No. 14 Providence College Friars (11-5-6, 6-2-5 HE) with 23 points. The third seeded Northeastern Huskies (9-9-3, 7-4-2 HE) have 25 points. BC is in sixth place with 19 points. The Minutemen currently hold eighth place with 11 points.
After Wednesday’s game, BU will return to action when they host the No. 15 Cornell Big Red (10-5-1, 7-3-0 ECAC) on Saturday at 4 PM. Follow along on Twitter @BosHockeyBlog and on Instagram @Boston.Hockey.Blog for continued coverage over the break.