By Mark Fraenkel
Currently on a four-game losing streak, the Boston University men’s hockey team (20-10-0, 14-6-0 Hockey East) will seek to correct course in the penultimate series of the regular season against the University of Vermont Catamounts (9-16-5, 4-13-3 HE).
“We’re obviously struggling a little bit here,” head coach Jay Pandolfo said in his midweek media availability. “But you know, we can’t feel sorry for ourselves, we have to find a way out of this. We went back to work this week in practice, try to, you know, shore up some things. Get better in all areas of our game.”
The Terriers enter the weekend after losing five out of six points to the Merrimack College Warriors (18-12-1, 13-8-0 HE). BU lost 4-1 in North Andover before losing in heartbreaking fashion in overtime on Saturday night at Agganis Arena.
Junior goaltender Drew Commesso was pulled during the game on Saturday night and replaced by Vinny Duplessis. However, Pandolfo said that he expects the Norwell, Massachusetts native to be back in front of the net in Burlington.
“Drew’s gonna be back on the net Friday night, and then we’ll go from there,” Pandolfo said.
With regards to Jamie Armstrong, the senior forward could return to the lineup for the first time since BU beat the Boston College Eagles (12-12-5, 7-8-5 HE) at Conte Forum on Jan. 28.
“Armstrong is a possibility for this weekend,” Pandolfo said “He has been limited in practice up to this point. I expect him to practice fully tomorrow, and then we’ll go from there. But I’m hopeful that he’ll play at least one of the games.”
Todd Woodcroft’s UVM team enters the weekend after getting shut out by the Northeastern Huskies (15-10-5, 12-5-3 HE) last weekend.
Junior goaltender Gabe Carriere made 22 saves in the loss to the insurgent Huskies.
Pandolfo said he’s not too concerned about who the opponent is this weekend. His team needs to return to the style of play that worked earlier in the season.
“I don’t really want to focus too much on anything else other than our team and getting back to the way we’re capable of playing,” Pandolfo said. “I think that has to be our main focus rather than really worrying about our opponent (…) we have to find a way to get back to playing with confidence.”
Vermont is currently in last place in Hockey East with 15 points. They trail the University of Massachusetts Minutemen (10-15-5, 4-13-3 HE) by four points. Despite the recent struggles, the Terriers are in second place with 42 points.
BU will look for a spark this weekend to reenergize the group before playoffs and return to the win column. Pandolfo shuffled the top three lines last Saturday against Merrimack, and said he’s been working on new combinations this week too.
“You’ll probably see new lines again this weekend,” Pandolfo said. “I think the Kaplan, Skoog, Brown line will be back together. But after that, it’ll probably be a little bit of a shuffle.”
The puck will drop at 7:00pm on Friday and 7:30pm on Saturday in Burlington, VT. The Boston Hockey Blog will have full, on-the-ground coverage so be sure to follow along on Instagram @boston.hockey.blog and Twitter @BOShockeyblog.