Game Previews, Off-Ice News

Ranking the five most important BU men’s hockey games of 2023-24

Photo by Caroline Fernandez.

Fresh off a run to the 2023 Frozen Four, the Boston University men’s hockey team is brimming with talent, confidence and experience. 

The Terriers have soaring expectations this season, and they won’t have to wait long to face off against some of the nation’s best. This year’s schedule features big games from start to finish. Here are the five biggest. 

No. 5: Oct. 20-21 @ Notre Dame

Following standalone games against Bentley and New Hampshire to kick off the season, the Terriers will face their first true test of the season against the Fighting Irish — a former Hockey East rival — in South Bend, Ind. 

Like last year’s early-season series on the road against Michigan, this two-game set will be a litmus test for BU against a quality Big Ten opponent. The series completes a home-and-home with Notre Dame, after the Irish traveled to Boston for a midweek battle at Agganis Arena last November. The Terriers won that game, 5-2. 

Notre Dame posted a 16-16-5 record last season and narrowly missed the cut for a berth in the NCAA Tournament — finishing three spots short of an at-large bid in the NCAA’s RPI system to determine tournament seeding, PairWise. 

No. 4: Nov 3-4 vs. North Dakota

This clash of college hockey titans will be the first of BU’s marquee matchups on home ice. 

The Fighting Hawks missed the NCAA Tournament in what was a disappointing season by their lofty standards, but they return top scorer Riece Gaber and will see seven impressive freshmen enter the fold. Three of those seven —  Michael Emerson, Jake Livanavage and Jayden Perron — played with BU superstar freshman Macklin Celebrini on the USHL’s Chicago Steel. 

The matchup marks the first time the Terriers have faced a NCHC opponent in the regular season since 2017. It will also be BU’s first games against North Dakota since the Terriers took down the Fighting Hawks in the first round of the 2018 NCAA Regionals in Fargo, N.D. 

No. 3: Nov. 25 vs. Cornell

BU should know exactly what to expect when it faces off against Cornell in New York City for the ninth edition of Red Hot Hockey at Madison Square Garden. The game will mark the fourth time the two teams have played in the last two years, including BU’s 2-1 win in the Manchester Regional Final last season.

Plus, exposure to NHL ice early in the season will only help this young BU squad. We saw last year’s freshmen struggle to settle in at TD Garden during the 2023 Beanpot, and then thrive at the same venue a month later in the Hockey East Tournament. 

A trip to the World’s Most Famous Arena could help key freshmen like Celebrini and Willander acclimate to big-time college hockey before the high-leverage games of spring. 

No. 2: Nov. 22 vs. Quinnipiac 

This one goes without much explanation. The lights will be bright at Agganis Arena when the Bobcats, the reigning national champions, ship up to Boston for a midweek showdown. The Dog Pound may be thinner than usual with the University on Thanksgiving Break, but expect a healthy crowd to make it out to Agganis for this high-powered non-conference battle. 

Per BU Hockey Stats, the matchup will be just the second time the Terriers have played the defending national champion in a non conference game since BU played Union College in 2015. It will also be the only non conference game between teams that made the Frozen Four last year. 

This will be the Terriers’ biggest game of the fall semester, and it will be an opportunity to make some noise nationally before the semester break. 

No. 1: Jan. 26-27 vs. Boston College

The Boston College series would make this list every year, but this season’s rendition of the Battle of Comm. Ave showcases an injection of star power the rivalry hasn’t seen in years. 

Neutral Zone ranked BC’s recruiting class as the best in the country after the Eagles lured in three first round picks in the 2023 NHL Draft: Will Smith (4th overall to San Jose), Ryan Leonard (8th overall to Washington) and Gabe Perrault (23rd overall to the New York Rangers). Cutter Gauthier, who was selected 5th overall by Philadelphia in the 2022 draft, will also return for BC. 

With the return of star defenseman Lane Hutson and the arrival of freshmen Macklin Celebrini and Tom Willander — who was selected 11th overall by the  Vancouver Canucks in the 2023 NHL Draft — BU is one of the only teams in the country with the talent to match. 

This home-and-home series will be one of the most anticipated in all of college hockey next season. Then, the two teams will indulge in a rematch a week later in the Beanpot semifinals at TD Garden.

This article is part of the 2023-2024 printed “Hockey Issue” that will be available on campus Oct. 27 and at opening night at Agganis Arena. 

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