Game Previews

Terriers look to build on sweep in top-10 matchup with Maine

Photo by Gracie Davenport.

No. 8 Boston University men’s hockey (6-3-1, 3-1-1 Hockey East) will continue to be tested this weekend as it hosts the No. 9 University of Maine Black Bears (6-1-1, 3-0-1 HE) for a pair of top-10 matchups at Agganis Arena. 

“Last weekend was a good weekend for us — good step forward,” BU head coach Jay Pandolfo said Thursday. “Hopefully we can build off that, and we’re going to have to. Watching Maine, they’re a really good team.” 

This week marks the Black Bears’ first time in the top 10 of the national rankings since March 2012. 

“Feels a little bit like the old days when I actually played at BU,” Pandolfo said. “BU-Maine had a pretty big rivalry back then. It’s going to be a lot of fun.” 

After a slow start to their season, the Terriers have found their identity as of late. BU has not lost in regulation in seven straight games, dating back to Oct. 20. 

The Terriers are coming off of their first weekend sweep of the season, taking down the UMass Lowell River Hawks by a score of 3-2 Friday and 6-1 Saturday. 

The parity in HE play has been at an all-time high this season. For BU, racking up all six points is one thing, but doing it in decisive fashion was huge for the believability of this team. 

Pandolfo credited his team’s offensive breakthrough Saturday night to smart plays in their own end. 

“One was a five-on-three goal, but the other five were all off D-zone transitions or breakouts,” Pandolfo said. “That’s when I know our team is playing well because we’re responsible defensively.”

After sitting out of Friday’s tilt for the first time this season due to “residual soreness,” NCAA-leading scorer Macklin Celebrini potted four assists Saturday. Macklin seemingly finds chemistry with every line he plays on — making every player around him better — and that was on full display as he powered sophomore forward Quinn Hutson to his first career hat trick.  

“[Quinn] knows how to score, so he’s fun to play with,” Macklin said Thursday. “Tuchy, too. I’ve played with him longer, so we got that connection. I’m lucky to have two great linemates.” 

Macklin took another late hit to the head early in the first period Saturday. Although there was no initial call on the play, Lowell’s sophomore forward Dillan Bentley was assessed a one-game suspension by Hockey East Monday. 

“Hockey’s, hockey,” Macklin said. “Honestly, I’m just kind of focusing on this weekend and just kind of playing my game … you can’t really control it.”

However, Pandolfo remains vocal about the uptick in “unnecessary hits” in recent games — not just to Macklin but to the entire team.  

“It’s definitely something that needs to be addressed because [when] you take too many hits, it can affect you later on,” Pandolfo said. “I was happy with the suspension. I think they did the right thing … you got to hold these players accountable, and our players included.”

Lane Hutson continued to dominate offensively over the weekend, picking up a goal in each contest. The sophomore defenseman is riding a four-game scoring streak with six goals over that span. 

But beyond the headliners, the rest of the star-studded Terrier lineup has shown it can find ways to win without those two in the lineup. Last weekend in particular, BU’s depth shined with guys like Sam Stevens, Ryan Greene and Jack Hughes all lighting the lamp. 

“We roll four lines a lot of the time because any line could really score at any time,” Hughes said. “Obviously, those guys have been producing a lot … but I think for us to be a great team, and get to that next level, we need it to come from everybody.”

When facing tough opponents like Maine, it will be crucial for the entire team to show up on time.  

“Maine’s got a good forechecking team. They do a good job in the neutral zone. So for us again, it’s the execution on the breakouts, making sure we’re sound defensively coming back into our end,” Pandolfo said. “They play an in-your-face type game. I’ve been very impressed.” 

Five things to know about Maine: 

  • Maine is coming off an unbeaten weekend against the then-No. 1 Boston College Eagles, winning 3-2 in regulation Friday before taking them to a 2-2 tie Saturday.
  • The Black Bears struck first in both games and never trailed all weekend. 
  • First-year brothers Bradley and Josh Nadeau and senior captain Lynden Breen lead Maine’s offense with 10 points a piece. Younger brother Bradley has three of his team’s six game-winners.
  • Maine is strong at the dot — holding the best faceoff win percentage in the NCAA at 55.8%. 
  • Senior goaltender Victor Ostman has earned all eight starts and took home this week’s HE Goaltender of the Week award for his 52-save weekend against the Eagles. 

Both games will be played at Agganis Arena with Friday’s puck drop set for 7 p.m. and Saturday’s rematch slated for 6 p.m. The Boston Hockey Blog will have full, on-the-ground coverage of both games, so be sure to follow along on Twitter (X) @BOShockeyblog and Instagram 

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