Game Previews

Terriers prep for Red Hot Hockey showdown with Cornell at Madison Square Garden

Photo by Gracie Davenport.

The No. 5 Boston University men’s hockey team (9-3-1. 5-1-1 Hockey East) will cap off its November schedule with yet another tough test — this time against the No. 16/17 Cornell University Big Red (4-3-1, 2-3-1 ECAC). Saturday’s barnburner will mark the ninth edition of Red Hot Hockey with puck drop at Madison Square Garden set for 8 p.m.

“I think it’s kind of why these guys like playing this game,” BU head coach Jay Pandolfo said Wednesday. “They want to compete. We have a lot of guys that enjoy those moments, so I’m looking forward to it.” 

The Terriers have all the momentum heading into the weekend matchup after defeating the reigning national champions, the No. 3 Quinnipiac University Bobcats, 3-2, Wednesday at Agganis Arena. 

BU has posted a 6-1-0 record over the month of November, picking up four victories over top-10 teams, and the Terriers now sit atop the PairWise rankings. 

Wednesday’s win was a glimpse of just how dangerous this team can be from top to bottom. In particular, BU’s entire defensive core has shown great improvement over the course of the season, and they recorded a season-high 23 blocked shots against the Bobcats.

Every blue-liner pulled out all the stops to hold Quinnipiac, the third-best offense in the nation, at bay over the first 40 minutes. However, BU’s final wall of defense — junior goaltender Mathieu Caron — shined in his own right. 

Caron gave his team a fighting chance, and the newfound composure of this group pulled through in the end. The Terriers’ offensive firepower has not been an issue, but all three contributions coming from guys like sophomore forwards Jeremy Wilmer and Ryan Greene articulate how the team’s recent success has taken a collective effort. 

Coming back from a two-goal deficit in the third period against a shutdown team like Quinnipiac is yet another hard lesson learned and will undoubtedly be a helpful reminder come playoff time. 

“In situations like that, especially at the start of the year, I don’t think we did a good enough job,” Greene said. “Now, I think we’re doing a much better job of keeping the energy high and believing in each other.”

The Big Red have struggled over the last few weeks, but Saturday’s tilt will by no means be a cakewalk for the cruising Terriers. 

It’s uncommon for BU to face off against Cornell outside of this biennial tradition, but the Terriers hosted the rare out-of-conference contest last season before meeting them again in the NCAA Manchester Regional final. 

In the two physical matchups, BU held the slight edge to take both games, and Cornell will not be quick to forget. Most notably, the Terriers ended the Big Red’s 2022-23 campaign en route to the Frozen Four. College hockey fans should be in for a treat Saturday. 

“We had two great games against them last year,” Pandolfo said. “We know they’re very difficult to play against, so it’s gonna be another tough matchup for us.”

Six current Terriers will be looking for redemption after losing 6-4 in 2021’s Red Hot Hockey showing. Meanwhile, the rest of the team will have to navigate the spectacle of it all. 

“It’s gonna be crazy from what I’ve heard from guys that have done it before,” Greene said.

Luckily for the first-years, the remainder of BU’s roster earned ample playing time in NHL rinks last season. However, reminiscing on the 2023 Beanpot Tournament — it was not always pretty. Saturday’s game will be a true litmus test for how poised this current roster can be on the big stage as it prepares for matchups of much higher stakes over second semester. 

“You’d expect it to be crazy, but it’s even crazier when you get out there,” Greene said. “Probably just have a talk with those guys and preparing them … it’s a big atmosphere,  a lot’s getting thrown at you, but at the end of the day it’s still hockey.”

Five things to know about the Big Red

  • Cornell has not recorded a regulation win over its last four games, going 0-3-1 over that stretch. 
  • Senior forward Gabriel Seger leads the way in offense with 10 points (four goals, six assists) over eight games. 
  • Junior goaltender Ian Shane has earned the start in seven of the Big Red’s first eight games, posting a .908 save percentage and 1.77 goals-against average. 
  • Cornell’s penalty kill ranks 54th in the nation. Over the team’s four-game skid, the kill has allowed five goals on 12 attempts (58.3%). 
  • The Big Red are 2-1-0 against ranked teams this season after earning the weekend sweep against the then No. 11 Minnesota Duluth on Oct. 27 and 28. However, the Bulldogs have since dropped out of the national rankings.

The Boston Hockey Blog will have full, on-the-ground coverage of Saturday’s 8 p.m. matchup at Madison Square Garden so be sure to follow along on Twitter (X) @BOShockeyblog and Instagram

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