Game Previews

Terriers focusing on Merrimack matchup ahead of Beanpot Championship

Photo by Gracie Davenport.

While Monday’s Beanpot Championship game is fresh on the minds of the Terrier faithful, the No. 3 Boston University men’s hockey team must focus in on its Hockey East matchup against the Merrimack College Warriors before it shifts to trophy hunting.

The Terriers (18-7-1, 12-4-1 HE) swept the Warriors (10-16-1, 3-13-1 HE) earlier in the season, winning 4-1 on Dec. 2 – in a game that had over 100 penalty minutes – and 5-2 on Dec. 2. 

“I think they understand that this game on Friday is very important to us,” BU head coach Jay Pandolfo said Thursday of his team. “I thought our guys have responded well in games preceding – every game is a big game, don’t get me wrong – but preceding obviously the Beanpot is a big deal.” 

BU took down the top-ranked Boston College Eagles, 4-3, Monday night at TD Garden in the Beanpot semifinals, and will face Northeastern University in the title matchup. While two goals from freshman forward Macklin Celebrini and sophomore forward Ryan Greene’s emergence as a real leader aided the Terrier victory, it wouldn’t have been possible without junior goaltender Mathieu Caron. 

Caron’s steady development since transferring to BU from Brown University this season has allowed the scarlet and white to be a constant in the contender category. Against the Eagles, Caron made 34 saves and showed poise during high-pressure moments on one of college hockey’s biggest stages.

“He’s more calm in the net – I think that’s made a big difference for him. His rebound control is much better…I just see more composure in his game, and I think it’s helped his confidence as well. He’s been great for us,” Pandolfo said. 

Caron has started in all 26 games for the Terriers this year, posting a 2.50 goals against average and .912 save percentage. His recent consistency has been invaluable to BU, and will be a key in handling the Warriors. 

Photo by Gracie Davenport.

Sophomore forward Devin Kaplan returned to the lineup Monday after suffering a lower-body injury in the Jan. 26 game against BC. Kaplan replaced freshman forward Doug Grimes on the fourth line in the Beanpot semifinal. Pandolfo said BU is fully healthy for Friday against Merrimack, and that he doesn’t plan to hold anyone out in preparation for Monday. 

The Terriers – who dropped three games in five days last week – know they can’t underestimate any conference opponent, especially in the second-half stretch of the season. This will be especially true, even against a struggling Warrior team. 

“They compete very hard. They always play very well against us,” Pandolfo said of Merrimack. “We had a hard time with them the previous year, we’ve had two tough matchups this year. We expect them to give us a tough game, and we have to make sure we’re ready for it.” 

Five things to know about Merrimack: 

  • The Warriors are on a six-game losing streak, last falling 3-2 to UMass Amherst on Friday and 3-1 to the University of New Hampshire on Saturday. 
  • Merrimack has been riddled with injuries as of late. In Saturday’s game against UNH, eight players – Alex Jefferies, Mac Welsher, Ethan Bono, Trevor Griebel, Chase Stevenson, Tyler Young, Nikita Borodayenko and Mike Brown – were all sidelined. 
  • Junior forward Matt Copponi – who was suspended one game for a hit on BU defenseman Cade Webber in the Dec. 1 game – leads the Warriors in points with 30 (seven goals, 23 assists). 
  • Junior Hugo Ollas and senior Zachary Borgiel have been splitting the net for Merrimack this season. Ollas has a 2.89 GAA and .905 V%, while Borgiel has a 2.99 GAA and .896 SV%. 
  • The Warriors’ power play has struggled this season, ranking 35th in the nation at .189 (17-for-90). Their penalty kill sits at 12th in the nation with a .848 percentage. Merrimack has allowed 14 opponent power-play goals. 

Puck drop is set for 7 p.m. at Agganis Arena on Friday night. The Boston Hockey Blog will have full, on-the-ground coverage so be sure to follow along on Twitter (X) @BOShockeyblog and Instagram

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