Game Previews

Terriers close out regular season with games against Providence, Vermont

Photo by Gracie Davenport.

It’s all come down to this.

The No. 2 Boston University men’s hockey team will play its final two games of the season this week with conference matchups against Providence College and the University of Vermont. 

With the Terriers locked into a two-seed for the Hockey East playoffs, this weekend’s series may not be the most important games of the season. However, BU head coach Jay Pandolfo wants the team to be locked in – especially with both their opponents still jockeying for postseason positioning. 

“This time of year you’re always expecting everyone’s best. They’re still playing for playoff seedings in Hockey East, so we certainly expect their best,” Pandolfo said about Thursday’s matchup with the Friars. 

Per Pandolfo, junior defenseman Ty Gallagher has practiced with the team and will be available to play Thursday after suffering a lower-body injury against UConn on Feb. 23. Senior forward Dylan Peterson – who got a lower-body injury in the same game – has not practiced yet and is not available against Providence. Pandolfo said Peterson is “progressing well.” 

The Terriers will travel to Rhode Island for a Thursday night game against the Friars and then face off against the Catamounts on Saturday night for BU’s senior night. The two-game stretch will be an important one to play a consistent 60 minutes of hockey before the conference playoffs. 

“We can’t have stretches where we’re not playing our game, there’s gonna be stretches where other teams push, other teams want to win too,” Pandolfo said. “You want to get going into the playoffs playing your best hockey.”

After going 12-1 in their first 13 conference matchups this season — with the lone loss coming in the season’s second game at UNH — the Terriers ended up surrendering their conference lead to No. 1 Boston College. But, Pandolfo says the team hasn’t talked about coming up short in grabbing the regular-season title. 

“To be honest with you, we haven’t really even talked about it. We’re focused on trying to play our best hockey, focused on just one day at a time,” Pandolfo said. 

Following that 12-1 stretch, the Terriers closed out the season with a 5-2-2 record in Hockey East matchups, but, if everything holds together, BU will likely only finish four points behind Boston College.

So, at the end of it all, the No. 1 seed in Hockey East and – arguably in the NCAA Tournament – was decided by the home-and-home Battle of Comm Ave series in early February. 

“That’s over and done when it comes to a regular-season title. Of course we would’ve liked to win it but we haven’t even talked about it, we’re focused on playing well tomorrow against Providence,” Pandolfo said. 

Saturday night’s game against Vermont will be the last regular season competition on Agganis Arena ice for the seniors and graduate players. 

“They’ve meant a lot to our group,” Pandolfo said. “Those guys kind of bought into what we’re trying to do. They lead by example, not only on the ice, but off the ice, a lot of good, high-character players.”

Photo by Gracie Davenport.

It’s very possible that Saturday’s regular-season finale is the final regular season game for the team’s two star players, Lane Hutson and Macklin Celebrini. 

Earlier in the season, when asked on the Terrier Hockey Talk podcast if he had thought at all about playing a third year for the Terriers, Hutson said “you never know,” he continued, “I try not to think too much about it, I guess we’ll just see at the end of the year.”

With Hutson being one of the most hyped prospects in the NHL and Celebrini projected to be the No. 1 overall pick in the 2024 Draft, it’s hard not to wonder if Saturday is their regular season finale as well. 

“I don’t want to get ahead of ourselves and start thinking about guys that are going to be here and not be here, it’s one day at a time here for us,” Pandolfo said. 

Three things to know about the Friars:

  • Since getting an effective split against the Terriers in mid-February — winning in a shootout at home and losing 5-2 at Agganis Arena — Providence has a 2-1-0 record with games against UMass Lowell and Merrimack. 
  • Boston Bruins prospect Phillip Svedeback continues to be one of the most dominant netminders in Hockey East, ranking 11th in the country in GAA with 2.22 for the Friars this season.
  • In the world of goofy stats, Providence is tied with UMass for the ninth tallest team in the country with an average height of 6-foot-3…six spots behind the third-ranked Terriers.

Three things to know about the Catamounts:

  • Despite being a middle-of-the pack team on PK% — tied with Bowling Green at 22nd in the country — Vermont has allowed the second-most shorthanded goals in the country with nine so far this season. 
  • The Catamounts have six NHL drafted players on their roster this season. Junior defenseman Luca Münzenberger is the highest selection on the team after being drafted in the third round by the Edmonton Oilers in 2021. 
  • Vermont is coming off a weekend split against the University of Maine in which it won 2-1 on Friday and lost 3-2 on Saturday. The Catamounts have lost three of their last five games 

Puck drop is set for 7 p.m. Thursday against the Friars at Schneider Arena, and 4 p.m. Saturday against Vermont at Agganis Arena. 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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