Game Previews

Terriers to host Northeastern in Hockey East Quarterfinal

Photo by Gracie Davenport.

Buckle up. 

Few teams in the NCAA have had a harder schedule this season than the Terriers, and the postseason will be no exception. Playoff hockey is finally here, and it is shaping up to be an exhilarating slate of Hockey East matchups in a historically good season for the league. 

Following the Hockey East Opening Round on Wednesday, the No. 2 Boston University men’s hockey team (24-8-2, 18-4-2 HE) will host the Northeastern Huskies (17-15-3, 9-14-1 HE) in the quarterfinals on Saturday at Agganis Arena  — the teams’ fourth meeting this season. 

Earlier this year, the reigning Hockey East champs took down the No. 1 Boston College and No. 3 North Dakota and Quinnipiac, but no team has given the Terriers as much trouble as the Huskies. Northeastern is the only conference team BU does not have a regulation win against this season. 

“It’s an easy game to get up for,” BU assistant captain Cade Webber said Friday. “I want to complete team goals here. Obviously it starts Saturday, winning one game, and then take it from there.”

All three previous matchups between these two teams have ended in 4-3 overtime decisions, with the most recent loss coming on the biggest stage in the Beanpot final on Feb. 16.

BU hockey fans were left scratching their heads after the tough blow, as the Terriers dominated possession time and shots on net 41-29 — a clear improvement from the lackluster performance put together by BU two weeks prior against the same team on Jan. 30. 

Despite whatever statistics BU led by, BU head coach Jay Pandolfo noted his team’s failure to get inside on the Huskies, generate secondary chances and play with desperation ultimately decided the championship. 

All three of these categories will be all important for the Terriers as they begin their playoff push against a Northeastern team fighting to play deep into March. 

“They do a very good job at protecting the middle of the ice,” Pandolfo said Thursday. “And then they have some players that can make some plays offensively as well, so they’re a dangerous team.”

BU may have already locked in its ticket to the NCAA tournament, but Saturday’s quarterfinal cannot be overlooked. 

“Just limit their odd-man rushes. That’s how they capitalize,” Webber said. “Take the goalie’s eyes away, get in front of him, and try to bang in a rebound. It’s not going to be pretty always.” 

Since the Beanpot loss, the Terriers have not dropped a contest in regulation, but the team continues to look for “different areas to improve.”

“I think we’re trending in the right direction, no question. I think we’re playing a more complete game,” Pandolfo said. “I still think our second periods haven’t been great…that’s still an area where we have to make sure we’re doing a better job.”

BU’s offense has exploded up and down the lineup as of late and is a large part of its recent success. Over their last five games, the Terriers have outscored their opponents 27-6. Contenders need their goal scorers to produce during this stretch of the year, and BU’s key players are hitting their groove at the right time. 

Photo by Gracie Davenport.

After only recording one goal in the first half, senior forward Nick Zabaneh has scored five goals in his last six contests, including two short-handed. Sophomore Quinn Hutson, who has struggled offensively after a productive first half, now has five goals in his last last four games — including a hat trick in the regular-season finale on March 9.

Dylan Peterson is expected to be back in the lineup after suffering a lower-body injury on Feb. 23, and the senior forward — an invaluable piece to this BU team — knows a thing or two about scoring against the Huskies

Peterson was back on his usual spot on the fourth line with senior Luke Tuch and graduate Sam Stevens during Friday’s practice. 

“That fourth line I’d put against anyone in the country,” Webber said. “They’re hard to play against, relentless, they’re older, they know what it takes to win.”

On the back end, the Terriers have been just as sturdy. Webber recently broke the NCAA record for most blocks in a single season and became just the third Terrier to be honored as Hockey East’s Best Defensive Defenseman. 

“Obviously it’s an honor, and I’m humbled to get that recognition, but I want to win championships,” Webber said. “I couldn’t do it without our coaches here.”

However, the Terriers’ final wall of defense — junior goaltender Mathieu Caron — needs to be just as solid. 

Come Saturday, may the top dog win. 

Five things to know about the Huskies: 

  • Northeastern is coming off a 4-0 victory over Merrimack in the Hockey East Opening Round on Wednesday.
  • Freshman goaltender Cameron Whitehead recorded his fourth shutout of the season with 22 saves. Whitehead has started in 34 of the Huskies’ 35 games this season. 
  • Alex Campbell is Northeastern’s leading goal scorer with 22 goals, and he scored the game-winning goal against the Warriors. The forward transferred from Clarkson for his senior season and recorded a hat trick in the previous game against Providence on March 9. 
  • The Huskies hold the best faceoff percentage in the NCAA, winning 55.6% of their draws. 
  • Northeastern has had great success at Agganis Arena in recent years. The last time BU won in regulation on home ice against its cross-town rival came on Dec. 7, 2019.

Puck drop for the Hockey East Quarterfinal is set for 4:15 p.m. 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

One Comment

  1. I am going to be really pissed if they lose to these guys again. After two heartbreaking OT losses (and i know the refs screwed us in the one at NU), there should be no letdown because they took them lightly. we are the better team. Go BU