BU with reason to be optimistic entering Hockey East championship weekend

Written by Liam O’Brien and Brady Gardner

We have made it to the final weekend of Hockey East play and the Boston University men’s hockey team is still alive.

After missing out on a golden chance to host a conference quarterfinal series, the fifth-seeded Terriers responded with fervor to knock off fourth-seeded UMass Lowell with two wins in a best-of-three series this past weekend.

While doubts had circled overhead leading up to the series, the Terriers impressed last weekend in Lowell. They could have been discouraged after relinquishing the chance to stay at home, but they instead unleashed their rage on the helpless Riverhawks.

“They earned it,” said BU head coach Albie O’Connell of his Terriers.

In the opening game of the series, junior goaltender Jake Oettinger saved all 25 UMass Lowell shots on goal, pitching his 13th shutout as a Terrier to tie the program record. Meanwhile, his offense took care of him as freshman phenom Joel Farabee scored early in the second period to break a scoreless tie, and Cam Crotty and Patrick Curry finished off a 3-0 victory for the Terriers.

After a 6-4 loss on Saturday night, BU closed the door on Sunday afternoon. The Terriers have struggled in the first period often in the second semester, but that did not happen with the season on the line. Junior defenseman Chad Krys, Farabee and junior forward Patrick Harper said goodnight to Tsongas Center with a goal each in the first period and BU proceeded to win, 4-1.

“I thought we played a good hockey game from start to finish,” said BU head coach Albie O’Connell after securing the series-deciding victory.

As a result of their victorious weekend in Lowell, BU receives the opportunity to defend its Hockey East crown this weekend, starting on Friday in the semifinals against Northeastern.

“I’m really happy for our players,” said Coach O’Connell. “Really excited for them.”

The Huskies roll into this matchup having won nine of their last 10 games. However, the Terriers have enjoyed relative success against their counterparts from Huntington Ave.

Each team has won once in the season series in addition to a 5-5 tie at Matthews Arena on Nov. 1, one of the more entertaining games of the season. BU entered the game winless and Northeastern scored twice in the first four minutes. Unfazed by the early hole, the Terriers made a statement that Thursday evening in front of a raucous road crowd.

Sophomore forward Logan Cockerill netted a highlight reel goal the slice the deficit in half before the first stanza concluded. Patrick Curry knotted the score in the second period off assists from sophomores Kasper Kotkansalo and Ty Amonte. The lead then changed hands multiple times before ending in a tie.

Two nights later, the Terriers hammered the Huskies, 4-1, at Agganis Arena for their first win of the season. In that contest, junior defenseman Dante Fabbro scored the first pair of goals before senior forward Bobo Carpenter and Curry netted goals in the latter part of the third period to give BU a 4-0 lead.

The teams met again on the first Monday of the Beanpot, a rematch of last season’s lopsided Northeastern win in the tournament finale. This tilt was a classic. Each team scored in the first period with junior defenseman Chad Krys doing the honors for the Terriers.

After that, neither team was able to put one past the keeper before Northeastern freshman forward Tyler Madden ended the game with a goal 51 seconds into overtime. The Huskies have been scary at TD Garden over the past two years, but there is no reason why BU can’t beat Northeastern at the Bruins den for the first time since 2016.

“I’d be scared to play the Terriers at the Garden,” remarked Farabee.

Should the Terriers best the Huskies, BU will be taking on the winner of Friday’s nightcap between the University of Massachusetts and Boston College.

Finishing as the Hockey East leaders in dominant fashion, the Minutemen hosted eighth-seeded University of New Hampshire in the quarterfinals. UMass suffered an early scare in their series with the Wildcats, going down 3-0 just past the halfway point in Game One. However, the Minutemen rallied for the 5-4 victory in overtime, and finished off the visitors the following night with a convincing 6-0 thrashing of UNH.

On the other side, Boston College had an underwhelming regular season, finishing in the conference’s seventh seed. However, the Eagles came through when it mattered, taking down Providence College on the road last weekend. The series went the distance, with the first two games getting split by way of two overtime finishes. Level through two periods in Game Three, BC would gain an eventual winner, shocking the hosts and leaving with the series win.

With so much potential variation in what could occur, only one thing is certain – it is going to be an exciting weekend of Hockey East playoffs at the TD Garden. Tune in to the games on NESN, and follow along with BU hockey through the Boston Hockey Blog’s live blog during the game.

Live Blog: BU plays BC in Hockey East semis

The Hockey East semifinals are here at long last, with an extra does of rivalry.

Starting at 8 p.m., the No. 7 Boston University men’s hockey team will do battle with No. 14 Boston College, all with a berth in Saturday’s title game on the line. The game, held at TD Garden, will be broadcast on NESN and ESPN3.

BU has beaten BC three times already this season, and an Eagle loss practically guarantees their NCAA Tournament dreams are squashed. As for BU, there’s all to play for ahead of what’s a guaranteed spot in the NCAA Tournament.

We’ll be live all night at the Garden, so follow along below!

Live Blog BU vs. BC – Hockey East semifinals
 

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Live Blog: BU clashes with BC in Beanpot semifinal

Welcome to TD Garden, where the No. 3 Boston University men’s hockey team and No. 7 Boston College will square off in the semifinal round of the 65th Beanpot Tournament. Puck drop is set for 8 p.m.

As always, we’re live for the game’s action, so feel free to follow along via our live blog below.

The game is also broadcast on NESN and TSN2 for those not in attendance.

Live Blog BU vs. BC – Beanpot Semifinal
 

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BU opens up 65th Beanpot vs. Boston College

The Beanpot Tournament is back.

Slated for an 8 p.m. showdown with No. 8 Boston College, the No. 3 Boston University men’s hockey will kick off the 65th Beanpot at TD Garden. That’s right, the same Eagle side that the Terriers already knocked off twice this year.

Don’t expect those tilts to factor in too much, though, at least according to head coach David Quinn. For more on that, check out Shelby’s preview over on The Daily Free Press.

There’ll also be plenty of history at play, as BU has won 30 Beanpot titles throughout the years. The last came in 2015, and Jonathan wrote about those memories over on The Daily Free Press.

Oh, one more thing. Check out this video The Dog Pound created. Gotta love it.

From the FreeP: Terriers show improvement in Beanpot

By Kevin Dillon/DFP Staff

A couple inches to the right, and it would have been a tie game.

A couple inches to the right and Boston University freshman forward Kevin Duane’s deflection would have sailed into the top corner of the net. The score would have leveled. BU would have been on the verge of an incredible upset.

Instead, the vulcanized rubber caught a piece of No. 2 Boston College goalie Thatcher Demko’s jersey. It fluttered behind the net and shortly after it was gliding into BU’s (8-15-3, 3-8-2 Hockey East) open net with a push thanks to the efforts of forward Johnny Gaudreau.

It was a predictable ending — the best offense in the country beat up on the worst scoring defense in Hockey East. But this one was different. Win or lose, Monday night’s performance in the Beanpot semifinal was the best BU had to offer — and it was not that bad.

For more, read dailyfreepress.com 

From the FreeP: TOPPLED OVER: BU falls to BC in 1st round of Beanpot

By Meredith Perri/DFP Staff

Already in a 2-0 hole during the second half of the middle frame, the Boston University men’s hockey team found itself with another disadvantage. As freshman defenseman Doyle Somerby skated off the ice with a game misconduct, the Terriers would need to kill off a five-minute major penalty and deal with losing a defenseman from an already thin lineup.

As the minutes ticked away, the Terriers (8-15-3, 3-8-2 Hockey East) displayed one of their most impressive penalty kills of the season. Those five minutes of strong play, however, meant little as the Terriers could not overcome an early deficit during Monday’s 3-1 Beanpot opener loss to No. 2 Boston College at TD Garden.

“Boy, I can’t tell you how proud I am of our players,” said BU coach David Quinn. “We competed from the drop of the puck until the whistle blew.

For more, read dailyfreepress.com 

Pluses and Minuses: BU good but not good enough in Beanpot semis vs. BC

By Tim Healey/DFP Staff

It was about as predictable as a Boston University men’s hockey game could get this season.

The stage was big (Beanpot semifinals at TD Garden) and the opponent tough (No. 2 Boston College). The Terriers kept it close, scoring in the third to make it a one-goal game, before ultimately losing, 3-1, after an empty-netter Monday night. For the third time in four years, BU will play the Beanpot consolation game.

Here’s a look at what went wrong and what went right for coach David Quinn’s crew.

Minuses

BC’s ‘second’ line
The trio of junior Johnny Gaudreau, senior Bill Arnold and senior Kevin Hayes is listed second on the Eagles’ line chart, but they’re the top line not only at BC but in all of college hockey.

With a goal and an assist, Gaudreau’s point streak — the longest in the country — is up to 22 games. Hayes’ goal was his 20th of the year, and Arnold assisted on both of his linemates’ tallies for an even 30 helpers this season.

“Every time they’re out there,” Quinn said, “you’re holding your breath.”

BU’s man advantage
Typically a strength, the Terrier power play failed to score on its five chances, despite getting eight shots on net.

Quinn said his team was trying to be “too cute,” trying to take perfect shots from the blue line instead of getting the puck on net and looking for a rebound. This was particularly evident toward the end of the second when BU sustained pressure didn’t have any close scoring chances to show for it.

The strategy was clear: Get the puck to sophomore defenseman Ahti Oksanen, whose rocket of a slap shot has served him well this season. But the Eagles did a good job of staying on Oksanen, playing him tight and not allowing him much of a shooting lane. The Terriers kept getting him the puck at the point, but he was continually forced to dish it off to his teammates. When he did get a shot off, it was usually blocked.

“Obviously the difference in the game was they got a power play goal and we didn’t,” Quinn said.

Recent Beanpot history 
With one game to go, the Class of 2014 has one just one win in seven Beanpot chances. Three of the six losses have come at the hands of BC, and two of those came in overtime.

Captain Garrett Noonan is the only senior to have played in all seven games.

As mentioned above, this is also the third time in the last three years the Terriers find themselves playing the early game in week two of Boston’s annual four-team tournament. The first two times — 2011 and 2013 — BU drew Harvard, then dropped the game to the Crimson, big blows BU’s NCAA Tournament prospects at the time.

This year, that isn’t really an issue. Only pride is on the line.

Pluses

Killing the five-minute major
Freshman defenseman Doyle Somerby drew a hitting-from-behind major and game misconduct on a questionable call when he hit Hayes along the boards midway through the second period.

The result was a long power play for the Eagles. A goal — or more — would have buried BU. But the Terriers responded with what was arguably their best five minutes of hockey all night, getting clear after clear — and even a 2-on-1 shorthanded goal chance — before moving back to 5-on-5 play.

Quinn and BC coach Jerry York both identified the kill as a momentum shift, though one that ultimately proved insufficient.

“Early, their power play they had some great chances and then we settled down a little bit killing,” Quinn said. “Ironically that gave us a little bit of a lift.”

Shot margin
One theme of BU’s season didn’t hold true Monday night. BC won the shots-on-goal battle, 32-28, but the difference of four was impressive considering the talent gap between the teams and some of the SOG margins the Terriers have been on the wrong end of this season.

BU even outshot BC, 10-5, in the first period. It was the first time since. Jan. 11 against the University of Maine — the “flooded” Fenway game — BU outshot its opponent during an entire period.

The shot margin in turn made the game a bit easier for sophomore Matt O’Connor, who made 29 saves while turning in another strong performance between the pipes.