After nearly a month without a game due to the midseason holiday break, the Terriers will return to the ice on Tuesday in a visit to their Allston foes, the Harvard Crimson.
The Terriers concluded the natural first half of their season with a 6-8-2 record, going 5-5-2 in Hockey East play. While an 0-4 start and a midpoint record hovering right around .500 may not have been what first-year head coach Albie O’Connell had in mind to begin his tenure, there is certainly an optimism surrounding the team coming into the second half.
“I think we made good strides”, said O’Connell in an interview with Scott Weighart of GoTerriers.com. “We’ve played some good hockey, but the consistency level of individual and team have to match up and connect. When that happens, we play really well.”
“We have a very young team and a new coach,” said junior forward Patrick Curry to Weighart. “[The first half] wasn’t the greatest, but we went out a high note with two wins before the break.”
As alluded to by Curry, the Terriers found some success towards the end of 2018, pulling off back-to-back wins over UMass Lowell (9-8-1, 5-4-1 in Hockey East) and Dartmouth (5-7-2, 4-2-1 in ECAC). The wins featured five and four goals respectively for the Terriers, whose shorthanded roster at the time made the victories that much more impressive.
Away from the team, freshman Joel Farabee and sophomore Logan Cockerill built some individual confidence as contributing members of the silver medal-winning USA squad at the World Junior Championships in British Columbia. Sophomore Shane Bowers also participated in the tournament, proving to be a key performer for Team Canada throughout the tournament.
“I think the guys played well”, said Coach O’Connell. “Hopefully their confidence level is high.”
On the Harvard side, the Crimson (6-4-2, 3-3-2 in ECAC) will be playing their second game of 2019 after defeating RPI (5-14, 3-6 in ECAC) in overtime on January 4, with freshman Casey Dornbach scoring the game-winner. Senior Lewis Senior Zerter-Gossage assisted Dornach’s goal, and also opened the scoring for Harvard earlier in the contest, recording his team-leading ninth tally of the season.
With his goal against RPI and an assist as well, Dornbach moved to second on the team in points with 18. Junior Adam Fox leads the team with 20 points, creating attacking production despite his primary role as a defenseman. Dornbach and Fox share the team lead in assists with a whopping fifteen helpers each, seven assists ahead of the next closest provider, freshman Jack Drury.
Senior netminder Michael Lackey made 24 saves in his victorious effort against RPI, and has been relied on by the Crimson all season, starting eleven of the team’s twelve games and holding a save percentage of .912. Likely opposing Lackey on Tuesday will be BU junior Jake Oettinger, who has assumed a similar workload, but holds a slightly superior save percentage of .924.
For the Terriers, this game will be the first of three in what will be a very busy week to open up play in 2019. Following their visit to Harvard on Tuesday, BU will host the University of New Hampshire (6-7-6, 2-4-3 in Hockey East) and travel to Providence College (12-4-4, 6-2-1 in Hockey East) over the weekend.
Getting a win against Harvard could give the Terriers some coveted momentum ahead of two major Hockey East contests, and propel the team forward into the second half of the season.
“We’re going to have to start on a strong note,” summarized O’Connell.
The game will be played at Harvard’s Bright-Landry Hockey Center on January 8 at 7pm, and can be heard through GoTerriers.com, or watched for a fee on ESPN+.
Can BU get off to a strong start in 2019 against Harvard? Share your thoughts in the comments section below – we’d love to hear from you!