BU adopts “us against the world” mentality ahead of North Dakota, NCAA Tournament

BU is playing in its third straight NCAA Tournament. PHOTO BY MADDIE MALHOTRA/DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF

Doyle Somerby has heard the message loud and clear: He and his teammates are underdogs on Friday.

The senior defenseman and captain of the No. 6 Boston University men’s hockey team doesn’t like it one bit.

“In our locker room we’ve seen a lot of people picking North Dakota,” Somerby said of Friday’s West Regional semifinal against the No. 10 Fighting Hawks at Scheels Arena in Fargo, North Dakota. “A lot of people don’t really give us the respect that we should get. Going out there, it’ll be pretty interesting and really loud. I think we’re just using that to fuel ourselves.”

Kindling the flames even further will be 5,000-plus North Dakota (21-15-3) fans, all hoping for the program’s ninth national title. The Terriers (23-11-3), however, aren’t letting the noise — Fargo is 80 miles south of North Dakota’s campus in Grand Forks — muddy their hopes for the sixth national title.

“If you’re an elite athlete and you’re an elite hockey player, this is a game you want to play in,” said BU head coach David Quinn. “ … If I’m a player, I think it’d be pretty cool to go play North Dakota in Fargo in front of a packed house with that type of atmosphere. That’s why you come to places like BU — to play in games like this.”

While the noise is guaranteed to be stifling, fans in Fargo and those watching on ESPN2 will be treated to 21 NHL draft picks — 11 from BU and 10 from the Fighting Hawks.

The player to watch from BU, the youngest team in college hockey, is freshman forward Clayton Keller. The Hockey East Rookie of the Year — also an Arizona Coyotes first-rounder — has 42 points on the year and is seventh in the nation with 1.45 points per game.

Freshman forward Tyson Jost is North Dakota's go-to man on offense. Photo courtesy of: Conor Knuteson/UND Athletics
Freshman forward Tyson Jost is North Dakota’s go-to man on offense. Photo courtesy of: Conor Knuteson/UND Athletics

He’ll be aided by other stars ranging from sophomore defenseman Charlie McAvoy (Boston Bruins) to freshman goaltender Jake Oettinger (a likely first-rounder in 2017) to freshman forward Patrick Harper (Nashville Predators) and more. The key for BU, though, Quinn said, will be turning all its talent into a 60-minute performance.

“Right now we’re playing pretty good hockey,” Quinn said. “The last few weekends I think we’ve played well. A couple of times we haven’t gotten the results we wanted, but we’ve played a much smarter brand of hockey.”

Quinn was referring to BU’s slow starts, as the scarlet and white have allowed the first goal in each of their last nine games.

Sophomore forward Jordan Greenway, however, doesn’t feel that’ll be a problem, especially with a Frozen Four berth on the line.

“This weekend we obviously need to win,” Greenway said. “If you lose you’re done, so we’re really desperate. We want to make it to Chicago and move on forward.”

Obstructing that path will be head coach Brad Berry’s squad, one that allows the nation’s second-fewest shots per game (24.7) and can score in bunches (3.18 goals per game).

Leading their charge up top will be Brock Boeser, Tyson Jost and Shane Gersich, all of whom have surpassed the 30-point mark. Then on defense, keep an eye out for Tucker Poolman (30 points) and Gage Ausmus, as well as goaltender Cam Johnson, a finalist for the Mike Richter Award in 2016.

For junior defenseman Brandon Hickey, the myriad of challenges NoDak poses are all welcomed with open arms.

“As an athlete, you want to go into hostile buildings and be able to go there and say you beat a team on their home ice,” Hickey said. “It’s basically a home game for them being so close to where they play. It’s nothing but excitement out of me. I’m ready to go in there and play in front of a loud crowd and a packed house.”

Freshman forward Clayton Keller was recently named Hockey East Rookie of the Year. PHOTO MY MADDIE MALHOTRA/DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF
Freshman forward Clayton Keller was recently named Hockey East Rookie of the Year. PHOTO MY MADDIE MALHOTRA/DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF

Whichever way Friday’s game is spliced, the fact remains: the winner will advance to Saturday’s West Regional final, also held at Scheels Arena. They’ll take on whoever emerges from the other semifinal between No. 3 University of Minnesota Duluth and No. 14 Ohio State University.

Before then, Somerby said BU has adopted an “us against the world” mentality, and Quinn harped on several coaching points when previewing the encounter.

He highlighted winning puck battles, creating havoc in front of Johnson and making mature decisions with the puck.

And, if all goes to plan, BU will return to Boston with a Frozen Four to prepare for, instead of the end of the 2016-17 season.

“We want to go in there and make sure that we’re going to do whatever it takes to extend the season,” Hickey said. “We don’t it to be our last weekend as a team.”

BU hockey travels to Fargo for NCAA Tournament

The Terriers are heading to Fargo, North Dakota.

Slated against the University of North Dakota, the Boston University men’s hockey team is a part of the NCAA Tournament’s West Regional. The two sides, which met in the 2015 Frozen Four, will clash on Friday night at Scheels Arena in Fargo.

UPDATE: Click here for our story over on The Daily Free Press. Upon first glance, BU isn’t all too worried about the hostile crowd out in Fargo.

What’s your reaction to BU’s destination and matchup? Feel free to share below!



O’Connor breaks career save record in draw with North Dakota

By Meredith Perri/DFP Sports 

After Saturday evening’s tilt with the No. 14/15 University of North Dakota, Boston University men’s hockey coach David Quinn asked Matt O’Connor if he felt like he actually faced 58 shots.

The sophomore netminder not only responded with an affirmative, but he also went on to criticize his performance, saying he did not control his rebounds well.

“I didn’t notice that,” Quinn said, “But you know, he is a goalie. He is hard on himself. That’s how he felt.”

As much as O’Connor may have wanted to cover up more shots, the Toronto native turned out another strong performance in net as he stopped 55 chances during the Terriers 3-3 tie with North Dakota at Agganis Arena.

For the first time this season, and the first time since Nov. 30 through Dec. 6 2012, O’Connor started in three straight games for the Terriers. His streak in goal started halfway through BU’s 7-0 loss against the University of Maine on Nov. 15. Before the weekend series against North Dakota, Quinn said that, while sophomore Sean Maguire has played well this season, he felt that O’Connor had played well enough to deserve the start on Friday.

Although the Saturday spot was to be determined, O’Connor made a convincing argument in the first half of the series as he held North Dakota scoreless until the final three minutes of the game.

Saturday’s game, however, started out far differently from the previous night as North Dakota came out with more physical play. Within the first few minutes of the game UND wing Stephane Pattyn charged the net, pushing O’Connor into the crossbar. While the netminder said he felt the hit, he continued to protect his crease – something he said he was working on earlier in the season.

“I think that might have been their objective – get in my face early on,” O’Connor said. “I’ve been really aggressive around my crease lately trying to get my ground in the crease, so I think that helped.”

North Dakota, which had a total of 84 attempted shots during the game, also increased its attempted shots from 67 on Friday to 84 on Saturday.

“He’s a good goalie, a very good goalie,” Pattyn said. “If we threw pucks at him odds were a couple were going to get in, and if we get traffic in front of him… I think that was our main goal.

“He’s big, he moves well, he’s got a very good glove hand, so we knew we had to get guys in front of him.”

While O’Connor pegged his difficulty controlling rebounds as part of the reason for the number of shots, Quinn also pointed out that the number of BU shots that missed the net also had an impact.

“We missed the net 26 times tonight,” Quinn said. “Twenty-six times. I guarantee you 15 to 20 of their shots were a direct result of us missing the net, shooting it wide, starting their breakout and away they go.”

Despite this added offensive pressure, O’Connor put shot after shot aside, leading to a career high number of saves. A BU goaltender has not registered more than 55 saves in a game since former Terrier Kieran Millan stopped 68 shots during BU’s game against the University of New Hampshire during the Hockey East quarterfinals on March 11, 2012. That game went into two overtimes.

Although Quinn said that it was too early to determine whether O’Connor will pick up his fourth straight start next weekend during the Red Hot Hockey game against Cornell University at Madison Square Garden, he pointed out that O’Connor’s performance followed a trend from the entire season.

“He has been building on every performance he has had,” Quinn said.

Pluses and Minuses: Emotions run high, Dalton MacAfee gets first point in tie with North Dakota

By Tim Healey/DFP Staff 

For the first time since the season’s opening weekend, the Boston University men’s hockey team played two games and didn’t lose either of them. The Terriers (6-6-1, 2-3 Hockey East) tied No. 14/15 University of North Dakota, 3-3, at Agganis Arena a day after taking the series opener.

The teams were quite even on the scoreboard — each squad netted one goal in each of the three periods — but North Dakota (4-6-2) held a significant shots-on-goal advantage, 58-31. Both teams had a number of chances in the five-minute overtime but none of them resulted in what would have been the game-winner.

Here’s a look at what the Terriers did and did not do well.


Matt O’Connor
The sophomore goaltender was the story again Saturday night, just as he was in Friday’s win.

To read more about O’Connor’s game, read Meredith’s piece here.

Power play
BU’s man-advantage got off to a rough start early but by the end of the night it was buzzing similar to the way it was Friday.

Senior captain Garrett Noonan converted on one chance in the first period when he scored from the edge of the left circle about seven minutes in — his second tally of the weekend — for the team’s only goal in seven chances.
“Our last few power plays were good, but early on it really deflated us in a lot of ways,” BU coach David Quinn said. “But I think it was a microcosm of where we were. We were always a half of a step behind early.”

The Terriers finished 3-on-14 on the power play in two games against North Dakota. 

The penalty kill was similarly successful, limiting UND to one goal in nine chances on the weekend.

The Captain
In another similarity to Friday night’s 3-1 win, Noonan seemingly took over at will on occasion, particularly when tensions were running high.

UND came out of the gates fast and chippy, but the Terriers, particularly Noonan, were able to keep their emotions in check despite getting gloves in their face multiple times.

Freshman wing Nick Roberto said that objective came from the coaches. 

“They tried getting us off our game. There was a lot of stuff after the whistle,” he said. “I thought we did a nice job not retaliating with them. Coach stressed that in between the periods, saying ‘Don’t get in this crap with them.’”

Dalton MacAfee
The freshman defenseman picked up his first collegiate point, a secondary assist on the game-tying goal from classmate Robbie Baillargeon.


Return to the sin bin 
Quinn has done a good job of, well, convincing the Terriers to curb the number of penalties they take, but Saturday represented some regression in that category. They took eight minors for 16 minutes, their most since the season opener.

While North Dakota’s general aggression and puck possession forced some of these, a number stick out as egregious. Freshman wing Tommy Kelley committed a tripping infraction in the offensive zone while BU was on the power play in the second, and senior wing Jake Moscatel (charging) and sophomore wing Mike Moran (elbowing) wound up in the penalty box during a tight third period.

“There’s no reason for it,” Quinn said. “All of a sudden it’s slipped back into our game.” 

Before Saturday, the last time BU took more than four penalties was Oct. 26 against Michigan State.

‘Shot wide’ 
A very common phrase on the live blog, much to Quinn’s displeasure.

The Terriers shot and missed the net 24 times, and the BU bench boss estimated the hard bounces off the boards resulted in 15-20 shots for North Dakota.

“There are a lot of reasons to shoot,” Quinn said. “Obviously the first one is to score, but a lot of times you shoot a puck to create a rebound or possess it in the offensive zone. Too often we’re just shooting to score a goal, and there’s really not an opportunity to score.

“This has been a problem all year. It’s a youth hockey mentality.”

UPDATED: O’Connor makes a career-high 55 saves as Terriers tie No. 14/15 North Dakota 3-3

By Kevin Dillon/DFP Staff

The Agganis Arena ice seemed to be tilted in No. 14/15 University of North Dakota’s favor Saturday night, as it outhit and outshot the Boston University men’s hockey team. BU sophomore goaltender Matt O’Connor did his part to even things out though, making a career-high 55 saves while helping the Terriers to a 3-3 tie.

“I thought North Dakota was the better team tonight,” said BU coach David Quinn. “I thought they were more physical, they won more battles, they were faster. Obviously our goalie stood tall and gave us a chance. I’ll take it.”

It was the Terriers’ (6-6-1, 2-3 Hockey East) first tie since Feb. 15, 2013 at the University of Maine. They ended their weekend series with North Dakota (4-6-2, 3-5 NCHC) with a win and a tie — their first weekend without a loss since the first two games of the season.

It was a physical contest early on with several extra scrums between the teams after the whistles and some huge hits. One of the biggest collisions came between two of the most talented players on the ice, as UND sophomore Rocco Grimaldi leaned his leg out and collided full-speed with BU sophomore center Danny O’Regan. Both players were left shaken up on the ice, and Grimaldi was sent to the box for a tripping penalty that gave BU a 4-on-3 advantage.

The Terriers took advantage of that power play, when senior captain Garrett Noonan faked a shot to draw North Dakota goaltender Zane Gothberg to his knees and then snapped the puck through a screen into the top right corner of the net. It was Noonan’s third goal of the season, which is the most among BU’s defensemen.

North Dakota needed less than two minutes to respond though, as winger Bryn Chyzyk snapped a wrist shot from BU goaltender Matt O’Connor’s left through traffic and into the back of the net for his second goal of the season. The game was tied, but UND had the momentum and the majority of the puck possession through the first period.

The game remained tied until almost seven minutes into the second, when O’Regan slipped a pass through a defender’s legs and onto freshman winger Nick Roberto’s stick. Roberto blasted a one-timer over Gothberg’s right shoulder and into the back of the net for his fourth goal of the season, and once again appeared to give BU some life. It was the Wakefield native’s third consecutive game with a point since moving from center to wing, and he has recorded a point in six of his last seven games.

“Definitely the new line changes, I like a lot,” Roberto said. “I like the wing more than center. I feel more comfortable on that side.”

Again though, North Dakota responded quickly thanks to its dominance of puck possession. North Dakota junior Stephane Pattyn, who had already made his mark on the game with several big hits and extra jabs in the game, finished off a pass from linemate Michael Parksin close to O’Connor for his second goal of the season. The goal left UND tied with the Terriers through the first two periods in spite of its 30-13 shot advantage.

With senior winger Jake Moscatel in the penalty box for charging in the third period, North Dakota finally jumped out to its first lead of the game. Junior Brendan O’Donnell faked a shot before firing the puck over to wide-open freshman Adam Tambellini, who had no trouble giving UND the 3-2 lead.

It was the Terriers who responded this time though. Junior forward Evan Rodrigues tried to pass the puck across the slot on the rush, but the puck bounced off a North Dakota defender and over to freshman center Robbie Baillargeon, who touched the puck into the back of the net to tie the score. Freshman defenseman Dalton MacAfee was credited with the secondary assist on the play, which was good for his first collegiate point, and the game was tied at three.

Each team had a couple of good scoring chances on the rush in overtime, but neither could break the tie. BU was outshot 58-31 in the contest, which is the worst shot differential it has had this season. The minus-27 margin even beat out the minus-25 shot margin it had in its 2-1 loss at the University of Michigan.

Part of the reason for the dismal shot margin was the amount of Terrier shots that missed the net. BU missed 24 of the 66 shots it attempted throughout the contest, which was something Quinn singled out as a big problem.

“It’s a youth hockey mentality,” Quinn said. “It’s just, ‘I’m just going to pick top corner, bar and in.’ If you’re doing that, you wouldn’t be in this league.

“We have just got to do a better job of understanding and taking the opportunities that are given to us and understanding the value of getting a puck on the net.”

Live blog: Terriers look for weekend sweep in tilt with North Dakota

Time/location (TV): 7:00 pm., Agganis Arena (NESN)

BU lines:
Matt Lane – Danny O’Regan – Nick Roberto
Tommy Kelley – Robbie Baillargeon – Evan Rodrigues
Mike Moran – Dillon Lawrence – Kevin Duane
Jake Moscatel – T.J. Ryan – Matt Ronan

Ahti Oksanen – Garrett Noonan
Matt Grzelcyk – Dalton MacAfee
Doyle Somerby – Patrick MacGregor

Matt O’Connor
Sean Maguire
Anthony Moccia

North Dakota lines:
Brendan O’Donnell – Drake Caggiula – Rocco Grimaldi
Stephane Pattyn – Luke Johnson – Michael Parks
Gage Ausmus – Connor Gaarder – Andrew Panzarella
Bryn Chyzyk – Adam Tambellini – Wade Murphy

Dillon Simpson – Jordan Schmaltz
Nick Mattson – Paul LaDue
Keaton Thompson – Troy Stetcher

Zane Gothberg
Clarke Saunders

Referees: Scott Hansen, Kevin Shea
Assistant Referees: Brendan Blanchard, Marc Sullivan

Live blog:

Pluses and Minuses: First period success leads way in BU win over North Dakota

By Meredith Perri/DFP Sports
For the first time in a month, the Boston University men’s hockey team found the back of the net in the opening frame of a game. The goal, scored by sophomore wing Cason Hohmann, showed a change in the Terriers shooting mentality. Just moments later, however, the improvement in BU’s aggressiveness fell to the wayside for a moment as University of North Dakota wing Wade Murphy tripped Hohmann, aggravating the Terrier’s lingering shoulder injury.
While Hohmann’s set back left a down mark on the game, BU went on to win Friday evening, as it defeated North Dakota 3-1 at Agganis Arena in front of a crowd of 3,882.
“He shot the puck”
BU coach David Quinn has talked in the past about the Terriers’ shooting mentality, or rather, the lack thereof.
While Quinn has said on multiple occasions that he cannot account for why BU’s offensive production has predominantly occurred in the second period, he said that the team’s ability to get on the board early on Friday had to do with a proper shooting mindset and not slowing down.
“The thing [Hohmann] didn’t do is slow down entering the offensive zone, and that can happen a lot,” Quinn said of BU’s first tally. “We had a three-on-one, and we slowed down and all of a sudden you’re allowing back pressure and the defender can read the situation. When you’re moving your feet you become less predictable, and you create more offense.”
Third straight start
Sophomore netminder Matt O’Connor will get the start Saturday night in the tail end of the series against North Dakota, marking the first time this season that either O’Connor or his counterpart Sean Maguire will start two games in a weekend.
Although North Dakota struggled to get shots in close during Friday’s game, O’Connor stymied the UND offense multiple times, including a few late in the period when North Dakota pulled its goalie for the extra man.
“ I thought he stood his ground,” Quinn said. “He didn’t sag, he was strong, he understood where the net was. There was no panic in his game… it’s tough to find a hole when you’re that size.”
Another Duane power-play goal
About five minutes into the third period, with the Terriers holding onto a 2-0 lead, freshman wing Kevin Duane picked up a rebound and notched it into the a nearly wide open net. The goal, his third of the season, and his second straight scored on the power play, gave BU some insurance early in the final frame of play.
For more on Duane’s performance, head over to Kevin’s sidebar here.
A hurt Hohmann
Obviously the biggest draw back from tonight’s game was when Hohmann injured his shoulder just after registering his third goal of the season. The 5-foot-9 wing looked as though he tried to avoid going into the boards on the hit by Murphy, but it was to no avail.
Within seconds of going down on the ice, he popped back up grabbing onto his left arm and screaming toward the bench. He quickly skated off the ice and went down the tunnel.
“He’s had issues with [his left shoulder] all year,” Quinn said. “We talked going into this game how this may be a reoccurring problem with him, and sure enough, before the first period ends, he gets hit pretty good and the thing pops out and he’s done for the night.
“We’re not surprised, but hopefully we’ll have a clearer picture this week of what his long-term is going to be.”
One shy of a shutout
For the second straight contest, O’Connor gave up a goal in the final frame, just missing his chance to pick up his first shutout of the season.
“Hoping he gets a shutout sometime,” Quinn said. “It’s the second game in a row where that happens to him, and you know we’ll see him again tomorrow night.”
Against the University of Connecticut last Sunday, that goal came about four minutes into the third. On Friday, it came with less than three minutes left in the game.
“I feel like after that goal, I’m still hungry for another game,” O’Connor said.
The Toronto native has not recorded a shutout during his time at BU.

Kevin Duane scores again, continues to settle into role on power play

By Kevin Dillon/DFP Staff

The moment the puck moved back to the point, freshman forward Kevin Duane knew exactly where to go. The 6-foot-5, 210 pound winger anticipated the shot from sophomore defenseman Matt Grzelcyk and did what he does best — get to the front of the net.

University of North Dakota goaltender Clarke Saunders saw little else besides the No. 18 on Duane’s back as the puck caromed off of his outstretched pad and into an open space to the right of the goal. Saunders had no shot to recover, as Duane simply scooped the rebound up and put it into the gaping net.

The goal helped give the Boston University men’s hockey team some insurance in its 3-1 win over No. 14/15 North Dakota Friday night at Agganis Arena, and it was the result of Duane’s increasing success at his role on BU’s power play.

“He’s got great reach obviously, does a good job screening the goalie, quick in small areas, understands what his role is,” said BU coach David Quinn. “That was a big goal for us.”
It was the second game in a row that Duane has scored a power-play goal. Sunday night against the University of Connecticut, Duane once again found himself in front of the net on the power play, and this time deflected the puck into the back of the net before the rebound opportunity.

For Duane, he is not trying to create his own shot on the power play like the players who move the puck around the outside of the offensive zone. Duane is playing a role that the Terriers used sophomore winger Sam Kurker in during the end of last season and the first few games of the season.

“For the most part I’m just trying to take away the goalie’s eyes and just make sure that when Grzelcyk and Rodrigues get shots from the point they get through and the goalie doesn’t see it,” Duane said. “The last couple games I have been able to find the rebound and get a goal out of it.”

With Friday’s goal, Duane matched sophomore defenseman Ahti Oksanen and junior winger Cason Hohmann’s team best two power-play goals on the season. His efforts have helped boost BU’s power-play percentage to 22.0 percent on the season, which is good for second-best in the league. The team’s power play has produced 37.9 percent of its goals on the season, making it an integral part of their offense.

Duane has not limited his improved play to the power play though. He has been a part of a line that features fellow freshman Dillon Lawrence and sophomore Mike Moran that has been very impressive as of late. Quinn put the unit together last Friday night at the University of Maine as a fourth line, but it impressed him enough to keep the trio together and increase its ice time over the past two games.

While none of the three have scored a 5-on-5 goal yet, it has been good at keeping puck possession in the offensive zone. One would expect the unit to remain intact for Saturday night’s rematch with North Dakota.

However, with Hohmann injuring his shoulder in Friday night’s game and expected to be out “for a while” according to Quinn, there is more opportunity for the freshmen wingers like Duane, Tommy Kelley, Brendan Collier and TJ Ryan to see the ice and get scoring chances. If Duane keeps playing the way he has as of late, he could help fill a serious void in the Terriers’ offense.

“This is going to be another opportunity for freshmen to continue to take advantage of opportunities and playing time and hopefully they can continue to flourish,” Quinn said.