Pluses and Minuses: BC prevails over BU in overtime, claims Beanpot championship

Jordan Greenway. PHOTO BY MADDIE MALHOTRA/DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF
Jordan Greenway. PHOTO BY MADDIE MALHOTRA/DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF

None from the current crop of players on the No. 7 Boston University men’s hockey team was on the 2012 BU team that lost to Boston College in the Beanpot championship in overtime.

This year’s seniors were still a few months removed from Commonwealth Avenue when BC forward Bill Arnold scored the game-winning goal at TD Garden.

But four years later, this year’s team is pretty engrained in the Beanpot tradition, and now well acquainted with a similar heartbreak.

A scoreless, physical game throughout Monday night, No. 3 BC finally broke through 1:57 into overtime when Alex Tuch wristed home the first and only goal, defeating BU 1-0 in the Beanpot title game.

BC (20-4-4, 11-1-4 Hockey East) has now won the Beanpot five times in the last six years.

“Certainly an exciting game for everybody in the stands, and the last two periods it was a competitive hockey game,” said BU head coach David Quinn. “That’s what people expect when they see BU and BC play, and up-and-down action, both teams had great chances in the second and the third, they certainly had a majority of the chances in the first and we felt very fortunate to get out 0-0 after one.”

It was scoreless for almost 62 minutes, but that’s not to say there isn’t a lot to talk about. We’ll break this one down in this Beanpot championship Pluses and Minuses.

Minuses

Untimely screen

Senior netminder Sean Maguire was on his game throughout the title game and really the entire Beanpot Tournament. BC had a good deal of chances throughout the first three periods of the game, but Maguire stood on his head just about every time.

One of the few times Maguire didn’t see the puck, though, things went wrong for BU (16-8-4, 9-4-3 Hockey East). After both teams tried to get their legs back at the beginning of overtime, the Eagles got the first real opportunity about two minutes in and made it count.

As Tuch skated into the high slot area, BU’s defense tried to contain him before he could shoot, but the bodies standing in front of Maguire caused an unintentional screen, setting up an unpleasant result.

“I think if I saw all of it I would’ve stopped it,” Maguire said after the game. “But he [Tuch] made a great shot, and the shot crossed body post in. That’s a pro-level shot.”

Slog of a start

Against a rival like BC, and in a game of importance such as this one, it’s generally pertinent to get things started in the first period on the right foot. The Terriers, however, did not have one of their better opening periods on Monday night.

One thing that stands out right away on the shot chart is the fact that BC not only attempted 32 shots in the opening stanza, but a majority of them came in the slot and home plate area. Life was not easy for Maguire, to say the least.

BU was mostly kept to the outside of the faceoff circles and did not really kick things into gear until the second period.

Sloppy play, Greenway to the box

For anyone who’s watched a BU-BC, you know it can get chippy and downright nasty during and after the play. This one was no different, especially on the BU end of things.

Freshman forward Jordan Greenway seemed to be in the middle of it all on Monday, drawing the ire from a lot of the BC contingent in the arena.

Greenway was involved in a play in the third period in which BC goalie Thatcher Demko was knocked down for a few minutes, and he also drew three penalties during one scrum in the second period, including a 10-minute misconduct. BU killed off all of the penalty time, but was without Greenway’s presence until early in the third period.

“Well certainly missed him, but I thought we continued to play a pretty good second period,” Quinn said. “…But any time you’re missing a guy who’s 6 foot 5, 230 pounds against that team with the big, strong D corps that they have for an extended period of time, it’s not going to help you, that’s for sure, but I don’t think that had anything to do with the outcome of the game.”

Power outage

BU’s offense could not muster a goal in what turned to be Demko’s ninth shutout of the season (a new single-season BC record), but the real issue tonight was the lighting at TD Garden.

With 8:53 to play in the first period, the main lights above the ice slowly dimmed and then turned out. The teams skated around the ice to stay loose, but were eventually sent back to their respective dressing rooms. The situation was finally resolved after nearly 30 minutes, but it took longer than a normal intermission to get the lights up and running.

BC head coach Jerry York said after the game said both teams were offered the chance to play a 29-minute second period instead of finishing the first, but York said he and Quinn declined the opportunity.

Pluses 

Maguire nearly perfect

We’ve mentioned it in this article a few times already, but Maguire was good in this one — really good.

He kept BU in the game with 23-first period saves and finished with 41 stops on 42 chances. Maguire, for the tournament, saved 65 shots on 67 opportunities for a .970 save percentage. He wouldn’t carry the Beanpot trophy, but he did earn Beanpot MVP and the Eberly Award for the highest save percentage in the tournament.

The only two goaltenders to have a higher single-tournament save percentage than Maguire were former BU netminders John Curry (.985) and Rick DiPietro (.981).

Sarah will have more on Maguire’s stellar performance in her sidebar.

Mid-game adjustments

The first period was not one BU will be writing home about anytime soon. The rest of the game, especially from a defensive standpoint, the Terriers did a much better job in their own end.

BU pushed the Eagles to the perimeter and limited the number of “Grade-A” opportunities they could get on net. By game’s end, the total shot attempts were closer than the first period may have indicated, with BC holding a slight 68-62 edge.

“…I thought in the second and third period we did a much better job of being decisive and just making a decision and doing it with conviction,” Quinn said, “and that made everybody else’s job easier and that’s why you saw the dramatic drop in shots and scoring chances and made it a hockey game.”

Pluses and Minuses: No. 9 Terriers cruise past UMass

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Freshman wing Jordan Greenway. PHOTO BY MADDIE MALHOTRA/DFP FILE PHOTO

AMHERST — On Friday night, the No. 9 Boston University men’s hockey team took the ice at the Mullins Center three days before its upcoming Beanpot championship game.

But before the Terriers (16-7-4, 9-4-3 Hockey East) could shift their focus to No. 4 Boston College, they had to face the University of Massachusetts Amherst in an important league game.

BU scored four goals in the first period en route to an eventual 6-3 win over the Minutemen (7-17-4, 2-12-4 Hockey East), extending BU’s winning streak to five games.

“I liked our focus, I thought we were ready from the drop of the puck,” said BU head coach David Quinn. “I thought we kind of let the score and situation maybe at times dictate our commitment and our honest effort, but I thought we responded when we needed to.”

Here’s what we liked in the Terriers’ win.

Pluses

Fourth line

BU’s fourth line of sophomore winger Chase Phelps, senior center Mike Moran and junior forward Tommy Kelley accounted for two of the Terriers’ six goals and four of their 15 points on the evening. Andrew has more about the trio’s success in his sider.

Scoring depth

It’s been a trend for the Terriers this year, especially as of late, but BU got goals from all throughout the lineup on Friday night. Three of four lines registered markers and at least one player on each d-pair had a point as well.

“It’s nice when you spread it around …” Quinn said. “Any time you can do that, you get a better chance to win. You don’t want to be a one-line team, and we’re certainly not that right now, so it’s nice to get contributions from those guys and, again, if you’re gonna go places, you need depth and you need everybody contributing, and we certainly did that tonight.”

Jordan Greenway

In his third multi-point game this season, freshman wing Jordan Greenway found the back of the net twice for his third and fourth goals of the year. Greenway now has at least one point in four of his past five games and has posted a 2-5—7 scoring line in that time.

“Obviously it’s a nice feeling,” he said of his two-goal effort. “I really worked on scoring in practice this week, but I just worked hard down low and it just paid off.”

Greenway added that his two senior linemates, assistant captain Matt Lane and forward Ahti Oksanen, have taught him “little things” that they’ve learned in their time at BU.

“They always tell me to have more of a shooting mentality,” he said. “…It’s just been a great time with those two line mates. They’ve really helped me out a lot.”

Oskar Andrén

Freshman winger Oskar Andrén was rewarded for his increasingly good play on Friday night in the form of his first collegiate goal and what would be the game-winning tally. Andrén ripped the puck in the slot and roofed it over goalie Nic Renyard to put BU up 4-1 at the end of the first period.

“It’s nice to see him get rewarded with a goal,” Quinn said.

Sarah and Andrew weren’t late

While I wasn’t late to the game at Mullins Center last season (I actually made it in time for warmups!), Sarah, Andrew and our old pal Conor Ryan were kept from Amherst by some pretty heavy Columbus Day traffic. This year, however, we all got there on time and had a blast, woo!

Minuses

Penalty kill

The penalty kill was not a bright point in BU’s game Friday, but it wasn’t necessarily as bad as the stat sheet said either. UMass scored two of its three goals on the power play even though the Minutemen “didn’t really have much going on that,” according to Quinn, and the coach added he “didn’t think [BU was] as bad as giving up two out of three opportunities reflects.”

He said maybe being on the Olympic-sized ice had something to do with it, but affirmed that it’s something the Terriers need to work on and that it’s seemed that “when [they’re] off, [they’re] off.”

“I didn’t think we cleared pucks the way we need to, just not really paying attention, systematically just understanding what our responsibilities are,” Quinn said. “We got a little bit sloppy, roaming around a little bit too much, not stopping and starting. We’ve got to work on that.”

The goal that shouldn’t have been

As mentioned before, UMass was pretty prolific on the power play Friday, scoring its first two goals of the game on the man advantage. The opening marker for the Minutemen, however, probably shouldn’t have counted.

About seven minutes into the first period, with bodies in front, senior goaltender Sean Maguire looked to have successfully saved and held onto the puck and so the officials blew the whistle, signaling that play was dead. However, forward Ray Pigozzi finished off the play and put the puck in the back of the net, which prompted the refs to call it a goal. After reviewing the play, the officiating crew determined it was a good goal, despite having blown the whistle prior to it being scored.

“I mean, it should not have been a goal,” Quinn said. “The whistle was blown, everybody in the building knew it.”

Tailing off

It tends to happen when teams are facing a large deficit, but as the game progressed, it appeared that the Minutemen began to drive play a bit more than the Terriers did. After outshooting UMass 14-6 in the first period, BU was outshot for the remaining 40 minutes by a 27-20 margin. Total shot attempts were relatively even for the final two periods, with the Terriers holding a slight 43-41 advantage, but Quinn said they “tailed off a little bit.”

“Lost a little bit of focus, but attribute some of that to the way UMass played,” he said. “They never quit, tough when you’re down 3-0 then 4-1 after one, but they kept coming at us.”

“I thought we had a chance to put them away a few times and we just didn’t do it,” he added. “We let them hang around.”

Pluses and Minuses: No. 9 Terriers notch 3rd consecutive win

Danny O'Regan. PHOTO BY MADDIE MALHOTRA/DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF
Danny O’Regan. PHOTO BY MADDIE MALHOTRA/DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF

No. 9 Boston University men’s hockey head coach David Quinn praised his team last weekend for giving full, 60-minute efforts in two wins over the University of Maine.

Those are the kind of games, he said, that are needed down the stretch drive as points become even more valuable. Even against a team like Merrimack College, one that had lost nine in a row coming into Friday, the Terriers would need another complete performance.

In another wire-to-wire effort, the Terriers (14-7-4, 8-4-3 Hockey East) shut out Merrimack, 4-0, with the combined efforts of two netminders, senior Sean Maguire and sophomore Connor LaCouvee.

Four different Terriers scored en route to BU’s third consecutive win and fourth game in a row which the team has earned at least a point.

“I thought we played smart hockey, we possessed it, we didnt turn the puck over,” Quinn said, “a lot of good things and a tough game to play, tough game to play.”

We’ll take a look at the good, the bad and the straight up weird in this Pluses and Minuses.

Pluses 

Lane at the top

We’re going to go out on a limb and assume not many people had Matt Lane as their preseason pick to be the team leader in goals.

But as of the end of this game, that’s where Lane finds himself, though he is technically tied with his classmate, winger Ahti Oksanen.

A week after Maine head coach Red Gendron said his team had “no answer” for Lane and his linemates, Lane scored his 14th goal of the season about halfway through the third period of this one, getting his own rebound and tapping the puck past Merrimack (7-14-5, 2-8-5 Hockey East) goaltender Collin Delia.

The goal was one portion of his three-point night, the second straight game that Lane has recorded three points. In his last four outings, Lane is averaging two points per game.

A lot of what Lane has done to get better in the goal department, according to Quinn, is the fact that he is adding more practice time to his shooting.

“Well, number one, he skates so well,” Quinn said. “Two, he’s really worked on his shot, he’s scored some goal-scorer’s goals. He can really snap it, he gets it off quick, he understands you gotta get inside the hash marks to create some offense and it’s great to see him get rewarded.

“I mean, 14 goals for him is a heck of a senior year.”

Oksanen’s milestone 

Speaking of the other skater with 14 goals, Oksanen added his latest tally at the 18:42 mark of the third period, BU’s fourth and final goal.

But the goal, in the grand scheme of the game, was irrelevant. However, for Oksanen, it was more than just stat-padder.

The empty-netter was Oksanen’s 50th-career goal in the BU uniform, a pretty impressive feat considering the fact that he was a full-time defenseman at this time two years ago. He also joins senior assistant captain Danny O’Regan as the second Terrier to reach the half-century mark in career goals this season.

For as much as he shoots the puck — both during games and practice — Oksanen makes it work and continues to be a force any time he touches the puck in the offensive zone.

Seniors stand out 

If it hasn’t been apparent already, the big takeaway from this game was the fact that the seniors played well.

Four elder statesmen (Lane, Oksanen, O’Regan and captain Matt Grzelcyk) combined for six points in the win. O’Regan’s lone point of the night came on a shorthanded attempt in the second period where he took the puck from center ice and broke all alone on goal, beating Delia up high.

“Danny played great tonight, had a lot of energy in the third period,” Quinn said, “him and Matt Lane I thought had really good third periods and, again, your seniors, your seniors have to deliver and three of them get goals tonight so good night for them.”

In the crease, Maguire made all the stops he needed to (27 total), including 10 on Merrimack power-play chances. But that’s only a smidgen of what happened with Maguire tonight. More on that in the minuses…

Minuses 

Bad break for Maguire

Early in the first period during a Merrimack rush, Maguire didn’t quite look himself. It wasn’t the fact that he wasn’t stopping the puck, but he couldn’t move from post-to-post with the quickness that he normally has.

But it was no fault of his own. In an unfortunate incident, his skate blade somehow popped off, and he was forced to come out of the game for a 5:49 stretch to get it fixed.

In that brief span, Maguire not only lost his bid for a shutout (he would have had to have played the full game), but he also lost his chance for a win. Junior forward Robbie Baillargeon scored what turned out to be the decisive goal, which gave LaCouvee the victory.

Sarah has more about this “peculiar” situation in her sidebar.

Penalties add up, power play fails to convert 

It wasn’t as if the BU penalty kill wasn’t good, as it went a perfect 6-for-6 for the evening.

But the fact that the Terriers took six penalties in one game is definitely on the negative side. The second period could have gotten out of hand, with the Warriors garnering seven shots on net.

BU’s power play had ample opportunity to get an extra-man goal, but went 0-for-4. Going back to the Terriers’ 1-1 tie with No. 5 Boston College, BU is 1-for-18 on the power play.

Quinn held no secrets about his feelings toward the power-play unit on Friday.

“Didn’t like it,” Quinn said. “Not surprised we didn’t have success. Just, we’re too slow. We’re too methodical, we’re too slow, there’s no pace to our power play right now, which is kind of funny because it was clicking at a great pace when we came back from Christmas but we’re just, we don’t have a shooter’s mentality, we don’t pass it quick enough.

“Other than that, it’s unbelievable.”

Pluses and Minuses: No. 11 Terriers turn in six full periods of work in finishing sweep of Maine

PHOTO BY MADDIE MALHOTRA/DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF
PHOTO BY MADDIE MALHOTRA/DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF

In an overall commanding performance on Saturday night at Agganis Arena, the No. 11 Boston University men’s hockey team defeated its conference foe in the University of Maine.

The Terriers (13-7-4, 7-4-3 Hockey East) earned their second series sweep of the season in a 6-1 win over the Black Bears (5-15-6, 2-8-2 Hockey East) after besting them the night prior as well.

“I thought that we really came to play for six periods this weekend,” said BU head coach David Quinn. “We were skating, we were pressuring the puck, and had an urgency to our game. The thing we’re trying to do is make teams earn ice. And I thought we did a pretty good job of that this weekend.”

Here’s a look at what we thought went right and wrong in this edition of pluses and minuses.

Pluses

Bobo Carpenter

Since he was moved back to his natural position of center, freshman forward Bobo Carpenter has definitely shown improvement in terms of production and comfortability on the ice. Andrew has more about this in his sider from tonight.

Six full periods

With some wins this season coming from one or two dominant periods in a game as opposed to a game-long effort, making sure BU is giving its all for the entirety of a contest has become more and more of a focus. As Quinn and his players put it, the Terriers made a conscious attempt to put together two full 60-minute efforts on the weekend.

“We kept our heads in the game,” Carpenter said. “We definitely focused down, and we wanted to play 60 minutes both games, and we didn’t want to let them take control of the game at any part of the weekend.”

While a 5-2 win on Friday and a 6-1 victory on Saturday don’t indicate any sort of lack of control on the Terriers’ part, there was definitely a larger divergence in the latter game of the series. Statistically, where BU and Maine were mostly even on the stat sheet aside from actual goals put in the net, Saturday showed a clearer distinction in all facets. However, senior assistant captain Matt Lane said the team didn’t sense much of a difference from night to night.

“Yesterday’s game we kind of, we felt the same way,” he said. “Both games we skated, both games we were physical. Unfortunately they capitalized on a couple power-play goals [on Friday], not that our penalty kill was too bad, they were opportunistic. But like I said, for the most part, six periods, we felt that we were fast, we felt that we were physical, and that’s why we controlled both games, all six periods.”

Carpenter mentioned that the more hostile atmosphere in Alfond Arena made it difficult for the Terriers, but they were able to hunker down and stay focused and get the win. On Saturday at Agganis, where those in the stands were a little more supportive, “it made it a little bit easier to calm the nerves down” as well.

Lane added that, at this point in the season in the Hockey East standings, “it’s time to buckle down” and “string together some wins.” The Terriers know what they’re capable of, he said, and felt they weren’t meeting their standards so they turned the focus to themselves and not the team they are playing against. With a critical eye on its own game, then, BU was able to play “maybe the first weekend” of six full periods start to finish.

This winger has a first name, it’s O-s-k-a-r
OK, horrible subheading aside, freshman forward Oskar Andrén, while hardly looking out of place in his first couple games, has showcased his skills more and more each time he’s on the ice. On Saturday, the winger had a pair of assists (his first collegiate points), recorded a shot on goal and took part in special teams play, too.

“He’s played very well,” Quinn said. “For a guy to come in here less than a month ago and have the impact that he’s had on our lineup, and I was really happy to see him get rewarded on the scoresheet tonight. He’s a really smart player. Works hard, smart, good vision, he’s really made an impact for us.”

Doyle Somerby

The de facto game-winning goal in Saturday’s game was scored by junior defenseman Doyle Somerby. It wasn’t a blast from the point with a screen in front like a lot of blue liner goals are. Instead, Somerby stole the puck from defenseman Sam Becker behind the Maine goal line and tucked it wraparound style through goaltender Rob McGovern’s five hole for his fourth goal of the season.

“In general and all year, Doyle’s been a little more aggressive,” Lane said. “In the past he’s been more defensive, and this year he’s stepped up. He’s trusting his legs more, and you can kind of tell like that, he just had it in his gut that he was going to win that battle and take it to the net.

“Those are the kind of things that we need as a team, and it’s great to see Doyle getting some goals this year.”

Minuses

I mean…it snowed? No, in all seriousness, there was very little to dislike about BU’s performance on Saturday.

The Terriers limited Maine to just 23 shots while taking 37 of their own, were perfect on the penalty kill, allowed just one goal, held a 35-20 advantage in faceoffs and did damage on the power play. They looked poised and in control throughout and netted five-plus goals for the fourth time in six games.

They’re not giving me a whole lot to pick at today.

Pluses and Minuses: Fourth, second lines shine, penalty kill continues to struggle against Maine

ORONO, Maine — The No. 11 Boston University men’s hockey team got back in the win column with a 5-2 victory over the University of Maine on Friday evening at Alfond Arena.

Two goals and two assists from senior forward Ahti Oksanen and three assists from freshman forward Jordan Greenway stole the show for BU, but there were quite a few more things we took away from the game. Behold, another edition of pluses and minuses:

Pluses

Fourth line

It was mostly cool tonight to see the team’s fourth line — comprised tonight of sophomore Chase Phelps, senior Mike Moran and junior Tommy Kelley — really get in the action tonight. Moran finally notched his first goal of the season at the 12:16 mark of the second period. They were one of the most active lines early, especially.

“I thought they played very well,” said BU head coach David Quinn. “They were physical, they possessed the puck, they kept simple, they got some scoring chances, there was a lot of good things with that line tonight.”

With an injury to sophomore forward Nikolas Olsson, that gave a chance to Kelley to work his way into the lineup, and we’re consistently wowed with his effort. We’ve compared him to former Terrier forward Cason Hohmann before, and we saw that again tonight, in terms of just putting his head down and using his speed to keep up with the play and keep Maine fooled.

“Just play hard, play fast,” Kelley said about how he’s trying to make his way into this lineup. “Take the body, move the puck quick, get it to the net, take pucks to the net. Just stand out in any way I can.”

Second line, too
Everyone had a lot of nice things to say about the second line tonight, too, with Oksanen, senior assistant captain Matt Lane and Greenway taking charge offensively. Judy has more about that in her sidebar tonight.

Settling down

Maine might have hands down the best fans I’ve seen all season. I missed the trip to Orono last season, so this was my first time witnessing the Maine student section in all its glory. And full props to them, they’re certainly something between their chants and antics. It could have been an intimidating environment, but BU quieted things early with a goal from senior captain Matt Grzelcyk 14:19 into the first period.

“I guess you kind of expect that, coming into a building like this, with the students they have, pretty loud, pretty crazy,” Kelley said. “So I think we fended that off pretty well, and then turned it up pretty quick, which is good. Grizzy got that goal, which was huge. So I think that really helped.”

Red Gendron

Maine head coach Red Gendron might be one of our favorite coaches in Hockey East, because he loves to tell it how it is in his postgame press conferences. And basically, this was such a great quote we felt the need to highlight it specifically. In response to whether he was concerned about the quick turnaround of the home-and-home, he said:

“No, because the other team has the same situation as us. If we had to travel and they could be warped to Boston, like Star Trek stuff, then I’d be concerned, but it seems to me we’re both going to be riding down I-95.”

(I grew up in a bit of a “Star Trek”-obsessed household, so I’m a bit sentimental here more than anything.)

Minuses

Penalty kill
Both of Maine’s goals tonight were power-play goals. BU entered the game ranked just 33rd in penalty-kill percentage (.818), and Friday’s showing wasn’t much more encouraging in that regard.

“Obviously we’ve got to tighten things up on the penalty kill,” Quinn said. “We can’t be giving up two power-play goals, unfortunate from that perspective.”

Defense: Still a giant question mark
Sophomore defenseman John MacLeod, by our unofficial tally, missed a good portion of the second period and all of the third period because he was benched by Quinn.

When I asked him about that reasoning, he responded, “I just liked the way the other five guys were going. And just…” then he was cut off by an unrelated question from another reporter.

The benching happened after MacLeod let up way too easy of a chance for Maine while on the penalty kill, and didn’t stick with the play, giving forward Cam Brown all the room in the world to score.

As a side note before we get going: I haven’t really given senior goaltender Sean Maguire his due in this post. He certainly bailed out his team yet again with his 32 saves.

We’ve talked about this a bit previously, but it looks like that sixth defenseman spot is really just being switched off between MacLeod and sophomore Brien Diffley, while freshman defenseman Shane Switzer — who, again, is a sufficient option on the blue line, as we’ve defended many times on this blog — is stuck in no man’s land. I wouldn’t even go as far to say the other five regulars have been stellar, either, as there were some ugly, ugly turnovers throughout the game Friday.

But it seems pretty much based on the pattern to this point that those five core guys will play, unless there’s injury, and MacLeod or Diffley will be the sixth guy. I also asked Quinn about the sixth spot being switched off between subpar play from MacLeod and Diffley, and whether he thinks that’s a tangible solution going forward.

“I don’t think about that,” he said. “I don’t know, whoever plays well is going to play.”

I can possibly understand the reasoning behind not playing Switzer, to the extent that MacLeod and Diffley are older and have played more at BU. As in, I understand that that’s a possible thought. It doesn’t necessarily mean that’s defensible reasoning. Of course, I don’t see practice on a daily basis, and I don’t know what Quinn’s standards are for “playing well.” But there’s absolutely nothing we’ve seen from his limited game play that indicates Switzer is a worse option.

At this point, there’s no way Switzer isn’t a better option than benching a guy midway through a game and overexerting five defensemen that have already taken a bit of a step back this season. It’s mostly just frustrating, overall, to see what was supposed to be this team’s absolute biggest strength this year turn into such a gigantic question mark — and to see the same patterns continue, game after game, with limited change.

Pluses and Minuses: No. 4 BC nets late goal, No. 10 Terriers settle for tie

PHOTO BY MADDIE MALHOTRA/DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF
PHOTO BY MADDIE MALHOTRA/DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF

David Quinn said it was typical of a Boston University-Boston College game. Jerry York said it capped off a “good college hockey weekend.”

The standings will say it was a tie.

In about as evenly matched a game as you’ll see, No. 10 BU and No. 4 BC skated to a 1-1 tie in the second game of a home-and-home series.

The Terriers gained a lead midway through the second period with a goal from senior captain Matt Grzelcyk and looked poised to come away with a win, but BC forward Ryan Fitzgerald knotted things up with a bar-down strike with 2:05 left in the third period.

Back-and-forth action with a lot of chippy play made this one a fun and exciting one to watch. We’ll break down the 65 minutes in this Pluses and Minuses.

Pluses 

Oh captain my captain

Injuries have limited Grzelcyk to just 10 games this year — less than half of BU’s total number.

But that’s been really the only thing getting in the way of BU’s (11-7-4, 5-4-3 Hockey East) captain, because when he’s been on the ice, he’s been a solid force at the blue line.

With the game scoreless on Saturday night, Grzelcyk was in perfect position to redirect a shot from senior assistant captain Danny O’Regan past Thatcher Demko. It was Grzelcyk’s seventh goal of the season and 12th point in his 10 games played.

He played well on the defensive side, too, staying on his assignments and closing any gaps. Now that Grzelcyk’s getting healthier and more playing time, Quinn said he’ll continue to be a force on both ends of the ice.

“I think he’s the best defenseman in college hockey,” Quinn said, “and when you add that to your lineup, you have a whole different look and I don’t know what our record is with him but I bet it’s a lot better than without him so he makes everybody on that D corps better, he makes everybody up front better and we’re just glad to have him.”

Maguire stands tall

Not much separated senior goaltender Sean Maguire from a shutout, but a well-placed BC (15-4-3, 8-1-3, Hockey East) screen and shot ended any chance of that. But that’s not to say Maguire didn’t play well.

The senior was in good position all night, making a few terrific saves to stop BC odd-man rushes. In all, Maguire finished with 38 saves. Sarah will have more on his game in her sidebar.

Penalty kill comes through 

Less than 22 hours after a power-play goal decided Friday night’s fate, the Terriers got a chance to right the ship on the penalty kill.

Freshman forward Jordan Greenway and sophomore defenseman John MacLeod were called for successive penalties halfway through the first period, and BU was forced to kill of an extended 5-on-3. The penalty-unit came up big, as it did the other three times on the night, going 5-for-5.

It wasn’t as if BC didn’t have chances on goal (eight power-play shots), but the Terriers limited grade-A shots, and the ones that were good opportunities, Maguire was generally there to make the stops.

“I liked the fact that we backchecked a lot,” Quinn said, “we did a better job coming back and they didn’t get as much out of it as last night so baby steps and they’re a fast team, that’s the strength of their team, their speed up front and they work hard so we’re a work in progress and I thought we did a lot of good things tonight.”

Minuses 

Making it tough on Maguire 

As noted before, Maguire was on his game from start to finish. However, his defense didn’t make his life easy. BC had numerous odd-man rushes — like the 2-on-1 in the second period that forward Colin White nearly scored on — and 39 total shots.

There were sequences in the game, which York even said afterward, where both teams sort of lost their way and let the opposition get good shots at the net. It wasn’t as if this happened the whole game, but if Maguire hadn’t been playing so well, the score might have been different.

0-fer on the power play

BU’s penalty kill was good and BC’s matched up just as well.

Like the Eagles, BU had five opportunities with the man advantage but could not convert. The first two opportunities for the Terriers looked good, though they didn’t score. The problems came after those first two tries, as the Eagles made life tough in the neutral zone on BU entries.

The power play wasn’t awful, but a goal with a man up could have gone a long way.

Fortunato to the box… again

For 60 games, sophomore defenseman Brandon Fortunato never once sat in the penalty box. In back-to-back games against BC, Fortunato became much more acquainted with the sin bin.

Fortunato took his second penalty of his collegiate career on Saturday with a holding call in the second period.

“Yeah, he probably won’t dress next Friday,” Quinn said jokingly after the game. “I don’t know … the penalty he took tonight, that was a strange call, but we all make mistakes.”

Pluses and Minuses: BU struggles in transition, hampered by penalties in loss to BC

(Judy Cohen also helped write this.)

CHESTNUT HILL — After a back-and-forth matchup (My recap of the game is here), the Boston University men’s hockey team eventually fell to Boston College by a score of 5-3.

We anticipated it would be, as always, an entertaining game — and we certainly got that. There were a whole lot of takeaways from that game, too, and we’ve spelled out just some of the things we liked and didn’t like below.

Minuses

Neutral zone
While the game was relatively even for the most part when the sides weren’t utilizing their special teams units, there were elements to BU’s game that did give BC an advantage. For one thing, the Eagles had a pretty easy time in transition, skating through the neutral zone with relative ease and, at times, on odd-man rushes.

The defense was tight in the first period, said senior assistant captain Matt Lane, when things like that weren’t occurring. But as the game progressed, the Terriers got “sloppy.”

“We didn’t close the gap, we gave them too much space,” Lane added. “Offensively and defensively, there was just too much space in between our forecheck and our two defenders and they were just kinda airmailing pucks there and getting some odd-man rushes.”

Quinn said that the Eagles’ success in that area during the game came from the Terriers’ “poor puck management, puck-watching and being lazy.”

Lane said BU would take measures to eliminate that from its game heading into Saturday’s contest, beginning with skating more.

“When you skate, it usually takes care of all of those things, so if our D and our forwards are skating, we’ll have better gaps,” he continued. “We’ll come up and down the ice five as a unit, and we’ll eliminate those odd-man rushes.”

One step closer to 1,000
A couple months ago, the three of us here at the Boston Hockey Blog joked about Jerry York getting his 1,000th career win against BU. How fitting would that be?

At the time, we assumed he’d have passed 1,000 wins by the time this rivalry series rolled around, but after a 1-3-1 record in December, it became pretty clear that York would have a pretty good shot at 1,000 against the Terriers.

And he got just that much closer with his 999th win on Friday. If BC wins Saturday at Agganis Arena, then that’ll do it.

York insisted after Friday’s game that the win total was just a number and that he wasn’t paying particular attention to the accolade, but it’s not like it’s an insignificant accomplishment. It makes the stakes in Saturday’s game just that much higher, and while a sweep would be bad for BU anyway, this adds that much more pressure.

Fortunato
While it proved to be pretty insignificant in the grand scheme of the game, sophomore defenseman Brandon Fortunato did something Friday he hadn’t done in a college game before: He took a penalty.

Yep, after going an entire season last year, and 20 games this year, without recording a penalty, he ended that streak with a tripping call 9:50 into the first period. All good things must come to an end, I guess.

Penalties and special teams in general, sort of
BU was able to capitalize on three different power plays for goals, and special teams were basically the story of the evening. Judy has more about that in her sidebar.

Pluses

Ahti’s 100th
Though there were a bunch of things to dislike about the loss, one of the brighter spots was senior forward Ahti Oksanen getting his 100th collegiate point. The winger had 98 points coming into Friday night on 46 goals and 52 assists through 131 games.

In his 132nd, Oksanen recorded an assist on freshman center Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson’s first-period power-play goal for his 99th point and then got a power-play tally of his own in the second for his 100th.

“He’s a goal-scorer, always has been, always will be,” Lane said. “He shoots the puck, some guys like to say a little too much, but that’s his job. And I always tell him to keep shooting, and he knows he’s going to keep shooting, and that’s why he scores goals, and that’s why he’s got 100 points.”

JFK
As has become typical this season, Forsbacka Karlsson impressed during Friday night’s game. The freshman was one of three Terriers with multi-point efforts (the others being Oksanen and senior assistant captain Danny O’Regan), registering a goal in the first period and an assist in the second.

He also blocked a pair of shots and was, as usual, a large part of BU’s penalty kill. But his traits that don’t necessarily appear on the scoresheet were in full view as well, like his neutral-zone stick-lifts and overall play-making abilities.

He accounted for six of BU’s 49 total shot attempts and drew a penalty as well.

The BC and Conte Forum Experience
As some of our readers know already, we like to give props where props are due, especially when it comes to off-ice entertainment and accomplishments. And BC’s crew goes all out with its graphics and marketing. You can check out a lot of their .gifs and other graphics on their Twitter account. We especially liked this .gif with the team’s lineup.

BC’s intro video was as good as we’ve seen all year, and the mid-game hype videos were on point (anytime “Hotline Bling” is involved, we’re happy). On top of that, TD Garden organist Ron Poster was on hand at Conte for some live music to add to the experience. Overall, regardless of rooting interests, you can’t say that BC doesn’t know how to provide some great entertainment.

Pluses and Minuses: BU comfortably skates past UMass

The University of Massachusetts Amherst struck first on Saturday evening at Agganis Arena, but the Boston University men’s hockey team quickly righted the ship en route to a 7-2 win.

Senior defenseman Matt Grzelcyk stole the show and the World Juniors contingent impressed, serving as the highlights on a nearly seamless evening. Below are several positives and negatives from two crucial Hockey East points.

Pluses

Matt Grzelcyk

The Charlestown native scored a natural hat trick, showing how big of an impact he can have on this team. Read more about his influence in Judy’s sider.

Sean Maguire

After rattling off successive wins against Quinnipiac University and Harvard University, the Minutemen admittedly were going to pose a lesser threat in Maguire’s third straight start. 

Nonetheless, UMass still peppered the senior goaltender to the tune of 27 shots, and it took opportunistic finishes from Shane Walsh and Steven Iacobellis to light the lamp. There is no denying that Maguire is getting into a groove, and that bodes extremely well for the Terriers with Boston College on the horizon next weekend.

Just ask Grzelcyk, who has embarked on a collegiate journey with Maguire and rests easy knowing his classmate is between the pipes.

“Any time you get a goaltender who’s kind of hot right there, it kind of allows you to play more aggressively just knowing you have that confidence back there and he’s looked incredible in net, so we’re definitely happy to have him back,” he said.

Head coach David Quinn didn’t shy away from praise either, highlighting the rejuvenated goaltender’s gradual journey back to confidence and composure.

“He’s a guy, he can win big games,” Quinn said. “He’s proven that. We have the utmost confidence in him, and he proved that again tonight. I was so happy for him, he’s come a long way after going through a tough year last year with a concussion”

World Junior Foursome

Less than a week removed from the World Junior Championships in Finland, it’s already clear that Brandon Fortunato, Charlie McAvoy, Brandon Hickey and Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson have benefited from their international experience. 

JFK ignited the scoring onslaught with a heads-up play behind the net, Fortunato grabbed an assist on Grzelcyk’s second tally, McAvoy nabbed two helpers of his own and Hickey maintained a solid defensive gap throughout the contest.

That’s just what stands out about their respective nights, though. As anybody close to BU hockey will echo, all four play beyond their years and their importance becomes more tangible as the Terriers round into form.

“Those are four very good players,” Quinn said. “They wouldn’t be playing in that tournament if they weren’t, so they’re gonna get some well-needed rest in the next three or four days. That tournament is a grind, and without them here, we don’t win these games without question”

“We’re talking about three of our defensemen, and our number one centerman,” Quinn said. “They were immense over the last two games.”

Penalty Kill

When a team wins by five goals, it’s easy to overlook the small details that add up over the course of a hockey game. That’s exactly what can happen with a team’s penalty kill, and the Terriers took care of business in that department on Saturday night. 

UMass, which capitalizes on just 17.1 percent of its power plays, was kept off the board when it had a man advantage. To be exact, the Minutemen went 0-for-4 and were limited to only two shots on target across all eight minutes. 

Minuses

Another Slow Start

As mentioned above, BU fell into yet another early hole, letting their opponent grab an early lead that could’ve gotten out of hand if not for some shrewd plays in the offensive zone.

That’s a trend that becomes even more perilous when a top-ranked opponent comes to town or everything is on the line in a playoff scenario. Still, Quinn was pleased with how his team responded in adversity and grabbed ahold of the proceedings when the odds were stacked against them.

You might get down 1-0,” Quinn said. “But how are you going to respond? You might get down 2-0 and unfortunately that’s happened a lot to us — how are you going to respond? And I like the fact that we do respond that after they did make it 2-2, we made it 3-2 relatively quickly. That’s a good sign for us.”

Pluses and Minuses: Terriers overcome slow start, poor defense to earn comeback win over Harvard

The Boston University men’s hockey team pulled off quite the unbelievable win on Thursday against Harvard University, scoring three goals within a span of 2:09 in the last four minutes of regulation to win 6-5.

Now that we’ve actually read over the box score and have caught up on that whirlwind of an ending, we’ve also taken some time to reflect on exactly what we liked — and didn’t like — from that game:

Pluses

Thrilling comeback
Well, these guys certainly like to keep it interesting, to say the least — and they certainly understand that the game isn’t over until it’s over. This win marked the Terriers’ eighth come-from-behind win or tie this year, and fifth win in that situation.

“At 5-3 it’s still a hockey game, you know what I mean?” said BU head coach David Quinn. “Anything can happen, there’s still plenty of time and then you got the goal and then boom. Like I said, I thought we were playing better as the game went on, we just kept playing better and better and we started competing and winning some battles and playing smarter hockey and not trying to make heroic plays.

“We had some really good players make some really good plays to score some goals, and the next thing you know it’s 6-5.”

Starting off the year strong — and moving up the rankings
With the win over an extremely competitive opponent, BU jumped to No. 9 in the Pairwise rankings, and set a positive tone for the team as the second half of the season gets underway.

“Yeah it’s huge, it was a tough schedule to come on after a month off to play … obviously a really good team, such a big win,” said BU senior assistant captain Danny O’Regan. “That would have been a tough one to drop because you know there are games like that that matter most at the end so that was huge for us.”

Happy and healthy
One of the most significant things tonight was that BU returned essentially its entire full, healthy lineup. Sophomore forward Nikolas Olsson, who missed the previous three games after re-aggravating an upper-body injury, joined the lineup again. Senior captain Matt Grzelcyk also returned after missing the past six games with a knee injury.

But perhaps the most triumphant appearance tonight was from senior forward Ahti Oksanen, who suffered an upper-body injury after crashing into the boards against Quinnipiac University on Dec. 12. The damage looked really, really bad at the time, and there were various conflicting reports about the severity of Oksanen’s injury. We were told initially that the team was hopeful for his return after winter break, and it looks like the team got its wish.

Not only did Oksanen return for Thursday’s game, he also came back with a strong showing in the game, including tallying a game-winning goal.

The three guys above were described as “game-time decisions” by Quinn prior to Thursday’s game, but considering how pivotal those players are to BU’s success, it’s an extremely, extremely good thing for BU to see those guys back and performing well.

Senior power
All of BU’s goals tonight were provided by the senior class. You can read more about the seniors and their leadership in the sider written by our pal Nick, who filled in for Andrew tonight.

Minuses

Sluggish start
I was going to look up how many times we’ve written about sluggish starts, but it would’ve been quite a difficult task to find them all. It goes hand in hand with the amazing comeback — for every comeback, there must be a pretty rough patch in the game.

But BU’s start was rougher than rough. I’d venture to say it was probably the Terriers’ worst start of the season. They were pretty darn lucky they weren’t down by several goals after being outshot 18-2 in the first period.

“Watching what was going on in the first period, I knew it was going to be bad, I just didn’t know it was going to be that bad,” Quinn said.

They weren’t much better in the second period, but they were only outshot 11-8 in that frame.
This is how Quinn described the course of the first two periods:

“When the game started out, we were terrible. As the period went on, we went from terrible to awful, and then we closed the first period out being less awful. When the second period started we were bad, and then we got to not-so-bad and then to okay and then to pretty good.”

Sounds about right. You could probably point to rust or the lack of practice, but that first period was about as bad as we’ve seen BU play all year.

Which brings us to our next point….

Jet lag, or just bad defense?
One of the most significant topics of conversation entering Thursday’s game was the return of several players from the World Juniors Championships. Quinn said that all four Terriers participating in the tournament “got off planes in the last 24 hours,” and O’Regan said that freshman forward Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson didn’t land until earlier on Thursday.

That’s not accounting for three of BU’s defensemen — sophomores Brandon Hickey and Brandon Fortunato and freshman Charlie McAvoy — who all suited up for the Terriers against Harvard.

Quinn said that he didn’t consider benching any of the WJC players, dismissing that particular question in a postgame media scrum with a simple “nope.”

He went on to insist that any issues with the defense weren’t attributed to jet lag or fatigue, however, despite half of the active D having come off a plane in the past 24 hours.

“We turned the puck over an awful lot, and we were slow-thinking,” Quinn said. “We weren’t playing very fast, and that causes a lot of problems. Some of it’s fatigue I’m sure, but it’s also been a problem when guys haven’t come off planes. We’ve got to do a better job of managing the puck, our defensive core has to do a better job managing the puck.”

Pluses and Minuses: No. 12 Terriers turn ‘true team effort’ into win over undefeated No. 2 Quinnipiac

MHGoalie_2_MaddieMalhotra
Senior goaltender Sean Maguire. PHOTO BY MADDIE MALHOTRA/DFP FILE PHOTO

HAMDEN, Connecticut — It’ll be three-and-a-half weeks until No. 12 Boston University takes the ice again for a game, but the men’s hockey team made sure to put a bow on the top of an inconsistent first half on Saturday night.

When the Terriers (9-6-3, 4-3-2 Hockey East) came into High Point Solutions Arena at No. 2 Quinnipiac University’s campus this weekend, they were facing a team that had yet to lose a game and sat at the very top of the Pairwise rankings because of that.

BU conceded a hard-fought contest to No. 15 Yale University the night before, and the Bobcats (15-1-2) had been riding a three-game shutout streak on the back of netminder Michael Garteig, one of the best goaltenders in the country. And though the Terriers allowed the first goal of the game, they were able to battle back and give QU its first loss of the season in their final competition of the 2015 calendar year.

“It’s a true team effort,” said head coach David Quinn of the 4-1 victory. “Every guy in that room contributed in some way, shape or form. It’s a feel-good win for sure.

“It certainly says an awful lot about our team,” he added. “About our character, our resiliency, our work ethic. And those qualities can take you a long way through the course of a hockey season. A great way to end the break. Is our record what we want it to be? No, it’s not, but our makeup is. And that’s more important than anything.”

Before we put a cap on 2015 ourselves, here’s what looked good and bad in BU’s win over the Bobcats.

Pluses

Sean Maguire

Each time he steps on the ice, senior goaltender Sean Maguire said he gets better. Whether it’s his skating, puck handling or anything else, the 22-year-old said he feels stronger and hopes to get more opportunities to show that. On Saturday, he made a pretty convincing case for himself to get those chances.

Facing 37 shots from one of the country’s most potent offenses, Maguire surrendered just one goal to the Bobcats. Roughly 6:22 into the first period, winger Sam Anas had time and space in the slot and made the most of it. He cruised through and backhanded the puck over a diving Maguire on QU’s fourth shot of the game. After that, though, it was lights out from the goalie.

“He’s been a great goalie at this level,” Quinn said after the win. “He keeps getting better and better, and he missed a full year. I think it would be unreasonable to expect for him to come back and pick up where he left off. But I loved his attitude, his work ethic. And I knew this day was going to happen. I was hoping it was happening tonight, and he played outstanding.”

Maguire went up against an old friend in Garteig and was excited to do so. The two were teammates on the Powell River Kings of the British Columbia Hockey League during the 2010-11 season, and it made the game all the more meaningful for him in Hamden.

Even so, he said the biggest thing for him is just getting into a flow of the game.

“I try not to think too much about who I’m playing, or who’s in net, or who they got in front,” Maguire said. “As soon as you get into the flow, first shot, it’s just a flow from there for me. I’m one of those guys.

“When I’m in net, I just don’t really think about it,” he added. “Just kind of watch the clock go down and wait for the next shot, like it’s just live in the moment really.”

Outside the locker room following the game, Maguire indicated he hadn’t thought much about what he’d just done and instead offered that he was “really tired,” noting that he and the rest of his team “left it all on the ice.” Playing a game like that, he said, takes a lot out of you.

In terms of the effects of the game, Maguire said that defeating Quinnipiac gives the team a boost in  mentality going into the break.

“I think that knowing that we can beat the best team in the country, we can be the best team in the country if we want to be,” he said.

BU won’t compete again until Jan. 7, 2016, so whoever gets the next start is still unknown. That makes it tougher to necessarily get on a roll in the way he typically does, but any time Maguire’s given a shot  to see time between the pipes, he said he tries to get that going.

He added that coming to the rink when you’re doing well is enjoyable, reflecting on a stretch of games he had his freshman year in which he posted five consecutive wins with a pair of shutouts in there as well.

“When you’re winning, it’s fun, and when you go to the rink it’s fun if you’re winning,” he said. “Probably the best part about that stretch of games was that it was really fun for me and I loved coming to the rink, and I’m getting to really start loving coming to the rink now too, so hopefully I can string a couple together here.”

Penalty kill

Quinnipiac is the owner of one of the best power-play percentages in the country, converting on 20 of their 75 opportunities with the man advantage prior to Saturday night’s game, a 26.7 percent success rate. It wasn’t hard to see why that was the case when it played BU.

The Bobcats were speedy with BU shorthanded and cycled the puck around cleanly and efficiently. However, they were unable to score in each of their five tries on the night, rifling off 15 shots that Maguire turned aside and plenty more attempts that the Terriers got in the way of or kept from the net.

Senior assistant captain Matt Lane said the strategy coming into each kill was to be aggressive.

“The beginning part of the season I think we were a little too laid back, a little too lackadaisical,” he said. “We knew we were going to have to kill penalties, and I just thought we were more aggressive and we got more clears. And when you clear the puck you, don’t let them set up, and the penalty kill seemed to be a lot shorter.”

In the past four games, the Terriers are 12-for-14 on the penalty kill, allowing power-play goals in their losses to Yale (6-4-2) on Friday and the University of Vermont on Dec. 4.

And even after BU let up Yale’s go-ahead marker at the time during the first 40 seconds of a five-minute major penalty on Friday, it was able to adjust and refuse the Bulldogs for the rest of it.

Maguire added that, as a whole, the Terriers were playing with more simplicity to their game, something Quinn has been stressing to his team.

“We played against a really good team who plays simple, so we had to beat them with working hard …” he said. “You could see we put a lot of pucks off the glass tonight, we cleared a lot of pucks over their defense’s heads.”

Third line

With goals from both junior forward Robbie Baillargeon, which would eventually be the game-winner, and freshman center Bobo Carpenter, the third line impressed on the ice against the Bobcats. For more on that line’s successful night, check out Sarah’s sider.

Minuses

Losing Ahti

After a handful of minutes had expired in the third, senior forward Ahti Oksanen was pursing a puck through the slot, poking it ahead with his stick while trying to gain control as a Bobcat defenseman stayed on him. Garteig and co. spurned the winger’s attempt, and Oksanen went careening into the boards before staying down on the ice without moving. When he finally did get up, and with the help of his teammates and head athletic trainer Larry Venis, he was holding his right arm gingerly as he glided off the ice and down the tunnel.

Oksanen didn’t return for the remainder of the game, and Quinn did not have an update on his injury afterward.

Late penalties

Up 3-1 on QU halfway through the third, the Terriers made things harder for themselves by taking a pair of penalties within four minutes of one another. Sophomore defenseman John MacLeod was first sent to the box 9:30 into the final frame and, after his team killed the minor, was escorted back to the box at 13:07 for tripping, just 1:37 after BU had been shorthanded.

Quinnipiac didn’t score on either chance due to the dominance of the Terriers’ PK, but the Bobcats buzzed around the net and put seven shots on goal in those four minutes.

“I thought we were playing well in the third,” Quinn said. “Get the goal to make it 3-1, and then take two penalties that just really gave them life.”