After knocking off Merrimack College in consecutive nights last weekend, the Boston University men’s hockey team heads into the final weekend of January with fresh experiences on the horizon.
For the first time all season, the Terriers (11-11-2, 9-7-2 Hockey East) enter a weekend series having swept their previous opponent. Not only that, but this weekend’s foe is not just any ordinary Hockey East competition, as BU visits the Valley of the Sun to face Arizona State University.
The Terriers touched down in Arizona Wednesday evening, set to face off against the Sun Devils (7-14-5) twice this weekend. Friday night’s contest will be held at Gila River Arena, just across the street from the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale where the New England Patriots trumped the Seattle Seahawks 28-24 in Super Bowl XLIX.
On Saturday, the two teams will head 30 minutes southeast to Oceanside Ice Arena in Tempe for the series finale.
Facing Hockey East competition is nothing new for the Sun Devils. In fact, their last two weekends have been spent hosting teams from New England.
Being that the Pac-12 Conference does not have a men’s hockey division, Arizona State is an independent hockey program, allowing them to schedule series against teams from across the country.
In October, the Sun Devils split a two-game series with the University of Massachusetts Amherst. They met up with then-No. 11 Providence College last month at Pittsburgh’s Three Rivers Classic and were trumped 6-0.
Most recently, Arizona State hosted the University of Massachusetts Lowell and another New England troup, Quinnipiac University.
The matchup against the River Hawks (14-11, 9-7 Hockey East) yielded mixed results, similar to how the Terriers fared when they faced Lowell the second weekend of December.
The Sun Devils fell 4-0 in the first meeting before flipping the script and hammering the River Hawks by the same margin the subsequent evening.
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.
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.”
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.”
For the second time in three weeks, the No. 4 Boston University men’s hockey team approaches the weekend looking to break out of a two-game skid.
This go around, the opportunity comes via a home-and-home series against the University of New Hampshire, with Friday night’s game at Agganis and Saturday evening’s at the Whittemore Center.
“Our next goal is to win the regular season championship, and we still can do that,” said BU head coach David Quinn. “All our energy has been geared towards Friday night and putting forth our best effort.”
While the Beanpot Tournament is laced with history, its 65th championship game concerns a bird of a different feather: Two elite teams.
Just ask Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson, an assistant captain for the No. 3 Boston University men’s hockey team, about what it’ll be like to play against No. 4 Harvard University on Monday night at TD Garden.
“These are the kinds of games you come to BU to play,” the Swedish center said.
It’ll be head coach David Quinn’s Terriers (19-8-2, 11-4-2 Hockey East) taking on head coach Ted Donato’s Crimson (17-5-2), and they’re both likely to play for silverware come springtime.
In the here and now, though, is where the young guns from Commonwealth Avenue and the old guard from Cambridge are thriving.
For a full version of this story over on The Daily Free Press, click here.
A stern test awaits the No. 3 Boston University men’s hockey team, as it’ll visit No. 9 University of Massachusetts Lowell on Friday night.
Rumor is the Tsongas Center has been sold out for weeks, and rightly so with two of the NCAA’s elite teams duking it out. For context, they met back on Jan. 28, with BU earning a 4-2 win over the River Hawks.
Ahead of this game, Jonathan wrote his usual preview, so be sure to check that out over on The Daily Free Press.
As tough as Lowell will be, it’s hard not to look ahead to Monday night’s Beanpot title game vs. No. 4 Harvard University. Despite that, freshman goaltender Jake Oettinger stressed that the Terriers are staying in the moment.
“We have a chance to win a championship on Monday, but we also have a chance to move towards another championship Friday night. It’s trying to focus on one game at a time, because the biggest game ahead of us is Lowell. Just focus on that and … play a full 60. It’s going to be a really good test for us.” – Oettinger
For more from Oettinger and head coach David Quinn, click the link above.
The Beanpot Tournament’s opening round is just four days away, but the No. 3 Boston University men’s hockey team has business to take care of first.
On Friday night at Agganis Arena, the Terriers will play host to the University of Massachusetts Amherst. In many ways, the clash will mark the coming together of two sides heading in opposite directions.
BU sits third in the PairWise Rankings, in second place in Hockey East and is 9-2 in its last 11 contests. UMass, meanwhile, is a lowly 56th in the PairWise Rankings, dead last in Hockey East and in the midst of an eight-game losing streak.
“I’m hoping our guys don’t put any stock into any of that, because it means nothing [Friday] night,” said BU head coach David Quinn.
When the No. 1 Boston University men’s hockey team takes to the ice at Agganis Arena this weekend, it will be in a somewhat foreign spot: looking to recover from a loss.
In fact, when Merrimack College snapped the Terriers’ eight-game win streak on Tuesday, 46 days had passed since the scarlet and white left the rink with anything less than a full two points.
“I think it’s an eye-opener,” said sophomore forward Bobo Carpenter. “[The loss] didn’t need to happen, but now that it happened, I think everyone is that much more focused. You never want to lose. I think everyone is just ready to get going again and get another streak going.”
Unfamiliar feelings aside, BU (16-6-2, 9-3-2 Hockey East) made it crystal clear that Friday night’s rematch with Merrimack (9-13-3, 3-7-3 Hockey East) and Saturday evening’s clash with No. 7 University of Massachusetts Lowell are about getting back to business.
Fresh off its eighth consecutive win, the Boston University men’s hockey team will travel to Merrimack College on Tuesday night for a rare midweek clash.
Ahead of the game, however, a larger bit of news surfaced surrounding the program: the Terriers are college hockey’s newest No. 1 team.
BU (16-5-2, 9-2-2 Hockey East) last earned this distinction on Dec. 15, 2014, but head coach David Quinn scoffed at the recognition, especially with another two conference points at stake against the Warriors (8-13-3, 2-7-3 Hockey East).
“I pay zero attention to it,” Quinn added. “The only thing that matters is the PairWise [Rankings.]”
Doyle Somerby, BU’s captain and a senior defenseman, said the ranking is exciting, but also struck a similar chord with Quinn.
“We’re just chugging ahead,” Somerby said. “We were No. 1 a couple different times throughout my sophomore year, that national championship run, and we always seemed to slip up. A lot of the older guys here are saying, ‘Don’t even worry about it. Look ahead.’”
It seems like yesterday that the Boston University men’s hockey team’s 2016-17 season just got underway, but here we are. On Tuesday night, the sixth-ranked Terriers will host Yale University for a non-conference clash to close out 2016.
Coach Quinn’s side will be slightly less than full strength, as senior forward Tommy Kelley is still out injured and junior defenseman John MacLeod is questionable. Meanwhile, freshman defenseman Dante Fabbro is off at Team Canada’s World Junior Championship preliminary camp.