BU with reason to be optimistic entering Hockey East championship weekend

Written by Liam O’Brien and Brady Gardner

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Second period onslaught troubles Terriers in 4-2 defeat at #2 UMass

In a visit to a sold-out Mullins Center in Amherst, the Boston University men’s hockey team fell 4-2 to #2 University of Massachusetts on Friday night.

“I thought we competed hard,” said BU head coach Albie O’Connell. “That’s a good hockey team over there.”

After a 7-5 thriller that went UMass’ way in the two Hockey East sides’ first matchup on Friday, February 1, the Terriers (10-13-3, 8-7-2 Hockey East) were looking to avenge their loss a week later.

“We played them pretty tight in our building,” said O’Connell on the teams’ first meeting.

Senior captain Bobo Carpenter was unavailable for the forward’s fourth consecutive game due to injury, but his co-captain Dante Fabbro wasted no time in picking up the production for the Terriers’ injured leading goal scorer.

On the game’s first power play seven minutes in, sophomore forward Ty Amonte moved along an initial pass from freshman forward Joel Farabee. The puck came to Fabbro, who pounded it in for the junior defenseman’s sixth of the season, providing BU with the opening goal for the first time in eight games.

With BU holding the 1-0 lead after 20 minutes, the Minutemen (20-5, 12-3 Hockey East) were struggling to gain traction and challenge the Terrier defense as they had a week prior. Looking to spark his team just ahead of the period’s halfway point, UMass head coach Greg Carvel called a timeout, which proved to make all the difference for his Minutemen.

Only a mere ten seconds after the UMass timeout, the Minutemen found their equalizer. Fresh off a three-point performance against BU last Friday, sophomore forward John Leonard stickhandled his way to shooting position between the dots, and fired one in to level the game. The assist would go to freshman defenseman Marc Del Gaizo.

“They got a lot of momentum,” said Coach O’Connell about Leonard’s tally. “The crowd was really into it.”

Turning the tides quickly, the Minutemen would come up with a second goal less than two minutes after their first. Starting behind his own net, standout sophomore defenseman Cale Makar bolted the length of the ice, and fed junior forward Jack Suter for the easy finish to put UMass up 2-1.

“[Makar] blew by our entire team,” said O’Connell. “You [have to] tip your hat to that kid.”

The Minuteman lead would double at the 4:53 mark, as junior defenseman Jake McLaughlin knocked in a rebound to make the UMass advantagae 3-1. Terrier netminder Jake Oettinger made the initial save on the one-timer by Suter after senior forward Brett Boeing’s cross-ice pass, but there was nothing the junior keeper could to about McLaughlin’s close-range tap-in.

“They found a way to the net,” said Coach O’Connell, reflecting on the Minutemen’s offensive success.

Going into the second intermission, the Minutemen would hold a stunning 30-12 advantage in shots on goal. BU attempted an underwhelming four shots against UMass freshman goaltender Philip Lindberg in the second period – a total quadrupled by the Minutemen in the frame, who tested Oettinger with 16.

“That ended up costing us the game,” said O’Connell regarding the lopsided second period.

Despite two early third period power plays for the Terriers, it would be UMass who converted on their first man advantage of the game with eight minutes left in regulation. After Leonard and senior forward Jacob Pritchard hacked away in front, Marc Del Gaizo punched it in to tally his second point of the game and make the Minuteman lead three.

With less than a minute to play, sophomore Shane Bowers would score a brilliant individual goal on the penalty kill for BU. Showcasing elite speed and skill, the forward stormed into the UMass end and unleashed a laser past Lindberg to cut the lead to two. It was the tenth goal of Bowers’ season, becoming the third Terrier to reach the double-digit mark.

Bowers’ lone effort would be too little too late for the Terriers, and the game would conclude 4-2 in favor of the hosts. It would be the fourth consecutive loss for the Terriers, albeit with all four opponents ranked within college hockey’s top 20 teams – Arizona State, Northeastern, and UMass twice.

“I liked our effort overall,” said Coach O’Connell, remaining positive despite his team’s recent dip in form.

Historically, the series sweep by UMass would be the first time in team history that the Minutemen would come away with two wins over BU during the regular season.

“Our goal this year was to bring respect to this program,” said UMass’ Coach Carvel. “It’s a special group.”

With a short break before their next game, BU will turn their attention to Harvard ahead of their battle for third place in the Beanpot on Monday, aiming to snap their losing streak ahead of seven Hockey East contests to close out the regular season.

“I think if we compete well, we’ll be fine,” said O’Connell about his team going forward.

The Beanpot fixture with Harvard will be played at 4:30pm at the TD Garden on Monday, before BU set their sights on a weekend home-and-home series with the University of Connecticut next weekend.

Terriers head to the Zoo for second crack at UMass Amherst

It’s been a whirlwind of a week for the Boston University men’s hockey team.

Somehow, the Terriers biggest challenge is still ahead of the them.

Last Friday night, BU welcomed the No. 2 team in the country, UMass Amherst, to town in front of a packed crowd at Agganis Arena. The Terriers put up a valiant effort, but it was to no avail as the Minutemen dropped seven goals on BU’s head en route to a 5-7 defeat.

On Monday, BU came up short in a barnburner once again, this time under the bright lights of the 67th Beanpot at TD Garden. The Terriers traded goals with Northeastern before the Huskies staged a repeat of last year’s tournament finale and skated off the ice with a victory, this time in overtime by a score of 2-1.

BU has little time to dwell on this early ejection from the Beanpot, however. The going only gets tougher on Friday as they venture out to one of the most raucous atmospheres in college hockey, the Mullins Center in Amherst, for their second crack at the formidable Minutemen.

UMass remains at No. 2 in the USCHO.com Top 20 poll heading into this tilt, not having dropped a slot since last week. This team has been lethal all season, boasting five players with at least 20 points.

The Terriers learned about the firepower of this group in their most recent appearance at Agganis Arena. UMass is led in the scoring department by senior Jacob Pritchard, who made his presence felt 46 seconds into the game on Friday with his 13th goal of the season.

Despite his tally on Friday, Pritchard is not the top goal scorer on the squad. That title belongs to sophomore forward Mitchell Chaffee, who has a team-best 15 goals to go along with 14 assists. The Michigan native added to his dime total last week against the Terriers, helping out on freshman Ty Farmer’s go-ahead goal 8:49 into the third quarter which snapped a 4-4 tie.

Farmer has come on strong for UMass as of late. BU fans heard his name called two times too many on Friday as he scored an unassisted goal to increase the Minutemen lead to 6-4 late in the third period.

He has notched at least one point in five of his last six games and multiple points in two of those games. Although he is just seventh on the team in total points, Farmer has been getting the job done heading into the final few weeks of the season.

The Terriers have been fighting a bug in the first period. In order to upset UMass, they’re going to have to come with some firepower at the outset of the game, something they have been struggling with in the second semester.

BU has not scored first in a game since January 11 against New Hampshire, a span of seven games. They have done an adequate job of battling back from these slow beginnings, but UMass is a nearly impossible team to climb out of a hole against.

Game Notes: We don’t know how BU is going to start out the game, but we do know this: the atmosphere is going to be lit on Friday night. The Mullins Center has announced a sellout for what should be one of the most fun games the Terriers play in this season…This game will be broadcasted regionally on NESNplus…Follow along with live game coverage here!

Resilient Terriers come up just short against #2 UMass

In a game that featured three surmounted deficits for the hosts, the Boston University men’s hockey team fell to #2 University of Massachusetts 7-5 at BU’s Agganis Arena on Friday night.

“Both teams pushed hard, both teams competed well,” said BU head coach Albie O’Connell. “[UMass] got on the right side of it.”

The Minutemen (20-5, 12-3 Hockey East) took no time taking a lead in the opening frame as senior forward Jacob Pritchard snuck in at the back post and knocked home a feed from sophomore forward John Leonard just 49 seconds into the game. It was the sixth consecutive game in which the Terriers (10-11-3, 8-6-2 Hockey East) conceded the game’s first goal.

“I don’t have an answer for that,” said Coach O’Connell regarding his team’s consistent struggles from the opening puck drop. “Just keep fighting.”

As alluded to by their coach, the Terriers did fight back. Awoken by the early UMass tally, BU temporarily tied the game six minutes in as senior forward Ryan Cloonan unleashed a laser into the top right corner off the pass from graduate forward Max Willman. After being kept off the scoreboard throughout the first half of the season, it was Cloonan’s second goal in as many weeks.

“I liked the way we bounced back competitive-wise,” said O’Connell following another slow start for his Terriers. “We kept playing.”

The Minuteman lead would be restored just two minutes later, as freshman forward Bobby Trivigno tipped in a shot from sophomore defenseman Cale Makar. The assist was the 30th point of Makar’s season, and the lone point of the night for the talented Canadian who has taken Hockey East by storm.

[Makar] is about as good as anyone I’ve seen in this league in a long time,” commended BU’s O’Connell.

With four minutes left in the period, freshman defenseman Marc Del Gaizo launched a seeing-eye rocket from the blue line, soaring through a crowd in front and into the BU net. The assist went to senior forward Kurt Keats, and the teams retreated to the locker rooms for the first intermission with UMass leading 3-1.

“We kind of just took our foot off the gas at a few moments in the game,” said junior forward Patrick Curry in response to the Terriers giving up multiple goals in quick succession.

Just past the halfway point of the middle stanza, it was BU who tilted the ice on the Minutemen. During a 5-on-3 power play, a centering pass from sophomore forward Ty Amonte trickled through the UMass crease, and it was freshman forward Joel Farabee there to sweep it in and give BU their second goal of the game.

Farabee would be involved in BU’s third goal as well, flicking across a pinpoint pass to a wide-open Curry at the back post. The junior would make no mistake, tallying his eighth goal of the season and tying the game for the Terriers with less than five minutes to play in the period.

BU’s joy would be short-lived, however, as the UMass regained the lead just a minute later. In a flurry in front, the puck fell kindly to sophomore forward Philip Lagunov, who buried it from just a few feet out. John Leonard was credited with the assist for his second of the night, and UMass had the one-goal lead going into the second intermission.

Three and a half minutes into the third period, Patrick Curry added his second goal of the game to bring the Terriers even 4-4. A rebound fell to the junior, who slid it in with assists credited to sophomore defenseman Kasper Kotkansalo and Ty Amonte.

“The compete level was there all night,” said Curry after the game.

Once again though, the level scoreline would not stand for long, as freshman defenseman Ty Farmer benefitted from a convenient rebound at 8:49 off a shot from Bobby Trivigno to put the Minutemen up for good.

“We just weren’t sharp at times defensively,” said Coach O’Connell.

Farmer would fire in his second goal of the period on a breakaway inside of three minutes left to make the lead 6-4, but BU sophomore forward Logan Cockerill would reduce the advantage to one goal again less than a minute later. After Farabee came up empty on a one-on-one with the keeper, Cockerill came flying in for the rebound to get his fourth goal of the campaign.

With the goalie pulled in search of a seventh, BU would surrender a breakaway to Leonard, leaving sophomore defenseman David Farrance no choice but to take the attacker down from behind. A goal would be awarded to Leonard in place of a penalty shot on an empty net, giving the sophomore a 3-point game, and UMass a two-goal cushion.

There would be no last-second miracle for BU, and the game would finish 7-5 in favor of the Minutemen.

“It’s happened a few times this year,” recalled O’Connell. “We’ve made comebacks and we haven’t been able to get it done.”

Jake Oettinger had 27 saves in the defeat for BU, and his skaters would be the first to admit that the junior netminder was left alone at times against a potent UMass attack.

“We didn’t help Jake Oettinger out very much,” admitted Patrick Curry.

Senior co-captain Bobo Carpenter was absent Friday against UMass, and may be unavailable for the first round of the Beanpot on Monday has well.

“I think it’s like 50/50 right now,” shared Coach O’Connell.

Despite missing their leading goal scorer in Carpenter, the first-year head coach was impressed with his team’s offensive output against the Minutemen.

“Not having him and scoring five goals – if you gave me that before the game, I would have said I liked my chances.”

While a loss is never a result to be satisfied with, O’Connell was proud of his team’s effort against the second ranked team in college hockey.

“It was a tight game from start to finish,” said the BU coach.

The Terriers will now turn their attention to the Beanpot, which kicks off on Monday night at 8pm when BU will take on Northeastern in a rematch of last year’s championship game.

Photos by the Boston Hockey Blog’s Emily Hunter.

Terriers set to host #2 UMass on Friday in greatest test thus far

In a final tune-up before the Beanpot, the Boston University men’s hockey team will host the University of Massachusetts on Friday night in one of the Terriers’ greatest tests of the season thus far.

While history may favor BU (10-10-3, 8-5-2 Hockey East), who have not lost to the Minutemen (19-5, 11-3 Hockey East) since 2013, a victory over this UMass team is by no means a guarantee. The Minutemen have been consistently ranked among the top teams in college hockey all season, including multiple stints holding the number one spot in the Division 1 rankings.

This season, UMass has the 2nd highest scoring offense in D1 hockey, averaging 3.79 goals per game. Individually, senior forward Jacob Pritchard holds a team-best 31 points on 12 goals and 19 assists, while sophomore forward Mitchell Chaffee leads the team with 15 goals. Chaffee has also been recognized on a national level, currently tied for third among all Division 1 players with an average of .65 goals per game.

On the defensive end, the Minutemen have been nearly as dominant as they have been in attack. UMass has allowed the fifth fewest goals per game in the NCAA’s top division with only 1.96 goals conceded on average. Anchoring the defensive effort has been sophomore goaltender Matt Murray, who is fifth in college hockey in terms of save percentage, turning away 93 percent of all shots faced.

While the Minutemen boast the joint-best winning percentage in Division 1 at .792, the Hockey East leaders have stumbled as of late. UMass fell 1-2 in a visit to Northeastern on January 19, before splitting a series at the University of Maine between the 25th and 26th. The team’s current road swing could be responsible for the Minutemen’s drop in form, as all but one of their losses have come away from home ice.

Like UMass, BU will also be entering Friday’s contest coming off a loss, as the Terriers fell 3-0 to #17/15 Arizona State University on  January 26. After benefitting from some fortunate bounces to put up four goals in a 4-2 victory over the Sun Devils the night prior, the Terrier offense came up dry in the second game of the weekend series. It was the first time in nine games that the Terriers had been held goalless, a streak dating back to December 1st.

“The team that wants it more usually wins,” said BU Head Coach Albie O’Connell in the minutes after the loss to the Sun Devils. “Arizona State wanted the game more.”

The Terriers were without a few significant names last Saturday night, as junior netminder Jake Oettinger and senior forward Bobo Carpenter each got the night off during the loss. After appearing in every one of BU’s 22 contests prior, Oettinger was replaced by freshman Vinnie Purpura, who made 36 saves in his debut with the Terriers.

“Our goalie was our best player,” remarked Coach O’Connell after the game regarding Purpura, who joined the Terriers during the winter break.

As for the captain and leading goal scorer, Coach Albie O’Connell reported that Carpenter had been banged up going into Friday’s contest, in which he was still able to tally his 100th point as a Terrier – joining a list of only 82 BU hockey alum who have hit the century mark.

“I love Bobo,” commended Coach O’Connell following Carpenter’s milestone game. “Everything he gets, he deserves.”

While a rest was certainly deserved by these two star Terriers, all hands will be on deck for this week’s meeting with UMass. BU’s two-game home-and-home set against the Minutemen will be split between the first two Friday nights of February, separated by the first round of the Beanpot on Monday the 4th.

It will be a challenging stretch for the Terriers, but one that will be crucial to their season, simultaneously fighting to claim a Beanpot title and climb up the Hockey East standings.

The Terriers will take the ice against the Minutemen at 7:30pm on Friday, February 1. We will have minute-by-minute coverage of the game through our live blog, accessible through this website or our twitter account.

The Look Back: BU slides past UMass ahead of Beanpot Tournament

mihvsumass_February_03_2017_malhotra_9011-1600x1065A three-point night from freshman forward Clayton Keller was the difference on Friday, as the No. 3 Boston University men’s hockey team skated past the University of Massachusetts at home.

The final scoreline was 3-1 in favor of the Terriers, with the Arizona Coyotes first rounder snagging a goal and two assists. Dante Fabbro, a freshman defenseman, had himself a game, too, pitching in a goal and an assist.

Bobo Carpenter, who now has 10 goals on the year, potted the third tally midway through the third period. The sophomore winger was a continual threat all night long, tying Keller’s team-high seven shots on goal.

For a full account of the game’s events, check out Jonathan’s recap over on The Daily Free Press.

Perhaps most importantly of all, the win assured BU heads into the Beanpot Tournament on a high, having won 10 of its last 12 games. The annual Boston showdown will get underway Monday at 8 p.m. against No. 8 Boston College.

Yep, the squad BU already beat twice this year.

Highlights

Press Conferences

Preview: BU hosts UMass Amherst

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.

For a full version of the story, click here.