For a deeper rundown of how BU fared against UConn last weekend, check out our From The FreeP post from this morning.
The short version is the Terriers snagged a 2-1 win away from home, only to lose 4-0 at home the following night. There’s a lot to digest from what unfolded, so we tried to sift through some of the minutiae. Without further ado, check it out:
1.) We saw junior defenseman Brien Diffley get the start in Saturday’s loss, filling in for classmate John MacLeod, who apparently is dealing with a nagging injury. MacLeod had been playing well alongside senior captain Doyle Somerby as of late, totaling three assists and a +5 rating in nine games. We’re going to guess that MacLeod will sit out Tuesday’s game versus Harvard if he truly is injured. We’ll try to get more information on his status before the game.
2.) Well, we finally saw freshman goaltender Jake Oettinger have a rough outing at home. Oettinger let up four goals on Saturday after going over 204 minutes without a goal allowed at Agganis to start his career. It was a shame to see his streak come to an end, especially in that fashion, but we have no doubt Oettinger will bounce back on Tuesday or down the road.
3.) Going off of that, it was comforting to see junior netminder Connor LaCouvee play so well in Friday’s win at the XL Center. He made 28 saves on 29 shots, often making acrobatic plays to deny the Huskies. Coach Quinn and junior defenseman Brandon Hickey noted that LaCouvee was extremely focused in practice once he found out he would get the start. Having the capable LaCouvee behind Oettinger will likely prove to be huge as the season wears on.
The Small Five
1.) In Saturday’s defeat, BU’s top line of freshman Patrick Harper and sophomores Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson and Jordan Greenway attempted 16 of the Terriers’ 37 shots. That’s astounding and lopsided to say the least, but this factoid becomes even more concerning when it’s noted that BU’s six D-men attempted 11 shots. That means BU’s bottom three lines only got 10 shots on goals — that’s just not good enough.
2.) The defensive partnership between sophomore Charlie McAvoy and freshman Chad Krys is so smooth. Both are cool as can be on the puck, and their instincts on the blue line are spectacular. The charge before them now is if they can lock down opponents’ top forwards, much like they did with UConn’s Max Letunov and Tage Thompson.
3.) One of the hardest things to measure is how a team bounces back when adversity rolls around. Specifically, when BU was losing 2-0, then 3-0, then 4-0 against UConn, there just wasn’t that much life in the squad. That’s concerning, especially because Quinn’s teams have historically been fantastic in the third period.
4.) It’s team to seriously consider what toll widespread injuries are taking on BU. Clayton Keller, Ryan Cloonan and Nikolas Olsson are all out, and they’re top-nine forwards. We honestly don’t know when they’ll be back, and it seems as though Quinn isn’t 100 percent sure either. BU needs their grit, scoring touch and hockey sense back — badly.
5.) Tuesday’s game against Harvard is no slouch, and Terrier fans would be foolish to view it as a guaranteed two points. BU snagged a shock 6-5 win last season, but the Crimson defeated BC last weekend. It wasn’t even close, as Harvard won 5-2.
With all that established, let’s break down some greater nuances from this past weekend’s tilts:
1.) Top D Pairing Shines: I’ve written about it plenty before, but I’ll say it again: BU can dress six NHL draft picks along the blueline on any given night. That’s a mind-boggling amount of talent.
From that group, junior Brandon Hickey and freshman Dante Fabbro have emerged as head coach Quinn’s starting duo. Their showings against Sacred Heart and Quinnipiac make it easy to see why.
Hickey and Fabbro – a Calgary Flames and a Nashville Predators prospect, respectively – shut down each opponent’s top forwards. On Friday, it was Justin Danforth (96 career points) and Evan Jasper (68 career points) of the Pioneers kept under wraps, while on Saturday it was Tim Clifton (75 career points) and Landon Smith (72 career points) silenced.
Sure, the duo only earned a combined +1 rating across the two games, but they were remarkably efficient.
“They played really well. I thought McAvoy, Somerby, Krys, MacLeod, I thought they all did a great job.” – Quinn
2.) JFK does the little things: It’s not too often in collegiate athletics that a sophomore gets named a captain, even if it’s as an assistant. From the first five games of 2016-17, it’s easy to see why Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson earned that honor for the Terriers.
His seven points (two goals, five assists) is second best on the team, but his true importance lies beyond the numbers. It was a common sight against Sacred Heart and Quinnipiac to see Forsbacka Karlsson killing penalties, quarterbacking the power play and making a high hockey-IQ play.
Those elements explain why the Boston Bruins drafted the center in the 2015 NHL Draft’s second round – it’s as simple as that.
“He’s great. He does really well starting in the defensive zone, you can always rely on him to be in the middle of the ice for support. Even going into the offensive zone, he gave me a great pass tonight. All I had to do really was put it on net, so he’s made me look good. I definitely like playing with him.” – Greenway
3.) Keller proves he’s no one-trick pony: Clayton Keller is an offensive powerhouse who set a U.S. NTDP scoring record with 189 points (71 goals and 118 assists). That figuring is startling, and the Terriers will need the 18-year-old center to contribute offensively to achieve the success they dream of in 2016-17.
But Keller illustrated against Quinnipiac that he doesn’t need to score to make a tangible impact, and Quinn noticed this in his post-game remarks. The Arizona Coyotes draft pick was immense in killing some of the Bobcats’ 12 power plays. He also won 15 of his 26 draws.
“I know he didn’t get a point [against Quinnipiac], but I thought Keller was outstanding. He was all over the place. He’s such a gritty player for a kid with that type of vision and skill. Those guys don’t fall out of trees, and he’s a heck of a player. He’s a dominant player even when he doesn’t score. I know he wants to score and we want to him to score, too, and that will take care of itself.” – Quinn
BU vs. Sacred Heart:
BU vs. Quinnipiac:
Tweets of the weekend
Everyone actually bought tickets to see first round ref draft pick Kevin Shea. Silly me for wanting to see 5 on 5 hockey
It wasn’t the best start for the Terriers last night, as they were unable to overcome a 4-1 deficit and lost 4-3 to Denver. BU will get it’s chance for revenge when they play the Pioneers again tonight at 9:00 pm.
For now, you can read up on the game recap here. We weren’t able to make it to Denver and don’t have the postgame video, but GoTerriers.com has been posting Quinn’s interviews the morning after the game, so feel free to check there for the videos.
The 6-foot-1 blueliner last played for Saint Andrews College in Aurora, Ontario. O’Connell totaled 31 points on four goals and 27 assists in 55 games during their 2015-16 CAHS season, earning a plus/minus rating of 14.
Before that, the left-handed shot was a member of the Ottawa Jr. 67s AAA hockey club for three seasons. He tallied 56 points in 74 games, and helped the team to an OEMBHL championship in 2013 and an OEBHL title in 2014.
O’Connell appears to be the first defenseman recruited for the 2018-19 season. He joins center Jake Wise and forwards Jack DeBoer and Tyler Weiss as 2018 commits to BU. O’Connell is NHL draft eligible as early as 2017.