Three Thoughts: BU’s split with Vermont

Charlie McAvoy has a team-best 11 assists, but was held off the scoreboard this past weekend against Vermont. PHOTO BY MADDIE MALHOTRA/DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF
Charlie McAvoy has a team-best 11 assists, but was held off the scoreboard this past weekend against Vermont. PHOTO BY MADDIE MALHOTRA/DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF

The No. 5 Boston University men’s hockey team traveled to Gutterson Fieldhouse for a pair of games against No. 12 Vermont last weekend, falling 4-2 in Friday’s tilt before cruising to a 4-0 win on Saturday. A lot happened in the last series of 2016. Let’s take a look at the positives and negatives from the Terriers versus the Catamounts.

1.) Keller’s return – Man, it’s good to have Clayton Keller back. After missing seven games, the star freshman forward returned to the ice Friday night, slotting back into his center spot on the second line. He didn’t miss a beat, as he won 12-of-14 faceoffs and notched a helper on Pat Harper’s goal in the second period. It was more of the same on Saturday, as Keller went bar down for his sixth goal of the season on the power play in the third period. The Terriers may have gone 4-2-1 in Keller’s absence, but it’s obvious that BU is a much more dangerous team with Keller patrolling the ice. – Nick

2.) Power Play – BU came into this weekend having gone 1-for-24 on power plays in conference play. They really flipped the script on that one, going an impressive 3-for-8 on PP opportunities against Vermont. Bobo Carpenter and Pat Harper scored two on Friday, with Keller’s coming on Saturday. The Catamounts’ penalty kill was ranked 9th in the nation heading into Friday’s contest, so a very positive sign from a Terrier offense that has gone silent at times. – Nick

3.) Jake Oettinger – Sixteen games into the 2016-17 season, BU’s freshman netminder has recorded three shutouts and taken the starting job by storm. He posted 24 saves in Friday’s 4-2 loss, then bounced back on Saturday night and stopped 28 shots for his first goose egg on the road. Looking at the national picture, Oettinger is a top-five goaltender, at least according to USCHO’s statistics. Boasting .932 save percentage and 1.86 goals against average will do that for ya. Oh, and we’d be remiss not to point out that Oettinger soon heads to the U.S. Hockey World Junior Championship preliminary camp, so his stock should continue to rise.  – Jonathan

The Small Five

a.) Carpenter – I thought Bobo had a really strong weekend, especially on Saturday. On Friday, the sophomore kicked things off with a power play goal off a rebound, another case of him being around the puck at all times. On Saturday, Bobo was second on the team with four shots taken and was consistently chasing after the puck behind the Catamount net. He’s not going to get on the score sheet a whole lot this season, but he works his you know what off every night, and that was evident this weekend. – Nick

b.) Bellows sits – We mentioned in our Three Thoughts last week that we thought Bellows should sit a game, and that finally happened during Saturday’s win. He did have an assist on Friday, but he also was called for another penalty and finished the loss with a plus-minus of -2. It just hasn’t been the season we hoped the talented freshman would have, at least not yet. Hopefully he’ll turn it around in the second half of the season. – Nick

c.) Hockey East update – BU now sits tied for sixth in the Hockey East standings with 10 points in eight games. The University of New Hampshire, Notre Dame and Vemrmont are in front of the Terriers with 11 points each. Boston College may have a strong grip on the conference standings, but BU is right on the heels of the other frontrunners. Keep in mind, four of the five teams in front of the Terriers have played more games. – Nick

d.) Switzer and Diffley – Shane Switzer and Brien Diffley were pencilled into the lineup on Saturday night – Switzer alongside Brandon Hickey and Diffley with Somerby – and impressed. The moves were prompted by choice and necessity, as Dante Fabbro jetted off to Team Canada’s camp for World Juniors, while John MacLeod didn’t play. Nevertheless, these two blueliners seized their chance, contributing in notable ways to BU’s 4-0 shutout of the Catamounts. Furthermore, it was Switzer’s first appearance since Nov. 12’s 4-2 win over Michigan, while Diffley hadn’t skated since the 4-0 loss to UConn on Nov. 19. – Jonathan

e.) Team Defense –  For all the talk about how “stacked” BU’s offense is, it’s team defense is firmly entrenched in the country’s upper echelon. Its 2.06 goals against average is tied for the fourth fewest in Division 1 college hockey, while its 90.8 success rate on the penalty kill is third best nationally. One worrisome trend is the magic number number for opponents seems to be four – as in four goals allowed. BU has surrendered four strikes five times this fall semester, losing four times (t0 UConn, Michigan, Denver and Vermont) and drawing once (to Northeastern). – Jonathan

Pluses and Minuses: Carpenter, Maguire carry Terriers in playoff-opening victory

The University of Massachusetts Amherst gave the No. 9 Boston University men’s hockey team quite the challenge in the first game of the Hockey East Tournament, pushing BU into an overtime contest. Ultimately, though, the Terriers earned a 2-1 victory to take a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three series at Agganis Arena on Friday night.

There were a couple things we didn’t like, but a whole, whole, whole lot of things we really, really, really didn’t like. Here’s just a sampling:

Pluses

Bobo
My pretty immediate reaction after the game is that my only plus on the night was for freshman forward Bobo Carpenter. Judy has more about his two-goal night in her sidebar.

Maguire in OT
After immediately feeling like Carpenter was the only good thing about BU in Friday’s game, I decided that was an unfair sentiment toward senior goaltender Sean Maguire, who had some mindblowing saves in overtime — including one on a delayed penalty where he dove in front of a wide-open net and made a blocker save to keep the score knotted.

“I thought the game was over,” said BU coach David Quinn. “He makes a phenomenal save to allow us to regroup.”

Twenty-eight saves on 29 shots isn’t too shabby of a night, either. His save percentage on the year is now at .930 and his goals-against average sits at 2.09.

Minuses

Urgency
It’s hard to pinpoint exactly how lightly the Terriers were taking UMass entering this game, considering they’d beaten them by scores of 7-2 and 6-3 already this season.

You could point to the fact that it’s a playoff game, a fresh start, where UMass has nothing to lose. But BU showed next to no urgency through the first two periods — looking like, quite possibly, they have have underestimated just how hard the Minutemen would come out in this game.

Here’s what Quinn had to say:

“Well, they’re 18-to-22-year-olds, and you beat a team 7-2 and 6-3 and there’s 700 people in the building,” Quinn said. “I without question thought that human nature was a factor in the first two periods from our end of it.

“That being said, I thought they played very well. They played hard, they were physical, they blocked a ton of shots, so I don’t want to discredit the way UMass played.”

Here’s Carpenter’s take:

“I don’t think so, I just think it’s playoff hockey,” he said. “And everyone’s got a chip on their shoulder to get the championship. I think the rest of the games are going to be the same way, everyone’s going to give it their best so they don’t end their season early.”

And here’s senior forward Ahti Oksanen’s take:

“That’s what coach told us too, just that obviously we really destroyed them the first two games,” Oksanen said. “So it might’ve been that we started a little slow and thought that would be just an easy game for us, but obviously that wasn’t the truth.”

Couldn’t solve Renyard — or get a rebound
While Maguire had a good night, UMass goalie Nic Renyard’s was even better. He had a career-best 46 saves in the game, and BU couldn’t figure out how to get past him, save for some great play by Carpenter.

That being said, Renyard left plenty of rebounds up for grabs in the slot, however, and BU couldn’t seem to capitalize, as nobody was ever in the right position. Forty-eight shots on goal is an impressive number, but there were even more chances there that the Terriers couldn’t seem to grasp.

Power play
BU had three total shots on three power plays.

That really says it all, but Oksanen had more to say about what’s going wrong on the power play, which hasn’t been right for quite some time. They’ve gotten just one power-play goal in seven attempts over the past three games.

“That’s a good question, if we know what we’re doing wrong, we would change it right away,” Oksanen said. “But … I guess we’re a little much in so-called ‘power-play mode,’ just not playing normal hockey. We have our setup, and we just stand there, and not really do anything. We just need to play simple hockey and get the puck in.”

Basically — too much passing, not enough shooting.

Attendance
Quinn exaggerated a bit when he said that there were only 700 people in the building, but just 1,752 fans showed up to Agganis Arena on Friday night, which, according to BU Sports Information Director Brian Kelley, is the lowest total in building history for a men’s hockey game.

That can probably be partially attributed to the fact that spring break is underway for BU students. Regardless, though, even though it’s UMass and only a first-round matchup — yikes. This weekend’s the last time BU will play at home this year, so just a bit unfortunate.

Last home game with the three of us
Andrew’s headed off for spring vacation, so he’ll miss tomorrow’s game — thus making Friday night the last time all three of us will cover a game together at Agganis Arena. We’ll have our friend Nick Frazier helping us out tomorrow, but regardless, sad to see our last time together at a place with many, many good memories.

Pluses and Minuses: Terriers use late comeback to tie Cornell at Red Hot Hockey

PHOTO BY JUDY COHEN/DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF
PHOTO BY JUDY COHEN/DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF

NEW YORK — It doesn’t count as more than a tie in the standings, but David Quinn and his bunch might be feeling as if they were winners in this one.

Trailing by two goals after two periods, the No. 11 Boston University men’s hockey team rallied for three goals in the third period to finish with a 3-3 draw against No. 16 Cornell University at Red Hot Hockey.

The Terriers (7-4-3, 3-2-2 Hockey East) did win in a subsequent shootout after a scoreless overtime, and thus won the Kelley-Harkness Trophy for the second consecutive time. BU remains unbeaten in the biannual game with Cornell (6-1-2) at Madison Square Garden with a 3-0-2 record.

We’ll take a look at what went right and wrong for BU in this Manhattan edition of Pluses and Minuses.

Pluses

Greer and Greenway break out

Sophomore forward A.J. Greer hadn’t scored a goal in a game in seven months. Freshman winger Jordan Greenway was scoreless with BU before Saturday night.

Both came through for for the Terriers on the big stage.

Greer and Greenway scored their first goals of the season in a frantic three-goal third period, helping BU earn a point for the eighth time in nine games.

Judy has more of a breakdown of their success in her sidebar.

Olsson returns, third line looks strong

Exiting after the first period of a Nov. 14 game against No. 1 Providence College, sophomore forward Nikolas Olsson sat out the last four games with what the team called an upper-body injury.

He returned to the lineup Saturday and made an impact with the third line, especially in the third period.

Olsson skated along the right-wing boards and made a crisp pass to center ice that helped set up Bobo Carpenter‘s goal at 5:36 of the third. The goal started a swing of momentum in BU’s favor, as the Terriers scored three minutes later on Greer’s goal, one that was also set up by Olsson.

The third line, as a whole, totaled five points and nine shots on goal during Saturday night’s contest.

“I think it’s a collective effort,” Greer said of his line. “The defensemen moved the puck up quick, and the first couple of shifts, we thought we held our stick too tight so we were kind of nervous, but then as the game went on we started working down low and just doing our job and using the back of the net.

“We got bodies out front, and they rewarded us in the third period. Those goals were big.”

Moving in right direction

It’s been a long stretch of tough games in November for BU, which has now played a top-20 opponent in three consecutive weekends. The Terriers came away with five points in those five games, earning one win and three ties in the process.

Though he would’ve liked to see his team take more wins out of these recent games, Quinn said after Saturday’s tie that he is pleased with where the team is headed as it moves to the second half of the year.

“I like where we’re going,” Quinn said. “I like the direction we’re going. Obviously we still have to get better, we have to get off to better starts. Though like I said, statistically, we didn’t score a goal, but I thought we were playing well.”

Still undefeated 

They didn’t win this time, but the Terriers still haven’t lost a Red Hot Hockey game since its inception in 2007.

BU has earned eight of 10 possible points in the five games played against Cornell, and has now won the Kelley-Harkness Trophy both times since it was created in 2013.

Minuses 

Power Play

A 20 percent success rate on the power play is usually about average, and that holds true for the Terriers, who are sixth in Hockey East in that category.

Average, however, hasn’t been good enough, and Quinn acknowledged this postgame.

“Our power play was disappointing, weren’t able to capitalize in overtime,” Quinn said. “Statistically our power play looks okay, but we’ve really got to get better on the power play. I think we’re just a little bit too slow, too methodical, we’re stick handling too much, and there’s just too much thinking going on out there.”

BU went 0-for-4 with the extra man against Cornell, but did garner 14 shots on goal. But the problem wasn’t getting the puck to the net, it was about finishing, or lack thereof.

There were power-play opportunities for BU  in the second period after each Big Red goal, but neither were converted. The same went for the man advantages in the third period and overtime.

Slow Start

It wasn’t as if BU was completely outplayed in the first period, but the game just felt slow, and the Terriers never really got in a rhythm in the first 20 minutes.

BU did actually lead in shots at 10-9 after one, but there were few high-percentage opportunities. The same could be said for the initial minutes of the second, where Cornell broke through with two goals.

Tonight’s beginning could’ve had to do with nerves, as Quinn admitted even he was battling with “heart palpitations” on the bench.

“I thought early on, they were controlling the play for the first 10 minutes,” Quinn said, “and then I thought we started getting our legs under us a little bit and started playing much better, playing the way we need to play if we’re going to have success.”

Odds and Ends: Playing catch-up

Hey folks. Did you miss us? We certainly missed you!

The past week we’ve had issues with our entire website, which stemmed from our old host. Essentially, the only way to fix this was by switching to a new host. Given the volume of content on the dailyfreepress.com domain, transferring all of the information from the old host to the new one took much longer than we all anticipated.

You might notice that some of our design looks a little different than before — a bunch of our custom design coding got wiped, so we’re in the process of fixing that. But for the moment, getting content brought back to you was a much higher priority.

Naturally, given that we didn’t have a platform to show you all of our content, a whole bunch of BU hockey stuff happened in the past several days. So here’s a gigantic roundup of everything we weren’t able to share with you.

Our sincerest apologies for being out of touch. Hopefully, this transfer avoids any future issues and you guys won’t be left in the dark again. — Sarah

-Last Friday, BU formally announced its incoming seven-person freshman class. No surprises, but we now know what jersey numbers they’ll all wear:

  • #1: Max Prawdzik, G
  • #2: Shane Switzer, D
  • #7: Charlie McAvoy, D
  • #8: Ryan Cloonan, F
  • #14: Bobo Carpenter, F
  • #18: Jordan Greenway, F
  • #23: Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson, F

-According to the updated roster on GoTerriers, Ahti Oksanen will wear #17 this season. Dillon Lawrence will wear #28.

-Right before our site blackout, we reported that T.J. Ryan has decided to retire from hockey after multiple concussions. I got a chance to chat with him (and his father, Tom) about what went into that decision and what the future looks like for him. Here’s that story.

-Former Terrier Chris Dyment was formally named the new Director of Hockey Operations on Wednesday. The news was first reported by Jeff Cox of SB Nation on Monday. Here’s Judy’s brief for that.

-Cox also ranked all 12 Hockey East schools in terms of recruiting classes. He ranked BU #2.

Looking forward:
-It’s Hockey East Media Day on Monday! All three of us will be there and will have a full writeup of anything important that happens.

-They’ll unveil the preseason coaches’ poll on Monday, too. We all know that polls don’t have that much value (i.e., BU was picked to finish sixth in the conference last season, and we all know how that turned out) but it’s always fun to see what people say and argue about it.

-On that note of polls, the Hockey East Writers and Broadcasters Association poll is expected to be released on Sunday. We’ve already revealed our votes for that on Twitter (Sarah, Judy, Andrew) but we’ll have a post up on Sunday once the results are out.

3 BU-tied players selected on 2nd day of NHL Entry Draft

Much like the first night, the second day of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft proved to be a successful one for the Boston University men’s hockey program.

Following center Jack Eichel‘s selection at No. 2 overall to the Buffalo Sabres, three players with connections to BU were selected on day two of the draft.

The first of these draft picks was sophomore forward A.J. Greer at No. 39 to the Colorado Avalanche. Although Greer was ranked No. 69 by NHL Central Scouting and was projected to be drafted anywhere between late in the second to the fourth round, Colorado nabbed him early.


Greer battled inconsistencies early in his BU tenure, but picked up his play during BU’s postseason run. He had a chance to play on the second line and made contributions, including a goal during the national semifinal against the University of North Dakota.

The next of the selections was soon-to-be-freshman forward Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson at No. 45 by the Boston Bruins. Forsbacka-Karlsson, who was ranked No. 31 by Central Scouting and 52nd by TSN’s Bob McKenzie, joins captain Matt Grzelcyk as a Bruins prospect.

With the USHL’s Omaha Lancers this season, the 6-foot-1 Karlsson had 53 points in 50 games. The Sweden native is considered a two-way center that can skate well and win faceoffs.

Another 2015 commit, forward Jordan Greenway, rounded out the BU selections when he was taken No. 50 overall by the Minnesota Wild. Standing at 6-foot-4, Greenway is a highly touted power forward in this year’s recruiting class. He had 44 points while playing with U.S. National Under-18 team, which included a trip at Agganis Arena.

Although they were ranked by ISS Hockey, sophomore defenseman Brien Diffley and incoming freshman forward Bobo Carpenter were not taken in the draft.

In all, 23 current or future Hockey East players were selected this season, the most of any college hockey conference. BU and Boston College led the conference with four picks each.