Terriers release 2017-18 home schedule

Terrier fans can already begin planning their visits to Agganis Arena as the Boston University men’s hockey team announced their home schedule for 2017-18 on Wednesday afternoon.

Luckily for the BU faithful, the team is scheduled to begin their season earlier than ever before. For the first time since their inception, the Terriers will begin their regular season before October. BU will kick off its season at home for the first time since 1992-93 as they play host to Union on September 30.

The home crowd will be treated to numerous high-profile tilts this coming season, beginning with the Terriers’ jam-packed October slate featuring a handful of formidable opponents. On October 13 and 14, Minnesota State, the No. 1 overall seed in the 2015 NCAA Tournament, will pay a visit to Agganis Arena for a two-game series. This set marks the first ever matchup between the Mavericks and Terriers.

Just two weeks later, the stakes will be ratcheted up even further, as defending national champion the University of Denver will serve as a measuring stick for the Terriers. The Pioneers raced through the NCAA Tournament after being handed the No. 1 overall seed this past spring, and look to be one of the favorites to reach the Frozen Four in 2018. In what is likely to be a contest pitting two teams ranked in the top ten of the NCAA polls, BU will seek its fourth consecutive home victory over Denver.

The Terriers should not have to wait long to host another highly-ranked opponent. After the month of November, in which BU hosts three Hockey East opponents in the span of eight days (Providence College, Northeastern University, and University of New Hampshire), the rink heats up in the month of Christmas with visits from both Boston College (Dec. 2) and University of Massachusetts Lowell (Dec. 9). The Terriers’ crosstown enemies finished 16th in the USCHO.com rankings at the conclusion of 2016-17 while the River Hawks ended the season two slots above the Terriers at No. 4.

After an exhibition against the U.S. Under-18 National Team to begin 2018, BU will jump right back into Hockey East competition on January 6 with a matchup against the University of Maine. This is followed by a second home tilt against the Friars, who finished 15th in the USCHO.com rankings last season, before Merrimack College returns to Agganis Arena on January 20. The Warriors stunned the Terriers in the last week of January last season, blowing out BU 3-1 on home ice before shocking Hockey East with a 4-1 victory on Commonwealth Ave. three nights later.

The Hockey East competition continues in February, as BU will host University of Massachusetts Amherst on February 9 before a two-game home set against the University of Vermont to close out the month. The Terriers earned a split in their two games in Burlington, Vt. last season.

Pluses and Minuses: Grzelcyk impresses in No. 1 BU’s comeback win over No. 9 Colgate

Looking to bounce back after seeing its five-game unbeaten streak snapped against No. 18 Harvard Tuesday night, the No. 1 Boston University men’s hockey team once again manufactured another third-period comeback en route to a 5-2 win over No. 9 Colgate University Saturday evening at Agganis Arena.

Here’s a look at what went right and wrong for the Terriers:

Pluses

Grzelcyk makes his mark

He may not have found the back of the net Saturday night against the Raiders, but junior captain Matt Grzelcyk perhaps had the biggest impact for the Terriers in their tilt with their ECAC foe.

The Charlestown native registered a career-high three assists while also finishing the night with a plus-3 rating. Throughout the game, Grzelcyk threw pucks on net, allowing his teammates to capitalize on multiple rebound opportunities, including Danny O’Regan’s quick wrister score at 18:33 to give BU some breathing room.

Paired alongside freshman Brien Diffley on the first D-pair, Grzelcyk also helped quell a Colgate offense that mustered just 17 shots over the final 40 minutes of play.

“Matt had a phenomenal game,” said BU coach David Quinn after the game. “I thought that was his best game of the year. I thought he was immense. Three assists are a reflection of not just his skill level, but his grit and determination.”

Finishing strong … again

Another win, another third-period run by the Terriers. Nothing new to see here.

Facing a 2-1 deficit coming out of second intermission, BU tallied four unanswered goals in the final stanza to earn their ninth win of the year — just one fewer than the team had all of last season.

Freshman forward Jack Eichel got the scoring started just 16 seconds into the period with a wrister that sailed past Colgate netminder Charlie Finn to knot the game at 2-2.

BU would eventually put the game away with two goals from senior assistant captain Evan Rodrigues and junior forward Danny O’Regan, giving the Terriers some momentum going into its game Sunday evening against Dartmouth College.

“I wish I could tell you that we had some secret formula, that we made some masterful adjustments, but that certainly wasn’t the case,” Quinn said when asked about his team’s adjustments in Saturday’s game. “I just thought we got more determined, we got more physical. We were a little bit more abrasive, which we haven’t been.

“It seems like the more … ‘success’ we’ve had, we’ve gotten away from being combative and making people angry. I don’t mean by swearing at them or slashing them. I mean by playing hard, we’re aggravating people and we haven’t done that enough lately. I thought as the game went on, we did a better job of it, but we still have a long ways to go.”

Getting Physical

Throughout this season, Quinn has remarked that the Terriers have struggled with being too “cute” out on the ice and relying too much on talent and trailing away from a physical style of play.

BU went back to basics against the Raiders, and the results showed.

BU crashed the net on multiple instances Saturday night, cashing in on rebound chances generated from players such as Grzelcyk and freshman defenseman Brandon Hickey who recorded six shots on the night.

“I thought we did a much better job getting to the net, there were actually times where we saw that had guys at the net,” Quinn said. “We were wreaking havoc a little bit. The fourth goal, Danny O’Regan standing there. … Danny O’Regan had a great, great night. I know he only had one point, but he was solely responsible for the third and four goal just by standing at the net and taking a beating.

“We need to incorporate that a lot more into our game. I think as this year has gone on, we’ve been a little too cute, a little too fine and we’ve lost that grit factor in our game.”

Minuses

A troubling trend

Fitting alongside the third-period comeback that has served as a prevailing narrative throughout the 2014-15 campaign for the Terriers, BU once again labored over the first 20 minutes of play, compiling just six shots while constantly being battered into the boards by an aggressive Colgate forecheck.

Through 12 games this season, the Terriers have compiled only four first-period goals.

“If we had the answer to that, we’d change that. we don’t know,” Rodrigues said. “We’ve been trying some different things before the game. It’s just a theme that obviously you want to kick, but at the same time, we’re still winning games, so you don’t want to change too much. But obviously it’s something we need to fix by the time February, March and April come.”

Somerby Slumps

While he has made impressive strides from his freshman campaign, sophomore defenseman Doyle Somerby had a night to forget Saturday against Colgate — finishing the game as the only Terrier with a minus rating (minus-1).

The New York Islanders pick was burned on Colgate’s first notch on the scoreboard, as forward Tyson Sprink undressed the Terrier blueliner with a set of dangles before besting BU goaltender Matt O’Connor with a backhand shot at 4:20 in the first to give Colgate a 1-0 lead.

By the Numbers: BU versus United States U-18

In our second edition of By the Numbers, we take a look at the advanced metrics (Corsi and Fenwick) for the Boston University men’s hockey team’s 6-4 win against the U.S. National Under-18 team last Saturday. For those who are unsure on what exactly these numbers mean or what they stand for, you can refer to our previous post for the Terriers’ game against the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.

Team USA provided BU arguably its best competition this year, and the numbers and goals scored prove that. The following is a breakdown of the Corsi and Fenwick numbers from the game.

Corsi Full Game

  • Corsi For (Shots on goal, missed shots and blocked shots): 59
  • Corsi Against: 44
  • Corsi For Percentage: 57.3
  • BU Goals For: 6
  • Goals Against: 4

Corsi First Period

  • Corsi For: 16
  • Corsi Against: 15
  • Corsi Percentage: 51.6
  • BU Goals For: 1
  • Goals Against: 1

Corsi Second Period

  • Corsi For: 20
  • Corsi Against: 18
  • Corsi Percentage: 52.6
  • BU Goals For: 3
  • Goals Against: 2

Corsi Third Period

  • Corsi For: 23
  • Corsi Against: 11
  • Corsi Percentage: 67.6
  • BU Goals For: 2
  • Goals Against: 1

Fenwick Full Game

  • Fenwick For: 45 (Shots on goal and missed shots)
  • Fenwick Against: 33
  • Fenwick Percentage: 57.7

Fenwick First Period

  • Fenwick For: 11
  • Fenwick Against: 13
  • Fenwick Percentage: 45.8

Fenwick Second Period

  • Fenwick For: 17
  • Fenwick Against: 12
  • Fenwick Percentage: 58.6

Fenwick Third Period

  • Fenwick For: 17
  • Fenwick: 12
  • Fenwick Percentage: 58.6

 

Takeaway

BU held an advantage in both Corsi and Fenwick in the final two periods, but not the first. Watching the game in person, this does not come as a surprise. The Terriers held the puck in the offensive zone and generated a lot of good scoring opportunities. Team USA had fewer chances, but did have a number of “Grade-A” shots on goal, especially on its power play.

Though BU scored just twice in the third period, that’s the chunk of time that really sticks out. Head coach David Quinn asked his team to make defensive adjustments heading into the third. Solid defensive zone play led to better transition to the offensive side, meaning more shots for the Terriers. Overall, BU held the advantage in shots and possession, which in the end translated to a victory.

By the Numbers: BU versus UMass Amherst

Along with our normal coverage of Boston University men’s hockey, this year at the Boston Hockey Blog, we look to provide more in-depth statistical analysis. Instead of just looking at traditional numbers, we want to delve into more advanced stats such as Corsi and Fenwick.

For those who don’t know what those numbers mean, here is a brief explanation. Corsi, which is named for former Buffalo Sabres goalie coach Jim Corsi, measures the shot differential of a team or player (we will look a team’s performance) while on the ice.

A team’s total number of shots on goal, missed shots and blocked shots is added together (Corsi For) and is subtracted from the other team’s chances on net (Corsi Against). The final Corsi number, or percentage, gives an indication of how well a team is possessing the puck and getting it toward the net.

The higher the Corsi percentage, the more likely the team has the puck, and vice versa. Instead of plus/minus, which depends a lot on the goaltending and other factors, the number of shots a team takes is more controllable. Fenwick is very similar to Corsi, except it removes blocked shots from the equation.

For last Friday’s game against the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, we’ve broken down BU’s Corsi and Fenwick numbers for the whole game and period-by-period.

Corsi Full Game

  • Corsi For: 71 (shots on goal, missed shots, blocked shots)
  • Corsi Against: 63
  • Corsi For Percentage: 53 percent

Corsi First Period

  •  Corsi For: 29
  •  Corsi Against: 20
  •  Corsi For Percentage: 59.2 percent

Corsi Second Period

  • Corsi For: 22
  • Corsi Against: 16
  • Corsi For Percentage: 57.9 percent

Corsi Third Period

  • Corsi For: 20
  • Corsi Against: 27
  • Corsi For Percentage: 42.6 percent

Fenwick Full Game

  • Fenwick For: 49 (shots on goal and missed shots)
  • Fenwick Against: 48
  • Fenwick For Percentage: 50.5 percent

Fenwick First Period

  • Fenwick For: 24
  • Fenwick Against: 15
  • Fenwick For Percentage: 61.5 percent

Fenwick Second Period

  • Fenwick For: 11
  • Fenwick Against: 14
  • Fenwick For Percentage: 44 percent

Fenwick Third Period

  • Fenwick For: 14
  • Fenwick Against: 19
  • Fenwick For Percentage: 42.4 percent

Takeaway

BU tallied six goals in the third period, yet its Corsi and Fenwick numbers are much higher in the first period where the Terriers notched just one goal. In this case, a lot of BU’s first-shot opportunities in the third went into the net, so the offense could not generate multiple scoring chances on a single shift. In the first, the the Terriers had many shots, but goalie Steve Mastalerz kept UMass in the game. But by the end of the game, though, BU owned an advantage in Corsi and Fenwick and on the scoreboard.